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Posts Tagged ‘Eighteenth Century’

Depoliticization before Neoliberalism: Contesting the Limits of the Political in Modern Europe

All too often, depoliticization is reduced to a very recent phenomenon, an effect of ‘Neoliberalism’. In a workshop to be held in Nijmegen on April 1-2, 2022, organized by Adriejan van Veen (Nijmegen) and myself, we aim to place the concept in a wider historical perspective. On the basis of a broad spectrum of European cases from the late eighteenth century until today, depoliticization no longer appears as a monolithic and autonomous process, but rather as a complex bundle of practices and discourses contesting the boundaries of the political sphere.

For further information on the themes and questions we will be addressing, please refer to our call for papers here.

[Edit April 28, 2022: Oliver Weber wrote a detailed report on our workshop for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung titled “Entpolitisierung. Hinter unserem Deich sind wir keineswegs sicher”. It is available online here.]

Guests are more than welcome to attend, either off- or online (via zoom). Please contact the organizers for registration and further details.

Venue: Vergader- en Conferentiecentrum Soeterbeeck Elleboogstraat 2 5352 LP Deursen-Dennenburg

Workshop Program

Friday April 1

Introduction (9:30 – 9:55) Theo Jung and Adriejan van Veen

Keynote (9:55 – 10:40) Ido de Haan

Panel 1: Timeless Realms: Art and Religion beyond Politics (10:45 – 12:30)
● Tamar Kojman: Constructing an Apolitical Realm after the 1848/9 German Revolutions
● Jan-Markus Vömel: Unpolitical Islam? Stategies of De-Politicization Surrounding Islam in Turkey
● Klara Kemp-Welch: Antipolitics and Art in Late-Socialist East-Central Europe

Lunch (12:30 – 14:00)

Panel 2: Perspectives on Political Abstention (14:00 – 15:45)
● Oriol Luján: Articulating Political Unease in 19th Century Europe: Abstention and Blank Vote as Forms of (De)Politicization
● Adriejan van Veen: Passive Citizenship? Civil Society and Political Abstention in the Netherlands, 1780–1840
● Zoé Kergomard: Depoliticizing “Apathy”? Institutional Reactions to Non-Voting in France under De Gaulle (1958–1969)

Coffee (15:45 – 16:15)

Panel 3: Discourses of Competence and Functionalism (16:15 – 18:00)
● Ruben Ros: Technocratic Anti-Politics in Dutch Interwar Political Culture (1917–1939)
● Koen van Zon: Depoliticisation through Participation? Consultation and Consensus Formation in European Community Policy-Making, 1960s–1980s
● Wim de Jong: Politicizing the Police? The Problem of Depoliticization in the Public History of Democratic Municipal Policing in the Netherlands, 1945–2019


Saturday April 2

Panel 4: Protecting the System from Politics (9:00 – 10:45)
● Mart Rutjes: Depoliticizing the Will of the People: Limiting the Franchise for Political Opponents in the Netherlands 1780–1800
● Stefan Scholl: Doubly Politicized? Semantical Struggles around the Relation between Economics and Politics in the Weimar Republic and National Socialism
● Anna Catharina Hofmann: An Administered Society? Planning and (De-) Politicization in the Late Franco Dictatorship, 1964–1973

Coffee (10:45 – 11:05)

Panel 5: Ruling by Ideas and Dreaming of Rational Government (11:05 – 12:50)
● Matthijs Lok: Moderation and Depoliticization after the Revolution: the Case of the Idéologues
● Eva Visser: Planning the Technate. The Apolitical Politics of the 1930s’ Technocratic Movement
● Jussi Kurunmaki and Jani Marjanen: Ideology, Politicization and Depoliticization in Parliamentary Rhetoric

Lunch (12:50 – 14:00)

Final discussion (14:00 – 15:00)

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After a long gestation period, I’ve finally published my very first article in my native tongue, Dutch. Many thanks for Floris Meens for his thorough editing. After 15 years abroad, I needed some help getting my grammar back up to par.

