Oxford – Mainz PhD Workshop 2022

Call for Papers: Joint Mainz-Oxford-Graduate Workshop: “European History across Boundaries from the Sixteenth to the Twentieth Century”

Participants of the 2019 Workshop in the Oriel College Library

Academy Conveners: Noëmie Duhaut (Leibniz Institute of European History, Mainz), Johannes Paulmann (Leibniz Institute of European History, Mainz) and Lyndal Roper (University of Oxford)

Venue: Oriel College, Oxford University

Date: 30 March – 1 April 2022

Deadline for Applications: 15 December 2021

We invite applications for an international doctoral workshop on European history across boundaries from the 16th to the 20th century, including Europe’s relations with the world. We encourage PhD candidates working in this field to present their research projects and discuss the transcultural and transnational scopes of their work. Topics that aim to cross and reflect on boundaries and borders are of particular interest. Projects can employ a variety of methodological approaches such as comparative studies, the study of transfer processes and entanglements, or the histoire croisée. The location of the joint workshop alternates annually between Mainz and Oxford. The 2022 workshop will be at Oriel College in Oxford and include a discussion of disputed historical monuments – such as the Cecil Rhodes statue in this college – and their future.

We will discuss pre-circulated papers based on archival research (max. 8,000 words, written in English, to be submitted by 1 March 2022). We will provide accommodation for the duration of the workshop and contribute towards travel expenses within Europe.

Proposals should include an abstract of the overall project and its archival sources (500 words), a brief biographical note, and a completed application form, which you can download here: https://bit.ly/3mzdHrh. Please combine all your application documents into a single PDF except for the application form.

Applications should be sent to gw@ieg-mainz.de by 15 December 2021. For any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the organisers.

Contact: Dr Noëmie Duhaut, Leibniz Institute of European History, Alte Universitätsstr. 19, 55116 Mainz, Germany, +49 6131-39 39428, gw@ieg-mainz.de

The Path of Escape in the Age of Touristic Reproduction

Phil Kuehlthau

Graffiti at the wayside (photo: Phil Kuehlthau)

Walter Benjamin’s last resort for escaping the National Socialists in the autumn of 1940 was a path across the Pyrenees, which led from the French village of Banyuls-sur-Mer to Portbou in Spain. However, this path ended in a “situation with no way out” (Brodersen, p. 245). After Benjamin arrived in Portbou and was forced to return to France by Spanish authorities, he committed suicide.

Since 2007, Benjamin’s escape route has been marked as the Chemin Walter Benjamin. It invites those interested in cultural history to follow the path. But what exactly is marked by the Chemin Walter Benjamin?

The source material is problematic. Our knowledge depends on the memories of Lisa Fittko, Walter Benjamin’s escape agent, who described the path they took together in her memoirs. Her autobiography was written 40 years later, based on blurred and overlain memories, after her innumerable ascents of the Pyrenees. In historical science, one has to treat such a record as a questionable source. Continue reading

The Aftermath of the First World War: Humanitarianism in the Mediterranean

Convenors: Silvia Salvatici (University of Milan) and Johannes Paulmann (Leibniz Institute of European History Mainz) in  co-operation with the German Historical Institute Rome and the Villa Vigoni – German Italian Centre for European Excellence

Date: 3 – 4 December 2019

Venue: University of Milan, Italy

Download Humanitarianism_programme

Escape Assistance in the Course of Time: From Lisa Fittko to Carola Rackete

Julian Kaiser/Marieke Wist

“We couldn’t judge anymore how people would react. For example, from the beginning there were people who said that they would go on hunger strike. Or we had people who, after there was a partial evacuation, asked if they would all have to get sick first or jump overboard to be rescued. And then you have to ask yourself if this could become real. No one can think clearly in such a situation.”

Sea-Watch Captain Carola Rackete

By recounting this emergency situation, the captain Carola Rackete justified her decision to call at the port of Lampedusa and bring 43 remaining refugees ashore on the night of 29 June 2019, after 17 days on board the “Sea Watch 3.”Rackete’s solo efforts created a media and political storm: Italy’s Minister of the Interior, Matteo Salvini, described her as an “accomplice of human traffickers” as well as a “rich and spoiled German communist” and a “criminal captain.” Right-wing populist parties in Europe, like the Lega Nord and the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), did not hold back harsh criticism of Rackete and the refugee phenomenon itself. Different attempts were made to delegitimize her actions.

