|dc.description.abstract||The Kulturkampf which erupted in the wake of Germany’s unification touched Catholics’ lives in multiple ways. Far more than just a power struggle between the Catholic Church and the new German state, the conflict became a true “struggle for culture” that reached into remote villages, affecting Catholic men, women, and children, regardless of their age, gender, or social standing, as the state arrested clerics and liberal, Protestant polemicists castigated Catholics as ignorant, anti-modern, effeminate minions of the clerical hierarchy. In response to this assault on their faith, most Catholics defended their Church and clerics; however, Catholic reactions to anti-clerical legislation were neither uniform nor clerically-controlled. Instead, Catholics’ Kulturkampf activism took many different forms, highlighting both individual Catholics’ personal agency in deciding if, when, and how to take part in the struggle as well as the diverse factors that motivated, shaped, and constrained their activism.
Catholics resisted anti-clerical legislation in ways that reflected their personal lived experience; attending to the distinctions between men’s and women’s activism or those between older and younger Catholics’ participation highlights individuals’ different social and communal roles and the diverse ways in which they experienced and negotiated the dramatic transformations the new nation underwent in its first decade of existence. Investigating the patterns and distinctions in Catholics’ Kulturkampf activism illustrates how Catholics understood the Church-State conflict, making clear what various groups within the Catholic community felt was at stake in the struggle, as well as how external factors such as the hegemonic contemporary discourses surrounding gender roles, class status, age and social roles, the division of public and private, and the feminization of religion influenced their activism. Through their efforts to defend the Church’s rights and honor clerics who refused to submit to the anti-clerical legislation, Catholics defended both a shared Catholic Weltanschauung as well as their own personal interests. Catholic Kulturkampf activism took multiple forms, reflecting the different ways that Catholics negotiated their personal encounters with the processes of modernity and nation-building.||