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Calibrating Narratives of Violence in 20th Century Europe: Liberal, Fascist, Communist, (Post-) Colonial

Conference, Prague, 28–30 November 2024

Date of event
28. 11. 2024 – 30. 11. 2024
Place of event
Prague

Organizers

Chair of History of Eastern Europe, University of Konstanz; Masaryk Institute and Archives of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague

Conference

The conference aims to strengthen a pan-European view on the history of violence, one not predetermined by pigeon-holing research problems into specific ‘historical regions’ but driven by an interest in comparable historical phenomena which, while occurring in different places at different times, were essentially similar and therefore explicable. Such a view of European history does not consider phenomena as prisoners of ‘regions’ or ‘systems’, whether East and West, dictatorship and democracy, socialism, capitalism and colonialism, but as manifold variations of the path to and through modernity.

The Chair of History of Eastern Europe at the University of Konstanz, in cooperation with the Masaryk Institute and Archives of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, invites applications to a two-day conference exploring conceptual, interpretational and narrative issues connected with the historiography of violence in modern Europe. Focusing on the long 20th century, the conference investigates the possibilities of researching and writing an integrated history of various forms of violence that occurred in Europe or were conducted by European actors outside Europe. The workshop is a part of a series of events within the programme ‘Violence in East and West — Towards an Integrated History of 20th Century Europe’, funded by the Volkswagen Foundation.

While the historiography of 20th century European violence has expanded significantly during the past two decades, important issues remain unresolved. With recurrently emerging identity clashes and geopolitical conflicts in the post-1989 period, writing of the history of violence has continually faced the challenge of being departmentalised by polarizing perspectives, often originating in the Cold War era. Thus, despite the impressive progress of transnational and comparative approaches, violence in Eastern Europe has often been considered ‘fundamentally different’. While the war in Ukraine has placed Eastern Europe back at the centre of attention, it also revived its conventional image as backward and violent. To counteract this trend, this conference seeks to widen European history by demonstrating how ‘East’ and ‘West’ can successfully be researched together. We focus not only on large-scale, politically motivated violence, but also on 'ordinary' violence which occurs in society every day and how these various levels intersected. By placing communist experience at the core of European history, our aim is to accentuate the connectivity between violence and political order, which becomes obscured by the overwhelmingly peaceful history of post-1945 Western Europe.

In this way, the conference aims to strengthen a pan-European view on the history of violence, one not predetermined by pigeon-holing research problems into specific ‘historical regions’ but driven by an interest in comparable historical phenomena which, while occurring in different places at different times, were essentially similar and therefore explicable. Such a view of European history does not consider phenomena as prisoners of ‘regions’ or ‘systems’, whether East and West, dictatorship and democracy, socialism, capitalism and colonialism, but as manifold variations of the path to and through modernity.

Seeking to create an environment for exchange between scholars working on similar subjects within the history of violence but in different regions, our conference intends to address (but is not limited to) the following themes:

Papers may deal with both overall conceptual issues and specific case studies. Of interest is the period from the late 19th to the early 21st century. The geographic focus of the conference is Europe as a whole as well as regions outside Europe where European powers perpetrated violence. Comparative papers crossing the East-West, North-South, colonial-non-colonial etc. divisions are particularly welcomed. It is our goal to publish selected papers in an edited volume of short essays.

Invited speakers and discussants will include:

Applications

Applications should be sent by 15 April 2024 to Pavel Kolář (pavel.kolar@uni-konstanz.de) and Maria Buko (maria.buko@uni-konstanz.de). Please send the application as a single word document with your surname in the file name. The document should contain:

1) An abstract (300 words)
2) A short biographical statement (150 words)
3) Contact details

Selected applicants will be notified by 25 April 2024.

The conference will start in the afternoon of Thursday 28 November 2024, and will conclude in the morning of Saturday 30 November.

Meals and accommodation in Prague for the duration of the conference (2 nights, 28-30 November 2024) will be provided for all accepted speakers. The organisers will cover travel costs within Europe.

Contact (announcement)

Prof. Pavel Kolář
Universitätsstraße 10
Fach 11
78464 Konstanz
Germany
pavel.kolar@uni-konstanz.de

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