Others expressed support for Rackete’s decision by providing financial support in the form of massive donations (a total of almost 1.4 million euros was raised by 9 July in Germany and Italy alone). NGOs like “Sea Watch” were recognized as necessary in maintaining a minimum of humanity when dealing with refugees. Thus, effective publicity campaigns questioned European laws and procedures and worked to legitimize Rackete’s actions. Continue reading

Escape Assistance: An Enterprise with Varying Risks

Filip Schuffert

(photo: Filip Schuffert)

What in the photograph looks like a beautiful landscape today, used to be a dangerous border crossing zone between France and Spain in the first half of the 20th century, which many people crossed in flight.

Flight refers to escape by way of physical movement. However, people are not always able to flee by relying only on themselves. In some cases, people are locked up, as in the case of prison inmates, and perhaps hope for the aid of guards. Others stand in front of seemingly insurmountable seas, mountains or rivers and depend on the help of people who know the landscape and its secret pathways. One such example is Walter Benjamin, who fled across the Pyrenees, this beautiful landscape depicted above, in September 1940 with the help of Lisa Fittko. Others are confronted with “closed” borders and need the support of border guards. People who flee with the help of others take risks. They have to trust others out of necessity, and thus put their destiny in their hands.

Escape assistance can take various forms. Those who provide aid can furnish provisions and hide refugees, they can also issue new passports or lead refugees across a mountain range – as Lisa Fittko did. She not only helped Walter Benjamin but also numerous other refugees to cross the Pyrenees. Escape aid is any action that is carried out to help those escaping risk of death by persecution, torture or death. Escape assistance should not be considered as lugging (Schlepperei), which is motivated by enrichment, in principle. It can be an act of resistance against a political regime, but can also be carried out for humanitarian or altruistic reasons without material motivation (even today, human trafficking without intent to enrich goes largely unpunished). Continue reading

Memory-Work in Process? The Internment Camp in Gurs

Sarah Noske

Memorial site in Gurs (photo: Dennis Riemann)

In 1939, around 100 internment camps were created in France, among them the one in Gurs at the bottom of the Pyrenees. Originally, this camp was built for refugees leaving Spain in the context of the Spanish Civil War. Under the Vichy Regime, the camp was used primarily for the internment of German Jews, fighters of the Résistance, and so-called hostile foreigners. During this time, the camp consisted of 428 huts, which were composed of little “ilôts” (islands), each “ilôt” separated from others by barbed wire. In 1944, the camp was used for the internment of fleeing Spanish refugees and about 300 members of the Wehrmacht. Because of the bad hygienic conditions, more than 3000 humans died in the internment camp in Gurs.

Gate of the cemetery (photo: Sarah Noske)

The “memory work” at the camp in Gurs began very early, shortly after the end of the Second World War. In 1945, the Jewish communities of the Basses-Pyrénées set up a monument to remember the Jews who had suffered or died in Gurs. In 1957, the mayor of Karlsruhe became aware of the dilapidation of the cemetery in Gurs. As 6504 Jews from Baden had been deported to Gurs in October 1940, he pleaded for the reconstruction of the cemetery. The rebuilt cemetery was officially opened in March 1963. Other communities of Baden were also involved in the renovation of the cemetery. Furthermore, two steles were erected on the grounds of the cemetery: one in the middle of the cemetery in order to commemorate the Jewish victims and another one in the entrance area. It remembers the victims of the International Brigades.

Cemetry (photo: Sarah Noske)

Continue reading

The “Chemin Walter Benjamin” in the Competition of Remembrance

Sarah Noske

“Passages” by Dani Karavan (photo: Dennis Riemann)

“Schwerer ist es, das Gedächtnis der Namenlosen zu ehren als das der Berühmten. Dem Gedächtnis der Namenlosen ist die historische Konstruktion geweiht.“

(“It is harder to honour the memory of the nameless than that of the famous. Historical construction is dedicated to the memory of the nameless.”)

“Passages” by Dani Karavan (photo: Phil Kuehlthau)

These two phrases are written on the monument “Passages” created by the artist Dani Karavan in front of the Mediterranean Sea in the bay of Portbou in memory of Walter Benjamin. They are drawn from Benjamin’s last essay “On the Concept of History,” written in 1939, one year before he committed suicide in Portbou, Spain. Both phrases give an idea of what historical work should be dedicated to according to Benjamin: to the remembrance of the nameless, whose memory is more difficult to honour than that of the famous.

