Business history panel at the German Studies Association Annual Conference

You are invited to submit a proposal to the seminar “Made in Germany: Myths and Materiality of an Exporting Nation”, which takes place as part of the GSA annual conference 15-18 September in Houston, TX. Details of the seminar follow below:

Made in Germany: Myths and Materiality of an Exporting Nation

GSA Seminar Proposal (Houston, Sept. 16-18, 2022)

a-b. Conveners

William Glenn Gray, Associate Professor, Purdue University (

Katrin Schreiter, Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in German and History, King’s College London (

c. Seminar Description

This seminar invites participants to consider the centrality of export activity to society, culture, and politics in the German-speaking lands. Long before the “Made in Germany” label was affixed to the products of imperial Germany, international trade fairs were a central feature of German economic life; and the 19th and 20th centuries brought an even greater concentration on production for export. How did an orientation toward distant markets inflect business innovation, product design, foreign relations, and political priorities? How did concerns about market share shape currency alignments, labor practices, and the domestic economy? What histories can be told about the lives of German commercial agents abroad, and what narratives did Germans craft about their most iconic exports? And how did German products impact societies abroad? The conveners welcome contributions from design history, material culture, literary studies, business history, labor history, and international relations, as well as contemporary social sciences. Perspectives featuring Austria or Switzerland as exporting nations are also welcome.

d. Format Description

Participants will prepare brief research-based contributions (approximately 10 double-spaced pages) in response to the seminar’s guiding themes and a set of assigned readings. Each morning the seminar will discuss a selection of these contributions in a roundtable format.

e. Goals & Procedures

The goal of the seminar is to develop a more focused vocabulary and research program for considering the significance of exports and trade in German history and culture. More generally, the conveners hope to reinvigorate the salience of economic themes at the annual conferences of the German Studies Association. The prospects for the publication of expanded seminar papers, whether as an edited volume or a journal special issue, will feature in the seminar’s closing discussion.

Applicants should submit a one-page (300-word) proposal by March 15, 2022. Applicants will be notified of their acceptance by April 15; the conveners will convey copies of the assigned readings. Completed 10-page seminar contributions should be submitted by August 15, 2022, one month in advance of the conference.

f. DEI Statement

With a focus on trade and export, oversea markets naturally come into view. The conveners specifically welcome proposals that employ (post)colonial perspectives to address Germany’s formal and informal imperialism as well as dependencies after decolonization across the last two centuries.

g. Audio/Visual

Given the difficulty of integrating a/v presentations into roundtable discussions, participants with visually oriented material are encouraged to attach all relevant images to their research contributions.

h. Auditors

Pending space, the conveners would welcome auditors, so long as they agree to read the pre-submitted seminar contributions and attend all three sessions.