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Posts Tagged ‘Silence’

Together with Mónica Brito Vieira (York), Sean W. D. Gray (Harvard), and Toby Rollo (Lakehead, Canada), I published a Critical Exchange in the journal Contemporary Political Theory titled

The Nature of Silence and Its Democratic Possibilities

It consists of four contributions and an introduction.

  • Silence as a Mode of Political Communication: Negotiating Expectations – Theo Jung.
  • Interpreting Silence: A Note of Caution – Sean W.D. Gray.
  • Two Political Ontologies and Three Models of Silence: Voice, Signal, and Action – Toby Rollo.
  • Silent Agency – Mónica Brito Vieira.

A pre-publication online version of the text can be read here, the published version here.

The Critical Exchange proposes a reconsideration of the multifarious forms and functions of silence in the political field, which cannot be reduced to the effects of silencing or of secrecy alone, but also encompass silent resistance, denial and a multitude of performative practices constitutive of individual or group identities.

My own contribution concerns the current state of research into political silences and some of its weaknesses. It proposes a re-orientation focused on the role of expectations, starting from the premise that communicative silence functions as the expressive omission of an expected signal.

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Julian Scott: Empire of Silence, Swiss Expo 2002.

Many thanks to my co-contributors, but especially to Mónica for inviting us to York and for organizing this publication.

As a group, we are working on another special issue on this topic, currently under review at the Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy.

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Johan Schloemann, a journalist at the Süddeutsche Zeitung, has published a short article on the edited volume Zwischen Handeln und Nichthandeln: Unterlassungspraktiken in der europäischen Moderne and about my contribution about the withholding of applause and acclamation as a form of protest.

It may be found here.

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In the Handbuch Sound edited by Daniel Morat and Hansjakob Ziemer, which is now available both as eBook and hardcover, my article on

Silence / Schweigen

provides a survey of the wide and sprawling interdisciplinary landscape of ‘silence research’ with a special focus on the subject’s political dimensions. After an overview over various approaches and empirical fields, the contribution argues for the need for a stronger analytical integration of two aspects that have hitherto mostly been considered separately: the spectrum of cultural meanings of silence on the one hand and the pragmatics of its use as a particular mode of language on the other.

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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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On April 6 to 7, I will participate in a conference organized by the History of Parliament research group in cooperation with Prof. Christopher Reid of Queen Mary University London.

The conference program may be found here.

My own paper, titled

“A Rhetoric of Silence: Silent Members in the July Monarchy Chamber of Deputies (1830-1848)”,

will be concerned with the rhetorical role of the silent members in the parliamentary debates of the July Monarchy. As I will argue, these silent members were anything but passive. Rather, they developed a complex rhetoric of their own, playing a significant role in the development of debates.

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Taking a short break from my research in the London archives and the British Library and the many interesting workshops at the German Historical Institute, I am returning to Germany for a short visit to present my research at the

Colloquium of the Chair of Modern and Contemporary History at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich (Prof. Dr. Thomas Etzemüller, substituting for Prof. Dr. Margit Szöllösi-Janze) on November 12th

as well as at a workshop of the

Arbeitskreis Geschichte und Theorie in Berlin on November 14th.

I’m looking forward to the opportunity to discuss my project in these very different contexts.

 

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