My contribution

Een tweestrijd om de tijd? Cultuurkritiek en beschavingsapologie in dialoog

(A Conflict over the Times? Cultural Critique and the Apology of Civilization in Dialogue)

considers the interaction between the discourses of decadence and progress. Building on French debates of the late eighteenth century as a case study, I argue for a new, dialogical understanding of discursive change. Focusing on the question of how positions crystallize and develop in interaction with each other opens new perspectives on polemics as a dynamics of discursive development.

The essay is published in the volume Ten strijde tegen het verval. Cultuurkritiek in diachroon en internationaal perspectief, which is available from Amsterdam University Press.

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On October 5, between 2:15 and 4 pm, I am participating in a panel titled

Deutungskämpfe um die Gegenwart: Zeitgenossenschaft und Zeitdiagnostik um 1800 in der Kontroverse [Controversies over the Present: Debates about Contemporaneity and Temporal Diagnosis around 1800]

at the German Historikertag. The panel is structured as follows:

  • Sebastian Schütte / Susan Richter: Einleitung
  • Theo Jung (Freiburg): Augenblick und Durchblick: Zeitgeistdiagnosen und ihre Kritik um 1800
  • Susan Richter (Kiel): Von der Seife und dem Besteck des Zeitgenossen. Formen und Analyseinstrumente der Zeitdiagnostik im Deutungskampf
  • Sebastian Schütte (Heidelberg): Von Nachtwandlern und Traumfängern im utopischen Dämmerschein. Geschichtsdeutung und Zeitkritik im (vor)revolutionären Paris
  • Uwe Justus Wenzel (Zürich): Auf der Höhe der Zeit und in ihren Niederungen. Einige Probleme philosophischer Zeitgenossenschaft
  • Helge Jordheim (Oslo): Kommentar

[EDIT: a review of the panel written by Kai Gräf has now been published on H-Soz-u-Kult and can be read here.]

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Next semester, I’m offering two courses at Freiburg University (one online, one in person).

The Age of Revolutions: Transatlantic Political Upheaval (1776-1848)

This in-person seminar considers current debates on the entanglements between the era’s political revolutions and asks if it makes sense to speak of a ‘Revolutionary Era’.

Laughing Matters: Spotlights on the Cultural History of Humor since the Early Modern Age

This online reading course presents an introduction to the history of humor. Focusing on the political significance of joking and laughing as a mode of interaction, it asks how historians can integrate this aspect of social life into broader narratives on the character of specific constellations and eras.

I’m looking forward to returning to the class room. As usual, I’ve started collecting online resources on these topics on the Pearltrees website. These collections can be found here:

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9780367427733An article I wrote on the efforts to reform the German language during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries has been published in a volume edited by Susan Richter, Thomas Maissen and Manuela Albertone. Languages of Reform in the Eighteenth Century: When Europe Lost Its Fear of Change, published by Routledge, is based on a series of conferences held in Paris (2014), at the Villa Vigoni (2015) and in Heidelberg (2016). It’s scope is defined thus by the editors:

Societies perceive “Reform” or “Reforms” as substantial changes and significant breaks which must be well-justified. The Enlightenment brought forth the idea that the future was uncertain and could be shaped by human beings. This gave the concept of reform a new character and new fields of application. Those who sought support for their plans and actions needed to reflect, develop new arguments, and offer new reasons to address an anonymous public. This book aims to compile these changes under the heuristic term of “languages of reform.” It analyzes the structures of communication regarding reforms in the 18th century through a wide variety of topics.

My own contribution, titled

Mending the Boat While Sailing:
Languages of Linguistic Reform in the German Territories, c. 1750–1815

traces the ways in which projects of language reform in the German territories were framed. It identifies two different ‘languages’ of linguistic reform dominating debates on the topic from the second half of the eighteenth century to the early decades of the nineteenth: a language of linguistic enlightenment and one of linguistic identity. Despite their common subject matter , their perspectives were fundamentally different. Thus, two competing approaches of speaking about language emerged, presenting contrasting vistas on the German language’s current state, the possibilities of its future reform, and their political and social implications.

My thanks go out to the editors as well as to the co-contributors for their efforts in getting together this wide-ranging volume.

The volume’s introduction, written by Pascal Firges, Johan Lange, Thomas Maissen, Sebastian Meurer, Susan Richter, Gregor Stiebert, Lina Weber, Urte Weeber, and Christine Zabel, can be read online here.

