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After a remarkably smooth editing process, Popular Agency and Politicisation in Nineteenth-Century Europe: Beyond the Vote, has now been published in the Palgrave Studies in Political History series. Edited by Diego Palacios Cerezales (Madrid) and Oriol Lujàn (Barcelona), the volume encompasses contributions on a wide variety of political practices and spaces, opening new perspectives on the politicisation processes that shaped nineteenth-century Europe.

Most chapters were first discussed in the Conference Beyond the Vote: New Perspectives on 19th Century Politicisation, held in Madrid/online in January 2021.

My own chapter, titled

Plebiscites on the Streets: The Politics of Public Acclamation in Early Nineteenth-Century Europe

addresses the dynamics of performative displays of enthusiasm and disdain in public confrontations between rulers and ruled.

While acclamations remain a familiar phenomenon today, they tend to be understood as an atmospheric, rather than a functional, element of political life. In consequence, the historical variability of their practice and impact remains understudied. Building on a survey of current research, this contribution addresses the forms, functions and situations of acclamation in Europe during the Age of Revolutions.

Focusing on the tensions between the practice’s symbolic holism – suggesting a direct expression of the communities’ undivided will – and its underlying complexities as a mode of collective action, it argues that acclamations gained a historically unique impact during the (post-)revolutionary period. While other opportunities for political articulation and participation remained sharply constrained, these public vocalizations presented one of the very few available modes of regular political engagement. At the same time, public interactions between rulers and ‘the people’ gained new performative significance against the background of experiences of political upheaval and regime change.

A consideration of a wide range of case studies from across the continent shows how practices of acclamation and their reception became part of a transnationally entangled contestation of political legitimacy, constituting an ephemeral, but momentous mode of popular politics.

Many thanks to the editors for their hard work in getting this excellent volume together.

I’m grateful to announce that my second book (Habilitation) Qui tacet: Die Politik des Schweigens im Europa des langen 19. Jahrhunderts (Qui tacet: The Politics of Silence in Nineteenth-Century Europe) – which I’m currently preparing for publication – has been awarded the 2022 Book Prize of the Wolf-Erich-Kellner Memorial Foundation. The prize is curated by the Friedrich-Naumann-Foundation for Freedom and honors publications that address the history and intellectual foundations of liberalism. The award ceremony will held on 10 November 2022 at the Foundation’s annual Liberalism Colloquium in Berlin.

The list of previous laureates includes many excellent historians, among them my long-term mentor Jörn Leonhard and my former colleague Fabian Rausch.

My sincere thanks go out to the jury.

More information about the Colloquium can be found here and a short summary of the award ceremony here.

On Friday, 21 October, I will be part of the workshop “Ruling the Assembly. Procedural Fairness, Popular Emotion, and the Access to Democracy, 19th-20th Century”, held in the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in Amsterdam.

The organizers, Anne Heyer (Leiden), Anne Patterson (Nijmegen), and Henk te Velde (Leiden), seek to explore how politicians and citizens in the 19th and 20th century tried to resolve the tension between reasonableness and accessibility of political debate, both in and outside Western European parliaments. Political practices are central to this analysis. What did political newcomers have to do in order to be listened to? What meaning did parliamentary rules have for citizens participating in public political discussions? And above all, how did they develop norms and practices for the conduct of democratic politics? To answer these questions, they develop a political-cultural approach in which the rules of political debate are not self-evident, but rather the subject of an ongoing political struggle about the democratisation of the political system.


Programme

9.30-10.00: Registration

10.00-10.30: Introduction: Two Traditions of Deliberation? Henk te Velde, Leiden University

10.30-11.15: Keynote | Public Politics and Public Spheres in the Making of Democracy, Jon Lawrence, University of Exeter

11.15-11.30: Coffee break

11.30-12.15: The Art of Making Oneself Heard: Political Audibility in and beyond Europe’s Second Chambers in the Late Nineteenth Century, Josephine Hoegaerts, University of Helsinki. Discussant: Maartje Janse, Leiden University

12.15-13.30: Lunch

13.30-14.15: In All Seriousness: Laughter in Bismarck’s Reichstag, Theo Jung, Freiburg University. Discussant: Ido de Haan, Utrecht University

14.15-15.00: Gatherings of Laughter: Public Meetings in the Early Stages of Democratization, Belgium, 1872-1893, Martin Schoups, Ghent University. Discussant: Adriejan van Veen, Radboud University

15:00-15.30: Coffee break

15.30-16.15:  Ruling the Rally in the Name of Democracy: Political Parties and ‘Popular’ Voices in West Germany’s Electoral Communication, 1940s to 1960s, Claudia Gatzka, Freiburg University. Discussant: Carla Hoetink, Radboud University

16.15-16.45: Learning from the Outside: Parliament’s Response to Popular Meetings in Germany and The Netherlands, 1870-1914, Anne Heyer, Leiden University & Anne Petterson, Radboud University

16.45-17.00: Conclusion

17.00-18.00: Drinks


Attendance is free. More information on registration can be found here.

