European Democracies: Origins, Evolutions, Challenges –
A Workshop in Memory of Peter Blickle
German Historical Institute, London, 23-24 March 2018
Peter Blickle. Picture: Kyle Camenzind for ‘Gersau 2014’.
CALL FOR PAPERS
Gemeinde, Reformation und Widerstand – the title of his 1998 Festschrift captures three main research areas of the German historian Peter Blickle who died earlier this year. As one of the leading specialists of early modernity (or, as he would have preferred, the period of Alteuropa spanning from around 1300 to 1800), he transformed our view of the political and religious agency of burghers and peasants in the German lands (and much beyond). Monographs like The Revolution of the Common Man (original edn, 1975), The Communal Reformation (1987) and his two-volume conceptual survey on Kommunalismus (2000) shaped the field and inspired new generations of scholars, not least in the Anglophone world.
This workshop, to be held at the German Historical Institute London (GHIL) in March 2018 (coinciding with both the first anniversary of his death and the year in which he would have turned 80), seeks to commemorate Blickle’s life and work through a close focus on an overarching theme: popular participation in decision-making and government from the Middle Ages up to the present. His oeuvre highlighted ‘bottom-up’ influence through petitions, village / town councils, involvement in representative institutions (e.g. German Landtage) and various forms of active and passive resistance (most spectacularly in the Great Peasants’ War of 1524-26). Throughout his career, Blickle also addressed issues of continuity and rupture with regard to modernity, stressing centuries of communal self-government and grass-roots engagement against serfdom as important traditions to be considered alongside classical / Renaissance political thought and the human rights ideas of the Enlightenment and Atlantic Revolutions (Eine Geschichte der Freiheit in Deutschland, 2003).
The London gathering, co-organized by Wolfgang Behringer (Saarbrücken), Andreas Gestrich (GHIL) and Beat Kümin (Warwick) and kindly supported by the GHIL, German History Society and Warwick’s European History Research Centre, seeks to reinvigorate such debates at a time when democracy (appearing to triumph after 1990) is facing fresh challenges through voter apathy, the rise of populist movements and the spectre of authoritarian regimes (to name but a few), also in Europe. Rather than a ‘mere’ celebration of Blickle’s life and work, contributors – made up of former colleagues and pupils as well as other researchers – will examine related issues from fresh perspectives and for a variety of chronological contexts (also addressing some of the gaps in Blickle’s oeuvre, e.g. relating to gender relations and the ‘new cultural history’).
We now invite proposals for 20-minute papers on any aspect of the themes sketched above. Preference may be given to research students and emerging scholars with current projects in the field. Abstracts (of max. two pages) and a biographical note should be emailed to email@example.com by 30 November 2017.
The organizers can offer free registration, meals and one night of London accommodation; additional support for travel costs may be available. Successful applicants will be notified by the end of December. A call for workshop registrations will be issued early in 2018.