Memory is closely linked to oblivion: According to Aleida Assmann, oblivion is, in contrast to memory, the norm. In communities such as societies, not everything can be remembered, and that is the reason why such communities need to decide what (events, experiences, acts etc.) and who (individual persons or collective groups) to remember. But who are the agents of remembrance? Continue reading

A View from the Past of the Flight across the Mediterranean Sea: Walking the “Chemin Walter Benjamin”

Phil Kuehlthau

View of the Mediterranean Sea (photo: Phil Kuehlthau)

Walking the Chemin Walter Benjamin means commemorating both the escape of Walter Benjamin from National Socialist Germany and further movements of flight and migration in the 20th century. Besides, connecting the chemin to our present day can hardly be avoided. The view of the Mediterranean Sea, which slips constantly into the visual field while one hikes to Portbou, provides access to Benjamin’s notion of the relationship between past and present.

Why do we hike along the Chemin Walter Benjamin just at a time when there is a lot of migration and movements of escape towards Europe? At a time when people put their lives at risk at sea? At a time when there is a contentious debate about the legitimacy of sea rescue?

According to Benjamin, interest in historical events is fed by a feeling of recognizing oneself and one’s own fate in the past. Only in specific ages are specific historical knowledge and perceptions intelligible. Any historical knowledge refers to its origin in time. Our 2019 view on German Unification, for example, differs from that of twenty years ago. Awareness of a phenomenon like the success of a right-wing extremist party – not only, but especially – in the eastern Federal States of Germany, has led us to think differently about politics and its possible failures in the last decades, or the social and cultural legacy of the German Democratic Republic. Without the appearance of the Alternative for Germany (AfD), we would not have thought of those aspects. Continue reading

Following the Fugitive: Reflections on the Concept of Memorial Routes and the Possibilities of Representing Escape

Anne Friedrichs & Bettina Severin-Barboutie

Multilingual remembrance of the escape situation in Portbou, Spain (photo: Anne Friedrichs)

As recently as 2015, travellers to Turin and eight other south and west European cities (Milan, Genoa, Florence and Rome, Paris and Marseille, Valencia as well as Lisbon) could take advantage of a special offer: a city tour provided by migrant residents. This initiative, co-funded by the European Union, aimed to allow visitors to experience the city “through different eyes.” The tourists took on the role of migrants whereas the latter functioned as locals. Thus, different forms of mobility – such as migration and travel – and their appendant overlaps and effects could be explored conjointly.

But the question arises: Can we indeed trace the historical experiences of heterogeneous migrants through such participatory tourist practices? Can we apply the public enactments and shared personal experiences of guided tours likewise to forms of mobility such as escape, which are associated with existential threat and which have been controversially discussed and managed, for instance since 2015? What can historians contribute in view of recent disputes in Europe and elsewhere, particularly given the necessity of balancing different historical experiences, interpretations and memories?

Following a frequently used refugee route

In some regions, refugee movements form part of public commemorative culture. Among numerous other memories, histories of flight and escape are thus immediately visible there. As part of a curricular excursion, we travelled to such a region, namely the French-Spanish Pyrenees, along with students of the Justus Liebig University Giessen in the summer term of 2019. Our focus was a 15 km trail that cuts through the mountains. This trail follows the refugee route taken by Walter Benjamin in his attempted escape from French Banyuls-sur-Mer to Portbou in Spain. Continue reading

Europe, 1850 – 1914: Global Dominance and the Belief in Progress

Globale Vorherrschaft und Fortschrittsglaube. Europa 1850 – 1914 (C.H. Beck Geschichte Europas)

In his newly published history of Europe, Johannes Paulmann describes the major changes Europeans experienced and brought about during the second half of the nineteenth century. They laid the material and intellectual foundations some of which affect the continent and the world until today.

Europe saw an encompassing transformation between 1850 and 1914. The use of fossil energy enabled enormous gains in productivity. People, goods, and ideas were mobilised across Europe and the globe with the speed of communication increasing rapidly. The future seemed dynamic and open. Yet, the far-reaching changes also generated doubts. The belief in progress went hand in hand with criticism of materialism, the pollution and destruction of the environment, political and social repression, and violent colonialism.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, Europe had reached the peak of its imperial dominance of the world. Competition and nationalistic rivalry as well as manifold cooperation across boundaries were characteristic of the time. The outbreak of a general European war was therefore more likely than in previous decades but the various diplomatic crises had been manageable – and 1914 would have been avoidable if governments had not chosen to take great risks.

