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My edited volume

Zwischen Handeln und Nichthandeln: Unterlassungspraktiken in der europäischen Moderne
(Between Action and Inaction: Practices of Omission in European Modernity)

has been published by Campus (flyer, contents).

Jung Zwischen Handeln und Nichthandeln

From non-voting through consumer boycotts up to the minute of silence: in many cases it is not action, but rather its omission, which produces the most poignant social and political effects.

This volume is the first systematic analysis of this hybrid phenomenon, in which activity and inactivity overlap. Building on a range of case studies from nineteenth and twentieth century Europe, the contributions explore the peculiar logic and historical impact of practices of ommission. Their analysis brings to the fore a type of social and political practice that has hitherto received scant scholarly attention. At the same time, it promises to shed new light on the structures and dynamics of modern societies, since what it means not to do something in any given context is inseparably linked to current expectations regarding ‘normal’ or ‘legitimate’ behavior. Thus, the conflicts and controversies surrounding moments of socio-political inactivity (be they out of lethargy, disinterest, avoidance or outright refusal) point beyond themselves to the horizon of expectations and the constraints of action in various historical constellations.

The volume encompasses ten contributions, most of which were first discussed at a workshop I organized in Freiburg in September 2017. A few were added later on, to enrich the spectrum of historical contexts and practices.

Contents

Einleitung

  • Theo Jung: Bartleby und das Unterlassen: Elemente einer historischen Praxeologie des Nicht/Handelns

I. Verzichten: Politische Teilnahmeerwartungen in der Kontroverse

  • Hedwig Richter: Das Desinteresse an politischen Wahlen: Preußen und die USA im 19. Jahrhundert
  • Wim de Jong: Partizipationsunterlassung, Antipolitik und Apathie als repertoires of democracy: Die Niederlande im europäischen Kontext (1945-1990)
  • Christian Halbrock: Nicht-Handeln und Nicht-Mitmachen: Nicht erfüllte Erwartungen und politisch abweichendes Verhalten in der DDR

II. Innehalten: Inaktivität und Vergesellschaftung

  • Yvonne Robel: Vom Appell zur Anleitung: Ratschläge zum Nichtstun seit den 1950er Jahren
  • Benjamin Möckel: Partizipationsverweigerung in der Konsumgesellschaft: Boykott und politischer Protest im 20. Jahrhundert
  • Armin Owzar: “The End of Conversation”? Prolegomena zu einer Geschichte des Schweigens in politischer Kommunikation

III. Aussetzen: Symbolische Performanzen der Unterlassung

  • Theo Jung: Ausbleibender Beifall: Akklamationsverweigerung als Modus öffentlichen Protests in Frankreich (1789-1848)
  • Karsten Lichau: “A complete susension of all our normal activities”: Praktiken des Nicht/Handelns in der Schweigeminute

Ausblick: Philosophische Perspektiven

  • Jochen Gimmel: Zum Begriff des Nicht/Handelns und der Hoffnung, Geschichte zum Stillstand bringen zu können

Thanks

I am very grateful to the Chair of Modern Europan History (Prof. Dr. Jörn Leonhard), the Frankreich-Zentrum and the Sonderforschungsbereich 1015 Muße. Grenzen, Raumzeitlichkeit, Praktiken at the Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg, but especially to the Gerda Henkel Stiftung for their generous funding of this research project throughout its various stages. This publication would not have been possible without the help of Dr. Dominique Schröder, Timo Holz and Anna Mashi. The text was meticulously proofread by Christoph Roolf. For his coordination of the publishing process, my thanks go out to Jürgen Hotz of Campus Verlag.

Reception

The volume has been discussed and reviewed in various contexts.

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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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The ‘digital research guide’ to the field of nineteenth century history my colleagues and I of the Chair of Modern Western European History at Freiburg University published in 2016 has been updated to include some new material and links.

In this text, we present a broad overview over the digital resources presently available to historians of the ‘long’ nineteenth century, ranging from search catalogues and source databases to institutional frameworks and communication platforms. It aims to ‘guide’ the student and scholar through this new field of expertise as well as provide a critical evaluation of the possibilities and pitfalls opened up by the availability of these new gateways to information and source materials.

The updated edition is available here.

In addition to this guide, a link database on digital resources for historians I curate using the platform Pearltrees is available here.

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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 new volume in the series Parlamente in Europa, edited by Marie-Luise Recker and Andreas Schulz, both of the German Commission for the History of Parliamentarism and Political Parties, includes a chapter I wrote:

Der Feind im eigenen Hause.
Antiparlamentarismus im Reichstag 1867-1918
(The Enemy Within: Antiparliamentarism in the Reichstag 1867-1918)

Abstract
Taking the German imperial Reichstag as a case study, the chapter studies the behavior of parliamentarians critical of the institution in which they were themselves members. Combining some famous individual cases (Wilhelm Liebknecht, Elard von Oldenburg-Januschau) with a statistical analysis of the debates’ minutes, it argues that in most cases, even the most ardent anti-parliamentarians were much more integrated into the House’s common practices and culture than their aggressive utterances would suggest.

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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.

