Education and Intimacy-Geopolitics: The National Security League’s Committee on Patriotism Through Education, 1917-1919

Authors: Kolson Schlosser*, Temple University
Topics: Political Geography
Keywords: World War I, Propaganda, Critical Geopolitics
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Rampart, Sheraton, 5th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The National Security League was an elite private lobbying group in the World War I preparedness movement in the United States. Its educational wing was a group consisting mostly of college professors called the Committee on Patriotism through Education, which sought to use education to promote a militaristic brand of patriotism. This paper adds to our knowledge of the geopolitics of the period by critically reviewing the Committee's propaganda efforts, as organized into its Patriotism through Education Series. More importantly, this paper theorizes this propaganda by engaging with two literatures that seldom cross paths: emerging interest in intimacy-geopolitics and Gramsci's concept of war of position. Intimacy-geopolitics is used to highlight the performative edge of war propaganda, as it directs desire and affect to toward geopolitical visions which accord with elite visions of the good life. Intimacy-geopolitics as an analytical framework helps connect affect and war in a way that avoids scalar hierarchies of violence. The Committee deliberately sought to direct emotion toward militaristic ends, and saw teachers as foot soldiers in that effort. Understanding how war propaganda works through affect, that is, how it positions country as an object of affection, also qualifies and dovetails with an understanding of war propaganda as elemental to the Gramscian war of position.

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