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I’m glad to announce that my article

Auftritt durch Austritt: Debattenboykotts als parlamentarische Praxis in Großbritannien und Frankreich (1797-1823)

[Performance by Means of Withdrawal: Debating Boycotts as a Parliamentary Practice in Britain and France (1797-1823)]

has been published in the 58th volume of the Archiv für Sozialgeschichte, a special issue under the title “Practising Democracy. Arenas, Processes and Ruptures of Political Participation in Western Europe during the 19th and 20th Centuries”. At a workshop held in Berlin in November 2017 (Call for Papers, Program), the preliminary drafts of the contributions were discussed and prepared for the publication now available from J. W. Dietz Verlag.

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My contribution asks under what circumstances the refusal to participate can itself become a mode of political practice.

Participation is often understood to be a fundamental value of democratic politics. But under some circumstances, the conditions of given opportunities to take part in political decision making processes are structured in ways that prohibit their de facto effectiveness. In such cases, political groups may choose to exit from established platforms and institutions in order to symbolically express their disapproval of the given situation.

Taking the example of oppositional groups’ parliamentary boycotts in the context of the changing systems of early parliamentarism, my contribution argues that the refusal to participate can itself be a forceful mode of democratic practice. Cases from the Irish, British and French parliaments shed light on the specific logic and political relevance of these boycotts in the historical context of the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

The volume’s introduction, written by Anja Kruke and Philipp Kufferath, may be found online here. The other contributinos are available in print.

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I received notice that my article

  • Le silence du peuple: The Rhetoric of Silence during the French Revolution, in: French History 31, Nr. 4 (2017), 440–469, DOI: 10.1093/fh/crx062.

published last year in the journal French History, has been awarded the French History Article Prize 2017 by the Society for the Study of French History.

I am very grateful to the editorial board panel that selected my contribution and hope that the fact that the article is being made available online free of charge (here) will help it find a larger readership.

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The latest issue of French History includes an article I wrote on the role of silence during the French Revolution, titled

Le silence du peuple: The Rhetoric of Silence during the French Revolution

French History, 31, Issue 4 (2017), p. 440–469.

https://doi.org/10.1093/fh/crx062

Abstract

In July 1789, a phrase was introduced into French political discourse that would quickly become a standing expression: le silence du peuple est la leçon des rois. Taking this political bon mot as a starting point, the article traces the uses of and responses to collective silences during the French Revolution. It is argued that silence cannot be reduced to just the lack of ‘voice’ indicating suppression or political impotence. Rather, it must be understood as a mode of political action with a rhetoric of its own. Sketching this rhetoric not only highlights the nature and functions of a mode of political communication too often disregarded. It also shows how the controversies surrounding these silences reflected some of the major political questions of the day, playing a key role in the renegotiations of the communicative spaces of politics set off by the Revolution.

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The journal Neue Politische Literatur just published my review of Franziska Rehlinghausstudy on the German concept of destiny from early modern times through to the First World War. It comes recommended as a detailed analysis of a concept that had crucial significance for intellectual, social and political processes during the period, but also as an exemplary use of the methods of Historical Semantics.

9783525367247

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thinking-about-the-enlightenment

The volume Thinking about the Enlightenment: Modernity and its Ramifications, edited by Martin L. Davies of Leicester University has now been published by Routledge.

My chapter,

Multiple Counter-Enlightenments: The Genealogy of a Polemics from the Eighteenth Century to the Present

the penultimate in a very diverse series of perspectives on the various dimensions of the relationship between Enlightenment and the present, takes up the issue of counter-enlightenment(s). It asks how various criticisms of ‘the’ Enlightenment gradually came to be viewed as constituting a singular tradition of thought, constitutive of Western reflection upon or own place in history.

[Edit: The text is now available online here.]

Volume Introduction

Thinking about the Enlightenment looks beyond the current parameters of studying the Enlightenment, to the issues that can be understood by reflecting on the period in a broader context. Each of the thirteen original chapters, by an international and interdisciplinary team of contributors, illustrates the problematic legacy of the Enlightenment and the continued ramifications of its thinking to consider whether modernity can see its roots in the intellectual revolution of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Drawing from history, philosophy, literature and anthropology, this book enables students and academics alike to take a fresh look at the Enlightenment and its legacy.

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