Posts Tagged ‘History’

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.

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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around the turn of the nineteenth century, when explanations in terms of national character were gradually superseded by a point of view linking taciturnity and talkativeness to specific political regimes.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.

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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 August, 2022.

Details in German and English may be found here.

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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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On December 8 and 9, I will attend the conference titled “Unrelating: Infrastructures, Imaginaries and Politics of Disconnection” organized by Timon Beyes, Urs Stäheli, Clara Wieghorst and Lea Zierott of the research project “Disconnectivity: Imaginaries, Media Technologies, Politics”.

Originally, the conference had been planned to take place in Hamburg, but due to current circumstances, it is now going to be held online. While this is sad for all of us who were looking forward to attending in person, it does make it a lot easier for anyone interested in the topic to join. If this includes you, please register at cdcforum@leuphana.de.

In my contribution, titled “Varieties of Negativity: Historical Perspectives on Passivity and Disengagement”, I will present a survey of current historiographical research on inaction, disconnection and related topics, hoping to enrich the theoretical discussion ongoing in other fields of scholarship.

Because of the change of venue, the program is not yet set in stone. The organizers are working on it. Roughly, we can expect the following:

December 8

  • Timon Beyes, Urs Stäheli, Clara Wieghorst, Lea Zierott: Welcome and Introduction
  • Theodora Sutton: Disconnect/Reconnect: Imaginaries and Politics of Digital Detoxing
  • Ana Jorge: Pilgrimage and Dis/Connection
  • Steffen Krämer: Unplugging Audiences: Non-Attention as a Third Mode Between Attention and Distractioon
  • Milan Stürmer: Disconnection by Decree: From Bronze Age Debt Cancellations to Digital Objects
  • Theo Jung: Varieties of Negativity: Historical Perspectives on Passivity and Disengagement
  • Alice Lagaay: DIS*CONNECTION: Responding With Paradox to the Paradoxes of a Network Society
  • Marilyn Strathern: Productive Breaks and Energising Gaps in the Worlds of Anthropology (Keynote)

December 9

  • Martina Leeker: Accept the Gap! Mediocrity for Digital Cultures
  • Nine Yamamoto-Masson: tba
  • Nicole Scheller: Being Invisible: Countersurveillance Strategies in Art and Design
  • Melissa Gregg: tba
  • Nishant Shah: tba
  • Sebastian Gießmann: A Very Short History of Credit Card Fraud

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The latest issue of the Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft includes a review I wrote about Lucian Hölscher’s book

Zeitgärten. Zeitfiguren in der Geschichte der Neuzeit (Göttingen 2020)

Zeitgärten - Lucian Hölscher | Wallstein Verlag

Its broad ranging insights into the theory of history builds on a close re-reading of 25 classics of historical writing from the 18th to the 21st century, from Ranke and Droysen up to Eric Hobsbawm, Mark Mazower, Ulrich Herbert and even my own PhD supervisor, Willibald Steinmetz. The book comes highly recommended to all interested in the theory of historiographical writing and its conteptualizations of historical temporality.

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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, 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.

As organizers, my colleague Adriejan van Veen (Nijmegen) and I are pleased to invite paper proposals from all fields of modern European history and its neighbouring disciplines.

Call for Papers

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

In recent decades, public commentators and political scientists alike have observed a widespread delegation of tasks from democratic to technocratic, international and market bodies. This ‘neoliberal’ displacement has often been pinpointed as the cause of dissolving ideological cleavages and of growing public disenchantment with politics. Yet while the shift of responsibilities from political to allegedly non-political spheres was long thought to have led to widespread political disengagement, recent upsurges in populism and identity politics have called this view into question. Are such recent developments to be understood as a repoliticization, in reaction to previous depoliticization? Or was the political never quite as deflated as we thought? Against this background, questions about the boundaries of the political sphere have again reached the top of both public and scholarly agendas.

Missing from such debates, however, is an expanded historical perspective on the complex entanglements of depoliticization and politicization processes. Research on political history often focuses on the many manifestations of politicization: the rise of political parties, mass movements, and popular leaders. Yet phenomena of depoliticization – the removal of particular issues from political agendas, the manufacturing of tacit political and ideological consent, and citizens’ non-participation – are often less visible and therefore far less studied. In recent years, historians of neoliberalism have started to explore this terrain, demonstrating how the institutional dismantling of the Keynesian welfare state involved the re-framing of contentious issues in terms of ‘natural’ globalization and economic ‘necessity’, placing them beyond the realm of collective deliberation. This workshop’s goal is to expand such insights beyond the narrow margins of the late 20th and 21st centuries: to study depoliticization processes and their interdependencies with politicization as an integral facet of European modernity since about 1750.