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On September 29 and 30, I organize a workshop in Freiburgs Liefmann-Haus (Goethestraße 33-35) under the title

In/Action: Socio-Political Practices of Non-Participation in European Modernity

Nicht/Handeln: Sozio-politische Praktiken der Partizipationsunterlassung in der europäischen Moderne

In contexts in which specific forms of participation are expected, remaining inactive can itself be considered a type of action. Their paradoxical nature notwithstanding, such instances of in/action can produce significant effects, both in terms of symbolic and of practical impact. On the basis of case studies from the European history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the workshop discusses the specific nature and significance of non-participation in a variety of contexts. Engaging with modes of in/action as a specific variety of passive activity, it seeks to understand a type of social and political practices that has hitherto received scant scholarly attention.

Besides opening up new vistas of research, the study of in/action also promises to shed new light on structures of participation in modern societies and their historical development. For what it means not to do something is inseparably linked to current expectations with regard to ‘normal’ or ‘normative’ behavior in a given context. As such, the conflicts and controversies surrounding the failure to participate point beyond themselves to the expectations and constraints of action in various historical constellations.

All are welcome.

Nicht.Handeln.Poster

The preliminary program (in German) is as follows (download it here):

Freitag, 29. September 2017

9:30 – 10:00

Ankunft und Begrüßung

10:00 – 10:30

Einführung – Theo Jung (Freiburg)

10:30 – 12:30

Sektion I: Konflikt ohne Widerspruch: Politisches Handeln durch Auslassung und Unterlassung

  • Das Desinteresse an politischen Wahlen im 19. Jahrhundert – Hedwig Richter (Hamburg)
  • Conspicuous Non-Consumption. Konsumboykotts als politische Proteststrategie im 20. Jahrhundert – Benjamin Möckel (Köln)
  • Beharren und Verweigerung als Formen des politisch abweichenden Verhaltens in der DDR – Christian Halbrock (Berlin)
  • Kommentar – Michael Freeden (Oxford/London)

12:45 – 14:00

Mittagspause

14:15 – 16:15

Sektion II: Einstieg und Ausstieg: Teilhabe und die Konturen der modernen Gesellschaft

  • Aussteiger. Überlegungen zu einer Figur des 20. Jahrhunderts – Tobias Weidner (Göttingen)
  • Aufrufe und Anleitungen zum Nichtstun seit den 1950er Jahren – Yvonne Robel (Hamburg)
  • Ausstieg vom Ausstieg. Die westdeutsche ‘Jobber-Bewegung’ der 1980er Jahre als doppelte Verweigerung gegen bürgerliches Arbeitsethos und alternative Lebens- und Arbeitsideale – Jörg Neuheiser (Tübingen)
  • Kommentar – Thomas Welskopp (Bielefeld)

16:15 – 16:45

Pause

16:45 – 18:45

Paneldiskussion: Grenzen der Leistungsgesellschaft? Aktuelle Perspektiven

  • Achim Lenz (Haus Bartleby)
  • Jochen Gimmel (Freiburg)

Samstag, 30. September 2017

9:30 – 11:15

Sektion III: ‘… that no matter how one may try, one cannot not communicate.’ Kommunikation und ihr Gegenteil

  • Ausbleibender Applaus: Akklamationsverweigerung als Form öffentlichen Protests in Frankreich (c. 1780-1848) – Theo Jung (Freiburg)
  • ‘Mon affliction filiale’: Dynastie und Völkerrecht im 19. Jahrhundert – Torsten Riotte (Frankfurt a. M.)
  • ‘The End of Conversation’? Debatten über das Schweigen in politischer Face-to-Face-Kommunikation in Deutschland und den USA (1960-2010) – Armin Owzar (Paris)
  • Kommentar – Kerstin Brückweh (Potsdam)

11:30 – 12:30

Schlussdiskussion und Verabschiedung


Mit freundlicher Unterstützung von:

Gerda Henkel Stiftung
Frankreich-Zentrum der Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
SFB 1015 Muße. Grenzen, Raumzeitlichkeit, Praktiken
Lehrstuhl für Neuere und Neueste Geschichte Westeuropas, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg

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The journal Traverse: Zeitschrift für Geschichte has just published a special issue on the topic of Temporal Experiences: Acceleration and Plural Temporalities (Zeiterfahrungen: Beschleunigung und plurale Temporalitäten). The table of contents may be found here.

In it, I have published a contribution on the concept of acceleration under the title:

Beschleunigung im langen 19. Jahrhundert: Einheit und Vielfalt einer Epochenkategorie

[Acceleration in the Long 19th Century: Unity and Plurality of a Temporal Category]

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The essay starts by contrasting the influential theories of acceleration formulated by Reinhart Koselleck and Hartmut Rosa. On this basis, it argues for a new approach to the history of acceleration based in the methodical tradition of Historical Semantics.

From this point of view, the usual interpretation of acceleration as the distinguishing and dominant temporal mode of the modern era is left behind in favor of a more empirical approach. Taking German debates on the topic during the 19th century as a case study, the article shows how acceleration was not a singular phenomenon (defining the modern era) at all. Rather, it could have many different meanings according to the perspective and interests of various groups as well as the changing historical contexts. In this manner, the article argues for a differentiated focus on the ways in which ‘modern’ people interpreted their own temporality instead of the sweeping, but ultimately oversimplified identification of modernity as the ‘era of acceleration’.

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The recent issue of the Dutch journal De Negentiende Eeuw published my review of Henk te Veldes new study

Sprekende politiek: Redenaars en hun publiek in de parlementaire gouden eeuw

[Speaking Politics: Orators and their Audience in the Golden Age of Parliamentarism]

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The book, which analyses the history of parliamentary rhetoric in Great Britain and France throughout the ‘long’ nineteenth century, comes highly recommened, both to scholars of the period and to a wider public.

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