Cover of the book Chosen NationPlease help us out by filling out a survey on our podcasts.

Ben Goossen joins the podcast to talk about his book Chosen Nation. From Ben’s biography:

Ben Goossen is a global historian of religion and science. He is the author of Chosen Nation: Mennonites and Germany in a Global Era (Princeton University Press, 2017), which examines the relationship between Mennonites and German nationalism during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Ranging from Poland to Paraguay, Chosen Nation engages questions of warfare and pacifism, theology and political activism, gender, genocide, and anti-Semitism to explore new methods of narrating the processes of nationalization and global diaspora. Goossen’s current project, “The Year of the Earth (1957-1958): Cold War Science and the Making of Planetary Consciousness,” is an interpretive history of the International Geophysical Year. Drawing on research conducted on six continents, it illuminates the intersections of science and geopolitics—including Antarctic law, the rise of Big Data, plate tectonic theory, and the discovery of global warming—at the dawn of the space age.

Goossen has held fellowships from the Fulbright Commission and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), and he is a Beinecke Scholar. He has received awards for excellence in teaching and scholarship from the Kansas Historical Foundation, the Associated Church Press, the Canadian Church Press, Swarthmore College, and Harvard University. He edits the German Mennonite Sources Databaseand is a co-founder of Anabaptist HistoriansHis essays and reviews appear in publications ranging from Nova Religio and Waging Nonviolence to the Journal of the History of Ideas blog.

Topics in this podcast include:

  • Ben’s Mennonite background and his appreciation of history (0:54)
  • Overview of Chosen Nation (5:12)
  • Motivation for researching this topic, with the history of Mennonites and their relationship to nationalism (6:33)
  • How people reconcile Mennonite history with nationalism (8:55)
  • How speaking to Mennonites all over the world informed the book (11:50)
  • The double-meaning of the phrase “Chosen Nation” (13:59)
  • How Mennonite nationalist identities formed (16:47)
  • How early Germany reacted to Mennonites (20:41)
  • Implications for Mennonites of color today (23:45)
  • Mennonites during the rise of the Nazis and WW2 (27:31)
  • How a better understanding of Mennonite reactions during Nazi Germany can inform us today (32:35)
  • The audience of the book (44:32)
  • Hopes for takeaways from the book, or from this podcast (52:12)
  • Teaser for Ben’s next book about the international geophysical year (56:25)


Watch the interview from YouTube embedded below, or listen through the audio podcast feed (linked below to play directly or in various podcast directories).