The workshop’s aims are threefold. The first is to improve our understanding of the contemporary dynamics of depoliticization and politicization by studying earlier iterations of their entanglements. Which discursive strategies and performative practices did historical actors from the late 18th to the 20th centuries employ to depoliticize certain issues? Is it true that depoliticization, as one prominent account puts it, ‘has to happen in a slow and unobtrusive way and that it is most effective when contemporaries do not even realize that it is taking place’ (Steinmetz/Haupt eds. 2013), or can it also be a publicly expressed strategy, as recent studies on neoliberalism have indicated? Under which conditions were past attempts at depoliticization successful? And when were non-contentious issues or processes eventually (re)politicized?

Secondly, the workshop aims to rethink the strong normative bent of current debates. Neoliberal delegation, citizens’ political abstention, and populism and identity politics are often approached as problems – aberrations of a mass democracy of engaged individuals respecting the boundaries of liberal debate. But this ideal is not only historically contingent; it is highly questionable if it has ever been fully realized. This workshop focuses on the plurality of historical contexts in which depoliticization and politicization processes took place, and on the diversity of actors, ideas and practices that drove them. How can these be compared between democratic and non-democratic regimes, and between various historical timeframes and geographical regions? To which spheres (economic, bureaucratic, legal, religious, scientific, private, etc.) did historical actors aim to displace contentious political issues and tasks, and how were such attempts contested and countered?

Thirdly, by analyzing the complex entanglements between depoliticization and politicization, this workshop seeks to enhance our understanding of ‘the political’ as a facet of historical modernity. The idea of the political as a specific sphere of social interactions has been contested since its emergence in the late 18th century. Depoliticization and politicization processes can therefore not simply be understood as a ‘decrease’ or ‘increase’ of activities aimed at this fixed realm. Instead, attempts at depoliticization or politicization should be seen as struggles between historical actors with very different conceptions of which institutions, actors, and practices count as ‘political’ and which do not. This leads to the questions how historical actors waged these struggles, which discourses and practices they implemented to achieve their respective aims, and which institutional or other changes resulted from such contestation of the limits of the political.

Submission guidelines

The workshop welcomes papers conducting (comparative) case studies on depoliticization in relation to its counterpart politicization. Cases can be drawn from any area in Europe and timeframe between the mid-18th and late-20th century. We also welcome papers on cases of global interactions with European areas, for example in transatlantic and (post)colonial settings. Paper proposals should include a preliminary title, an abstract of 250-300 words, and affiliation and contact details.

Abstracts can be submitted to adriejan.vanveen@ru.nl by October 1, 2021. Successful applicants will be notified before November 1.

The workshop will feature pre-circulation of first draft papers and oral presentations with subsequent discussion. It will take place at Radboud University, Nijmegen, on April 1–2, 2022, and/or partly or fully online, depending on the COVID-19 situation. Travel and accommodation expenses will be covered. The workshop is funded by the Thorbecke Fund of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (KNAW). A publication is intended.


For futher details, please contact the workshop organizers.

Dr. Adriejan van Veen (Radboud University Nijmegen), adriejan.vanveen@ru.nl
Dr. Theo Jung (Albert Ludwig University Freiburg), theo.jung@geschichte.uni-freiburg.de

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Between 14 and 25 June, the Association for Political History organizes its postponed international conference under the title “Layers and Connections of the Political”, regrettably online instead of in Rome.

Participation is free of charge after registration with the organizers (here).

On June 21, at 9.00 – 10.30 CET, I am part of the panel “‘Political Participation’ in Democracy History: A Contested and Ever-Changing Concept and Practice?”, organized by Anne Heyer (Leiden) and Zoé Kergomard (Paris).

Ido de Haan (Utrecht)
Harm Kaal (Nijmegen)


  • Anne Heyer (Leiden): When did the Masses become Political?
  • Theo Jung (Freiburg): Battling with Words or Fists? Changing Modes of Participation in Political Meetings in Britain and Germany (1867-1914)
  • Carlos Domper Lasús (Zaragoza): The University Work Service. A politicizing experience under Francoism, 1950-1970
  • Zoé Kergomard (Paris): Is electoral abstention also a form of democratic participation? Rethinking the value of voting in the young Vth Republic (1960s-1980s)

The whole program can be downloaded here.

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In November 2018, the Arbeitskreis Geschichte + Theorie in cooperation with the Centre for Contemporary History held a conference under the title “Times of the Event: A New Survey of a Historical Category”. Building on its papers and discussions, my colleague Anna Karla (Cologne) and I have been taking the topic further, lead to the publication of a forum in History & Theory.

The forum consists of an introduction and four contributions.

Abstracts can be found below. Most texts are available free of charge under a Creative Commons licence.