The book has received warm reviews in the press for its masterly survey of the period and its clear arguments. See for example Ernst Pipers review in Der Tagesspiegel.

For more information, see C.H. Beck with an extract on locating Europe in the nineteenth century (“Grenzen und Entgrenzen: Wie weit reicht Europa im 19. Jahrhundert”). 

Digital History Position at IEG – Coordinator for Developing a National Research Data Infrastructure

Infrastructure at the Leibniz Institute of European History

Zur Beantragung und Implementierung des NFDI4Memory-Konsortiums ist zum nächstmöglichen Zeitpunkt, frühestens ab 1. Oktober 2019, am Leibniz-Institut für Europäische Geschichte (IEG) in Mainz

eine Vollzeitstelle (TV-L EG 13) als
wissenschaftliche/r Koordinator/in (m/w/div)

zu besetzen. Die Stelle ist zunächst bis zum 30.06.2021 befristet. Eine Weiterbeschäftigung im Rahmen eines erfolgreich etablierten NFDI-Konsortiums wird angestrebt.

In der von Bund und Ländern geförderten Nationalen Forschungsdateninfrastruktur (NFDI) werden Datenbestände in einem aus der Wissenschaft getriebenen Prozess systematisch erschlossen, langfristig gesichert und über Disziplinen- und Ländergrenzen hinaus zugänglich gemacht. In diesem Rahmen soll mit NFDI4Memory ein Konsortium für die historisch arbeitenden Geisteswissenschaften aufgebaut werden, in dem Universitäten und außeruniversitären Institute, Archiven, Museen und Bibliotheken sowie Infrastruktur- und Forschungseinrichtungen zusammenwirken (vgl. http://bit.ly/NDFI4Memory_LoI).

Tätigkeitsprofil: Sie koordinieren die arbeitsteilige, überregional vernetzte Erstellung des Förderantrags für das NFDI4Memory-Konsortium (bis Oktober 2020) und bereiten dessen betriebsfähige Einrichtung vor (bis Juni 2021), unter anderem durch

  • Konzeption und Aufbau einer Governance-Struktur
  • Steuerung der konzeptionellen Arbeit und der Entscheidungsprozesse im Konsortium
  • Organisation von Videokonferenzen und Workshops
  • Redaktion des Förderantrags
  • Kommunikation mit Zuwendungsgebern/-innen und der wissenschaftlichen Community
  • Abstimmung mit den weiteren geistes- und kulturwissenschaftlichen NFDI-Initiativen in Deutschland.

Anforderungsprofil

  • abgeschlossenes wissenschaftliches Hochschulstudium
  • Erfahrung in der Beantragung von drittmittelgestützten Verbundprojekten
  • ausgesprägte organisatorische und kommunikative Fähigkeiten, nachgewiesen durch einschlägige Berufserfahrung im Projektmanagement
  • Kenntnisse der rechtlichen Rahmenbedingungen für Forschungsdaten
  • Vertrautheit mit geisteswissenschaftlichen Methoden und den Digital Humanities
  • sehr gute Englischkenntnisse.

Das IEG fördert die berufliche Gleichstellung von Frauen und Männern und setzt sich für die Vereinbarkeit von Beruf und Familie ein. Frauen werden besonders zur Bewerbung aufgefordert. Die Stelle ist grundsätzlich teilbar. Schwerbehinderte werden bei gleicher Eignung bevorzugt berücksichtigt. Fragen richten Sie bitte an den Forschungskoordinator des IEG, Dr. Joachim Berger (berger@ieg-mainz.de).

Ihre Bewerbung senden Sie bitte (mit CV, Zeugnissen und ggf. Arbeitsproben) unter Angabe der Kenn.-Nr. NFDI4Memory-2019 bis zum 15.09.2019 (keine Ausschlussfrist) per E-Mail an die Personalabteilung des Leibniz-Instituts für Europäische Geschichte (bewerbung@ieg-mainz.de); bitte fassen Sie alle Unterlagen in einem PDF zusammen.

