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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.


The preliminary program (in German) is as follows:

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

  • ‘Mon affliction filiale’: Dynastie und Völkerrecht im 19. Jahrhundert – Torsten Riotte (Frankfurt a. M.)
  • Das Desinteresse an politischen Wahlen im 19. Jahrhundert – Hedwig Richter (Hamburg)
  • Beharren und Verweigerung als Formen des politisch abweichenden Verhaltens in der DDR – Christian Halbrock (Berlin)
  • Kommentar – Michael Freeden (Oxford/London)

12:30 – 14:00

Mittagspause

14:00 – 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)
  • Conspicuous Non-Consumption. Konsumboykotts als politische Proteststrategie im 20. Jahrhundert – Benjamin Möckel (Köln)
  • 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)
  • ‘A complete suspension of all our normal activities’. Praktiken der Nicht-Partizipation in der Schweigeminute – Karsten Lichau (Berlin)
  • ‘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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After some delay, a research guide written by my colleagues and me at the chair of Western European History at Freiburg University has been published on the Clio-Online platform.

Theo Jung / Sonja Levsen / Sabine Mischner / Friedemann Pestel / Christina Schröer, Das lange 19. Jahrhundert, in: Clio Guide – Ein Handbuch zu digitalen Ressourcen für die Geschichtswissenschaften, Hrsg. von Laura Busse, Wilfried Enderle, Rüdiger Hohls, Gregor Horstkemper, Thomas Meyer, Jens Prellwitz, Annette Schuhmann, Berlin 2016 (=Historisches Forum, Bd. 19), http://www.clio-online.de/guides/epochen/das-lange-neunzehnte-jahrhundert/2016.

In it, 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.

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The proceedings of a conference I attended two years ago in Heidelberg have been published as volume 18 in the series Schriften zur politischen Kultur der Weimarer Republik by Peter Lang.

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My own contribution, titled

Eine “Klage, die so alt ist, als die Geschichte”? Dimensionen des Wandels im Diskurs der modernen Kulturkritik

(A “Complaint as old as History itself”? Dimensions of Change in the Discourse of Modern Cultural Criticism)

develops an analytical model to describe four dimensions of change in the modern discourse of cultural criticism since the late eighteenth century.

Click here for the volume’s contents, a short introductory text, part of the introduction and the publisher’s page.

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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:

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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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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.

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