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2023/24 will mark the 175-year anniversary of the revolutions of 1848/49. As a first step toward the planning for the commemoration of these events, a workshop in Rastatt brings together participants from many of the major German museums, memorials, and scholarly networks focusing on the history of the revolutions.

  • Gedenkort Friedhof der Märzgefallenen
  • Erinnerungsstätte für die Freiheitsbewegungen in der deutschen Geschichte, Rastatt
  • Gegen Vergessen – Für Demokratie e.V.
  • House of European History
  • Stiftung Bundespräsident Theodor-Heuss-Haus
  • Gedenkstätte Deutscher Widerstand
  • Förderverein Erinnerungsstätte für die Freiheitsbewegungen in der deutschen Geschichte e.V.
  • Historisches Museum Frankfurt
  • Offenburger Salmen
  • Bundesarchiv

Together with my colleague Dr. Heléna Toth (Bamberg University), I’ve been asked to present an overview over recent developments in historiographical research on the topic. Building on my own research, I will sketch some of the ways in which the revolutions of 1848/49 have been linked to the “Age of Revolutions”, placing them in wider transnational, European, and global contexts. In addition, we will discuss the place of the revolutions within the framework of the long-term history of “democracy” and “democratization” in Germany, Europe, and beyond.

The workshop will take place in Rastatt on November 4 and 5 of this year. More information about the program and registration (all are welcome) may 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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On February 7 and 8, I’m taking part in a workshop on current research on nineteenth century political and social history organized by the DFG funded Project Political Participation in the Provinces located at Saarland University.

I’m commenting on a panel on ‘Politics and Publicity’, encompassing papers by Angela Heinemann (Duisburg-Essen) on the emotional history of student associations and gymnastics in early nineteenth century Germany and by Christian Maiwald (Cologne) on the contestation of press censorship in Vienna in the same period.

Other panels address themes like ‘Participation in the Periphery’, ‘Elites’, ‘Politics and Religion’ (commented on by my colleague Christina Schröer), ‘Politics and Infrastructure’ (including a paper by my other colleague Konrad Hauber). The workshop is concluded by a general discussion moderated by Professor Armin Owzar (Paris).

Many thanks to the organizers, especially to Professor Gabriele Clemens and Amerigo Caruso for getting together what looks like a very interesting workshop.

The complete program can be found here.

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Under the title

Times of the Event: A New Survey of a Historical Category

(Die Zeiten des Ereignisses: Neuvermessung einer historischen Kategorie)

the organizers (Anna Karla (Köln), Jörn Eiben (Hamburg) and myself) are proud to announce the 40th workshop by the Arbeitskreis Geschichte + Theorie, this time in cooperation with the Centre for Contemporary History, to be held in Potsdam on November 9 – 10.

Focusing on its specific temporality, the workshop aims to develop a new theoretical understanding of the event as a fundamental historical category.

Participants include: Frank Bösch (Potsdam), Albert Schirrmeister (Paris), Tobias Hasenberg (Cologne), Thomas Mergel (Berlin), Britta Hochkirchen (Bielefeld), Ramon Voges (Leipzig), Caroline Rothauge (Eichstätt-Ingolstadt), Silvan Niedermeier (Erfurt), Achim Landwehr (Düsseldorf), Uwe Lübken (Munich), Christian Holtorf (Coburg), Alexander Gall (Munich), Iris Schröder (Erfurt), Tobias Becker (London) (more on his contribution here), Fernando Esposito (Tübingen), Ulrike Jureit (Hamburg) and Aleida Assmann (Constance).

The workshop program, including details on the venue, may be found here and here. The working language is German. All are welcome, but registration by email is appreciated.

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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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In January of 2014, a group of colleagues from the Freiburg history department and I founded the ‘Reading Workshop History and Theory’ (Lektürewerkstatt Geschichte und Theorie). Its aim is to bring together scholars and students from all disciplines of the humanities with an interest in the theoretical basis of their respective fields.

Starting point was the observation that although the necessity to coordinate theoretical reflection and empirical research is often stressed, in practice the links between the two aspects are often neglected. The reading workshop confronts this weakness by providing an informal forum for rigorous discussion of the theoretical foundations of research in the humanities.

Two years onward, we have been discussing a wide variety of themes, such as:

  • Postcolonialism
  • Walter Benjamin
  • Niklas Luhmann
  • Spatial turn
  • Carl Schmitt
  • Actor-Network-Theory
  • Paul Ricœur
  • Max Weber
  • Michel Foucault
  • … and many others

Since this is a self-organized group and not an official teaching course, we are flexible with regard to themes, dates as well as to the form of discussion.

Anyone in the Freiburg area – from the first semester student up to the PhD and beyond – interested in joining is cordially invited to send an email to: geschichteundtheorie@gmail.com.

Our poster:

Poster1.LGT

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Next week, 24 and 25 September, I’ll be participating in a workshop held in Marburg, titled:

Aristokratismus. Historische und literarische Semantik von ‘Adel’ zwischen Kulturkritik der Jahrhundertwende und Nationalsozialismus (1890-1945).