Oxford – Mainz PhD Workshop 2020

Call for Papers: Joint Mainz-Oxford-Graduate Workshop: “European History across Boundaries from the Sixteenth to the Twentieth Century”

2019 PhD Workshop – Participants in the Oriel College Library, Oxford

Academy Conveners: Sarah Panter (Leibniz Institute of European History, Mainz), Johannes Paulmann (Leibniz Institute of European History, Mainz) and Lyndal Roper (University of Oxford)

Venue: Leibniz Institute of European History, Mainz

Date: 1–3 April 2020

Deadline for Applications: 15 October 2019

The Leibniz Institute of European History at Mainz, Germany, and the University of Oxford, Faculty of History, invite international Ph.D. students to a workshop on European history across boundaries from the 16th to the 20th century, including Europe’s relations with the world. We encourage researchers working in this field to present their Ph.D. projects and to discuss the transcultural and transnational scope of their findings in a stimulating environment. Topics that aim to cross and reflect boundaries and borders are of particular interest. Projects can employ a variety of methodical approaches such as comparative studies, the study of transfer processes and entanglements, or the histoire croisée. The location of the joint workshop alternates annually between Mainz and Oxford. In 2020, the workshop will take place in Mainz.

At the workshop, we will discuss pre-circulated papers based on archival research (max. 8,000 words, written in English, to be submitted by 1 March 2020). Accommodation for the duration of the workshop and a contribution to travel expenses within Europe will be provided.

Proposals should include an abstract of the overall project and its archival sources (500 words) plus a brief biographical note. Please combine all of your application documents into a single PDF except for the application form. You can download the application form here: http://bit.ly/GW_MainzOxford. Applications should be sent to gw@ieg-mainz.de by no later than 15 October 2019. For any questions, please contact the organisers.

Contact: Dr. Sarah Panter, Leibniz Institute of European History, Alte Universitätsstraße 19, D-55116 Mainz, Germany, +49 (0)6131 – 39 393 63, gw@ieg-mainz.de

Download call for papers here CFP_Doktorandenworkshop_2020_final

Richard von Weizsäcker Fellowship 2020-21, St Antony’s College, Oxford

The European Studies Centre of St Antony’s College, Oxford invites applications for the Richard von Weizsäcker Visiting Fellowship, funded by the Volkswagen Foundation. The fellowship is tenable for nine months (1 October-30 June).  Applicants should be scholars in the field of post-1850 history or the historical social sciences, and with an outstanding record of publication. They must be employed at a German university at the time of application.

The deadline for all applications is 15 June 2019.

Fellows will be expected to be resident at St Antony’s College for the nine months of the Oxford academic year (October-June); to conduct their research; to give the annual Richard von Weizsäcker lecture; to organize a conference or seminar series on a topic of their choice, bringing recent German scholarship to an English-speaking audience; and to edit an English-language volume of essays based on this.

WeizsäckerFullParticulars20-21

European History Across Boundaries: PhD Workshop Oxford – Mainz

From 13 – 15 March 2019, the graduate workshop “European History Across Boundaries” took place for the first time in Oxford. The event was jointly organised by the Faculty of History at Oxford University and the Leibniz Institute of European HistoryLeibniz Institute of European History at Mainz.

Outstanding young researchers from universities all over Europe, the USA and Israel discussed their research projects. Topics ranged from Early Modern to Contemporary History. Participants analysed a variety of European boundary crossings, including imperial and colonial, gender, disciplinary and religious borders. Geographically, the projects dealt with connections, for example, in Brazil during the Hispanic monarchy, port cities like Hamburg, Switzerland and the Dutch colonial empire, St. Peterburg and Paris, the Soviet Union and Congo, Germany and Afghanistan as well as Tirol and Tuscany. The projects illustrated the challenges as well as the benefits of researching history across boundaries. It was fascinating to learn that this kind of scholarship attracts and creates early career scholars who are in practical terms as cosmopolitan as the historical subjects they are studying. For full programm click here.

Visit to Oriel College library by partiticpants of PhD workshop European History Across Boundaries

Position in Jewish History

The Leibniz Institute of European History in Mainz, Germany seeks a new Research Fellow (Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter*in) for five years

Deadline: 15 October 2018

The successful candidate pursues an individual research project within the frame of the IEG research agenda “Negotiating differences in Modern Europe” . The innovative project contributes to one of the three research areas of the IEG (research program). The position is open to Early Modern and 19th or 20th century applications.

The Leibniz Institute of European History (IEG) in Mainz is an independent research institute and a member of the Leibniz Association. It conducts research on the political, social, cultural and religious foundations of Europe from the early modern period to contemporary history and has an international fellowship programme for PhD candidates (www.ieg-mainz.de/en).

Download announcement in English or German