At this time, I would like to take the opportunity to thank my co-editor, Dr. Anna Karla, the contributors, Dr. Fernando Esposito and Dr. Britta Hochkirchen, as well as Dr. Jörn Eiben, who played a vital part in the early conceptualization of this project as well as in the organization of the original conference.

Theo Jung / Anna Karla: Times of the Event: An Introduction

This introduction sets the stage for the following contributions by outlining the current state of research on the two fundamental categories that this forum brings together: the event and time. In a brief survey, we discuss the ways in which the temporality of events has been theorized across disciplines. We also present our core argument for understanding the event as a temporal focal point. In dialogue with existing approaches, we seek to develop a theoretically enriched and empirically fruitful conceptualization of the event, thus offering new perspectives to the academic historiography of events as well as to historical culture at large.

Fernando Esposito: Despite Singularity: The Event and Its Manifold Structures of Repetition

This article’s principle interest is in the “structures of repetition” that characterize supposedly singular events. The starting point for the analysis is Reinhart Koselleck’s discussion of the event in “Structures of Repetition in Language and History.” Koselleck perceived events as arising from metahistorical structures that characterize all human histories regardless of the eras in which they took place and are narrated. This article scrutinizes Koselleck’s understanding of the event as well as the underlying “structures of repetition” shaping it. In considering the question of the temporality of the event, this article distinguishes three strata of repetitive structures. First, it examines a seemingly trivial historiographical structure of repetition of the event, which is the iterative proclamation of the return of the event. It then analyzes Koselleck’s foundational, yet rarely truly appreciated, “Structures of Repetition in Language and History” and maps out the fundamental structures of repetition, which are the conditions of possibility of events. Finally, it hints at a further linguistic stratum of repetitive structures. In light of growing interest in Koselleck’s work in both German and Anglophone historiography, this article systematizes the manifold structures of repetition against the backdrop of current explorations of the event’s temporality, thus surveying a facet of Koselleck’s pioneering work that is too often forgotten.

Britta Hochkirchen: Beyond Representation: Pictorial Temporality and the Relational Time of the Event

Pictures are often connected with the mediation of the event but, paradoxically, not with temporality as such. Although there are several existing approaches that focus on the interplay between the event and its literary representation, the relation between pictorial time and the temporal constitution of the event remains unexplored. The field of image theory has offered insights into the multiple dimensions of the picture’s temporality. It has shown that the picture’s temporality concerns not only the depicted event but also the picture’s immanent modes of producing different temporalities within one pictorial plane. The picture thus not only makes visible but also generates multilayered times of the event. This article brings together insights from image theory and from theories of historical times to demonstrate the relationship between the times of the event and the inner logic of the picture. In order to identify the various qualities of the picture that structure the times of the event, this article uses the case study of Reinhart Koselleck’s practical and theoretical work with pictures. This article reads Koselleck’s approaches to pictures alongside new insights concerning the relationality of time to the event and the picture. By exploring the picture’s agency with regards to the politics of time, this article lays bare the picture’s potential to structure the times of the event.

Theo Jung: Events Getting Ahead of Themselves: Rethinking the Temporality of Expectations

Whereas most theoretical and historiographical accounts of the event have focused on its present and past dimensions, this article addresses the relatively underexplored phenomenon of the future event. As temporal junctures, events often already elicit effects before they come to pass, and even if they never do. Building on foundational work on the relation between experience and expectation by Hans-Georg Gadamer and Reinhart Koselleck as well as on current historiographical debates on “past futures,” I develop a threefold typology of the future event, distinguishing between the assumption of the routine event, the expectation of the relative event, and the adumbration of the radical event. Engaging with case studies like the year 2000, the ambivalent character of socalled media events, and ongoing debates about a possible climate collapse and the COVID-19 pandemic, I show how reconsidering the complex temporalities of the future event can shed new light on the ways in which past societies made their futures present.

Anna Karla: Controversial Chronologies: The Temporal Demarcation of Historic Events

In everyday language and in historiography, influential events are commonly described as “historic” but are rarely defined from a theoretical standpoint. Discussing temporal demarcations of events by scholars—in particular William H. Sewell Jr.’s foundational study of the Storming of the Bastille—this article considers the contemporary urge to define the event’s temporal boundaries to better evaluate the alleged importance of certain events in history. Rather than perpetuating the constructivist idea that any event possesses a fundamentally interpretable character, it crafts a theoretical definition of the historic event that distinguishes between its flexible fringes and its rather stable core. Fixing an event as an anchor point on the timeline of history is thus presented as a process that provokes political, social, and—last but not least—financial controversies. As this article shows with examples from the history of revolutions reaching from the late eighteenth century to the early twenty‐first century, such epoch‐making events are essentially shaped by their flexible beginning and ending points. Although the cores of these events remain strikingly stable, their temporal fringes become objects of highly controversial discussions.

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