Aristocratism. Historical and Literary Semantics of ‘Aristocracy’ between Cultural Criticism of the Turn of the Century and National Socialism (1890-1945)

The workshop is part of a DFG-funded research project on the same theme and is organized by Prof. Dr. Eckart Conze, PD Dr. Jochen Strobel, Daniel Thiel und Jan de Vries.

My paper pursues a diachronic comparison of German discourses of cultural criticism around 1800 and around 1900, focussing on the differences in the use of semantics of aristocracy in these contexts. Thus, the paper offers an empirical case study using a model distinguishing between four dimensions of change in the history of cultural criticism I formulated last year on a conference in Heidelberg (soon to be published in its proceedings).

The Call for Papers for the Marburg workshop may be found here.

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Next week, I will be presenting a paper at an academic workshop organized by Juri Auderset, Andreas Behr, Philipp Müller and Aline Steinbrecher at the University of Fribourg (CH). The workshop’s topic is “Zeiterfahrung. Untersuchungen über Beschleunigung und Entschleunigung von Geschichte” (Temporal Experience: Studies on Acceleration and Deceleration in History). It’s ultimate goal is to prepare a special issue of the journal Traverse: Zeitschrift für Geschichte in 2016.

The topic of my paper is the variety of discourses of acceleration in nineteenth century germany. Considering the influential views of accelleration formulated by Hartmut Rosa and Reinhart Koselleck in terms of attempts at a general temporal theory of modernization, the paper points to the method of Historical Semantics as a way to more fruitfully  consider the plurality of experiences and discourses of temporality in this period. Instead of searching for a single, specific temporality of the modern era, the paper argues for a differentiated view of the pluriform ways in which contemporaries experienced the temporal nature of their own present.

See here for the call for fapers and here for the workshop’s program.

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On 9 and 10 July, I will be participating in a workshop in Berlin, organized by the DFG research network Auditory Knowledge in Transition. The workshop’s title is “Auditory Knowledge in Politics: The Sound of Power and the Power of Sounds”.

A keynote lecture by professor Monika Dommann of Zürich University with the title “Record, Rewind, Rewrite? Eine akustische Geschichtsschreibung der Presidential Tapes” will be held on Thursday July 9th, at 6 PM at the Seminarzentrum Silberlaube Otto-von-Simson-Straße 26 (Raum L 116). All are welcome.

I myself will comment upon a paper presented by my friend Daniel Morat of the Free University of Berlin.

plakat_dommann_930

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Some weeks ago, together with Franz Leander Fillafer, a colleague from Konstanz, I submitted a session proposal for the the 13th International Congress for Eighteenth Century Studies to be held in Graz (Austria) between July 25 and 29, 2011. Now, the text has been published on the website and the session is open for paper proposals (also through the website). For junior scholars, there are travel grants.

Session CS011:

Enlightenment from beginning to end

The question “What is Enlightenment”, still a bone of contention, is inseparably linked to two other issues unsatisfactorily neglected: When and how did it start, and why and when did it end?

As for the former question there seems to have been a robust, tacit consensus, tying Enlightenment’s rise to the critical exploration of nature in the seventeenth century, a phenomenon once described as the ‘scientific revolution’. Upon closer inspection, this account, which stressed secular and cognitive dimensions above all others, bears the clear the imprint of specific nineteenth-century preoccupations and attitudes. For this reason it has, in recent years, been progressively scrutinised. But this scrutiny will also have to engage with eighteenth-century perceptions of Enlightenment’s advent, ways of self-authentication both nuanced and scarcely inclined to follow retrospectively interpolated patterns.

What happened to the Enlightenment after its ostensible demise around 1800 is notoriously difficult to gauge. The problem is often bypassed by relying on the gridlocked epochal caesuras (1789/1800), by retrospectively describing specific eighteenth-century phenomena as premonitions (pre-Romanticism) or by declaring Enlightenment a transhistorical “project”, one still worth fighting for or still pernicious enough to be combated. Clearly, rewarding avenues of research may open up here.

As intimated, the location of Enlightenment’s beginnings and ends has not only been a problem bedevilling historical scholarship. In fact, it has been a point of departure for disputes over the character and development of the modern age, ranging from eighteenth-century controversies about the interpretation and value of Lumières/Aufklärung to debates about “postmodernism” and the “end of history”.

This panel invites proposals which, along this grid of questions, integrate the following  issues in creative ways, providing context-attuned studies throwing light on the question of how the beginnings of Enlightenment were mirrored by its ends, and vice-versa:

  • Eighteenth-century ‘genealogies’ of the enlightenment, both in self-descriptions of ‘enlightened’ authors and (negative) characterizations by others.
  • Forms and functions of narrating Enlightenment’s beginnings and ends in debates about the ‘modern age’ and ,modernity’ from the eighteenth-century to the present.
  • The heuristic value of specific analytic concepts (e.g. enlightened absolutism, Catholic Enlightenment, radical Enlightenment etc.) with respect to the question of periodization and the vicissitudes and fortunes of their application in distinct scholarly cultures under varying political auspices (liberal vs. conservative historiography etc.).
  • The specific temporal and intellectual contours of Enlightenment in aesthetic debates or circles, or in the construction of national canons of literature and art.

We will divide our section into sub-units with invited respondents/commentators after each.

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