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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.

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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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