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Posts Tagged ‘Twentieth Century’

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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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.

Contact

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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In the summer semester of 2020, I will be teaching a course titled

Surviving – Experiencing – Writing: Diaries from National Socialist Concentration Camps

[Überleben – Erleben – Schreiben: Tagebücher aus nationalsozialistischen Konzentrationslagern]

These diaries provide a unique insight into the prisoners’ experiences in the camps as well as in the way they tried to cope with them through the medium of diary writing.

Building on research by Renata Laqueur, Alexandra Garbarini, Amos Goldberg, and especially Dominique Schröder – whose book on the topic has been announced for publication in June of this year – the primary goal of this course will be to give the students the opportunity to work directly with the sources.

In the current circumstances, this course will be the first one I will teach fully online, using a number of different tools. I’ve also started a collection of websites on the course topic available online.

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The new edition of Francia-Recensio includes a review by my hand of the edited volume

Fanny Platelle, Hélène Roth (dir.), Le déclin dans le monde germanique. Mots, discours et représentations (1914–2014), Reims (Éditions et presses universitaires de Reims) 2018

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The volume considers discourses of decadence, decline, and degeneration in the german-language world since the First World War. On the one hand, it aims to go beyond the normal focus on the late 19th century Kulturkritik. On the other, it includes a number of as yet unexplored thematic fields like architecture and city planning.

My review can be found here.

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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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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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This winter semester, I will be teaching one bachelors seminar and an exercise course. As usual, I have assembled a ‘pearltree’ for each of these courses with links to websites on their specific themes.

Bürgertum and Bourgeoisie: A Comparison between the German Empire and the French Third Republic
(Pearltree – websites on this topic)

and

Linguistic Violence and the Theater of Politics: a History of Political Rhetoric (1848-1945)
(Pearltree – websites on this topic)

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