In the coming months, the University of Passau organizes a series of 10-minute lunchtime lectures on silence. Most contributions come from law and sociology, but other disciplines are also represented.

My own contribution on 30 November addresses Niklas Luhmann’s theoretical exploration of silence from the perspective of systems theory and its implications for sociological (and historical) research.

All lectures (in German) can be attended on zoom as well as offline.

From November on, I’m honored to join the Cemetery of the March Fallen‘s newly constituted Board of Trustees. Located in Berlin Friedrichshain, the Cemetery is one of the major German sites of remembrance of both the 1848/49 and 1918/19 revolutions. Together with a wealth of other museums and memorials, it is part of the network Sites of Democratic History.

The Board advises the Cemetery on the overhaul of its permanent exhibition (a project that will be on the top of our agenda in the coming years) as well as on its many other activities (commemorations, lectures, workshops, concerts, guided tours, etc.).

For more information on the Cemetery’s events, click here.

The new issue of Zeitschrift für Historische Forschung contains a book review I wrote on “Diesseits der Geschichte: Für eine andere Historiographie” (Beyond History: For a Different Historiography), written by Achim Landwehr, the most important and prolific current German theorist of history. In my review, I consider the strenghts and challenges of some of the concepts Landwehr has introduced during the last decade-or-so, like “pluritemporality”, “temporal whirl” (Zeitwirbel), and especially “chronoference”. The book comes highly recommended to all interested in the history of temporality or in the temporal dimension of historiography in a general sense.

The review can be found here.

For an interdisciplinary volume on silence edited by Mahshid Mayar (Cologne) and Marion Schulte (Bielefeld), I wrote a chapter on the way Europeans have historically framed the question ‘talkative’ and ‘taciturn’ nations.

Even today, we often think of authoritarian and dictatorial regimes in terms of ‘silence’, while parliamentary and democratic politics are linked to the category of ‘voice’. Retracing the historical emergence of such conceptualizations during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, my chapter aims at a reconsideration of these familiar, but reductive binaries.

Exploring French, German, and British discourses on the question why some nations are more talkative than others brings to light a fundamental shift in the understanding of communication around the turn of the nineteenth century, when explanations in terms of national character were gradually superseded by a point of view linking taciturnity and talkativeness to specific political regimes.

This gradual reorientation from a spatio-cultural to a temporal framing coincided with a distinct politicization of the question of communication (and its absence) which still resonates today. Placing our current understanding of the significance of voice and silence into a wider historical perspective thus contributes to a reconsideration of the meanings of communication in the modern world.

  • Talkative and Taciturn Nations. Ethnographic and Political Perspectives in European Discourses on Communicative Cultures (c. 1750–1850), in: Mahshid Mayar und Marion Schulte (eds): Silence and its Derivatives. Conversations Across Disciplines. London 2022, 87–108.

The chapter can be dowloaded here. The whole volume is to be found here.

Many thanks to the editors for their meticulous organization of the publishing process.

On August 18, 6 pm, I’m presenting my research on the first German national parliament and its role in the revolution of 1848/49 at the Cemetry of the March Revolution in Berlin.

Please note that due to expected weather conditions the venue has changed. More information can be found here.

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I’m offering a PhD position in modern European history (3y, with a possible 1y extension) for any project on the ‘long’ 19th century at the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg.

Deadline: 22 October, 2022.

Details in German and English may be found here.

I’m very happy to announce that from July 1, 2022, I will be heading the Chair of Modern History (Professur für Neuere und Neueste Geschichte) at Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg. I had already been active in this position since April 1 in the capacity of a ‘substitute professor’, but I’m glad that everything is official now.

I’m immensely grateful to the MLU and to my new colleagues at the History Department for giving me the opportunity to further develop my research and teaching in this exciting new role.

A short introduction about me in the university magazine can be found here.