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Fall 2020

 

Because of the Covid-19-pandemic, we will hold the NCGS Seminars at least for the fall 2020 online and organize them via Zoom.

Our NCGS organizers MAX H. LAZAR ( maxlazar@live.unc.edu) and MICHAEL SKALSKI (mskalski@live.unc.eduwill take care of the technology of the Zoom Seminars.

For our NCGS Online Seminar Etiquette click here.

 

 

Friday, 25 September 2020

UNC Chapel Hill   I  4:00 – 5:00 pm   I  Online Seminar

 

A. DIRK MOSES  I  Frank Porter Graham Distinguished Professor of Global Human Rights History, UNC—Chapel Hill, Department of History

The Problems of Genocide: Permanent Security and the Language of Transgression

 

This presentation summarizes some main results of Moses’s forthcoming book The Problems of Genocide: Permanent Security and the Language of Transgression, which argues that genocide is not only a problem of mass death, but also of how it organizes and distorts thinking about civilian destruction. Taking the normative perspective of civilian immunity from military attack, it argues that the implicit hierarchy of international criminal law, atop which sits genocide as the “crime of crimes,” blinds us to other types of humanly caused civilian death, like bombing cities, and the “collateral damage” of missile and drone strikes. Talk of genocide, then, can function ideologically to detract from systematic violence against civilians perpetrated by governments of all types. The book contends that this violence is the consequence of “permanent security” imperatives: the striving of states, and armed groups seeking to found states, to make themselves invulnerable to threats.

A. DIRK MOSES is the recently appointed Frank Porter Graham Distinguished Professor of Global Human Rights History at the UNC Chapel Hill, Department of History. Before coming to Chapel Hill, Moses taught at the University of Sydney for twenty years and was Professor of Global and Colonial History at the European University Institute in Florence. His first monograph, German Intellectuals and the Nazi Past was published in 2007 and his second monograph, entitled The Problems of Genocide: Permanent Security and the Language of Transgression, will arrive in  2021.

 

Comment: KONRAD H. JARAUSCH  I  UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History

Moderation:  KAREN HAGEMANN  I  UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History

Co-Conveners: Duke University, Department of History, and UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History,  Center for European Studies, and  Carolina Center for Jewish Studies.

 

Friday, 9 October 2020

UNC Chapel Hill   4:00 – 5:00 pm   I  Online Seminar

 

BILL SHARMANN   I  Graduate Student, Duke University, Department of History

Third-World Refugees, Rights, and West Germany in the 1970s and 1980s

 

During the 1970s and 80s, thousands of refugees from Africa, the Middle East, and Asia began seeking asylum in West Germany each year. Banned from working and often forced to live in camps, these so-called “Third-World” refugees became objects of police surveillance, social-scientific knowledge, and humanitarian intervention. While scholars have examined how the West German media, state, and society responded to refugee “crises,” this talk uses archival sources, documentary films, poetry, and oral histories to illuminate the intellectual and social worlds of refugees themselves. Far from being passive victims in need of “help,” many non-European refugees developed critiques of racism and bureaucracy, forged friendships and political alliances, and demanded justice through activism. Their assertions helped recast immigration as a matter of rights—not merely of contract labor or compassion—and altered perceptions about West Germany’s place in the post-1945 world.

BILL SHARMAN is doctoral candidate at Duke University, where he studies modern European, African, and global history. He is working on a dissertation called “Moral Politics: Global Humanitarianism, the Third World, and West Germany.”

Moderation: JAMES CHAPPEL I  Duke University, Department of History

Co-Conveners: Duke University, Department of History, and the UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History

 

Friday, 23 October 2020

UNC Chapel Hill  I  4:00 – 5:00 pm   I  Online Seminar

 

HELMUT PUFF  I  Elizabeth L. Eisenstein Collegiate Professor of History and Germanic Languages, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)

The Time of the Antechamber: A History of Waiting,1500–1800

 

While exploring the epistemological difficulties in studying time, the philosopher Henri Bergson cautioned his readers in 1888 that, “We necessarily express ourselves by means of words and we usually think in terms of space.” This observation notwithstanding, recent years have seen an unprecedented spate of studies on temporalities in history, anthropology, sociology, and related disciplines. Evidently, time as a category has never been absent from historical studies. Still, what distinguishes recent studies from previous scholarship? How does time in its different registers and rhythms structure societies? How do temporal modes structure politics, cultures, societies, and social interactions? This talk will seek to survey the historiography on times, temporalities, and temporizations with a particular eye to the history of waiting as a socially mandated and politically meaningful temporal mode in social interactions. 

HELMUT PUFF is the Elizabeth L. Eisenstein Collegiate Professor of History and Germanic Languages, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His teaching and research focus on German literature, history, and culture in the medieval and early modern periods. His most recent books are the monograph Miniature Monuments: Modeling German History (2014), and the edited volume After the History of Sexuality: German Genealogies with and Beyond Foucault (2012). Recently, he has started a new project on waiting as a mode of experienced temporality between the Middle Ages and the twentieth century.   

Comment: JAKOB NORBERG  I  Duke University, Department of German Studies

Moderation: TERENCE V. MCINTOSH  I  UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History

Co-Conveners: Duke University, Department of German Studies, and UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History and Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures

 

 

Friday, 13 November 2020

UNC Chapel Hill   I  2:00 – 3:30  pm  I Online Seminar

 

LORRAINE DASTON  I  Director Emerita, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin and Professor, Committee on Social Thought, University of Chicago

Nineteenth Century Science Goes Global

 

During the latter half of the 19th century, international scientific collaborations of unprecedented scale, expense, and degree of organization were initiated in both the human and natural sciences. This is also the moment when the first international scientific congresses were organized and European colonial powers extended their transportation and communication networks as well as their political and economic domination to large parts of the globe, both essential preconditions for the international scientific co-operations. Despite two devastating World Wars and innumerable regional conflicts, the model of international governance of science has largely survived and indeed expanded. The contrast with the failure of other projects of international governance is striking, especially since science and scholarship remain fiercely competitive and are largely financed at the national level. How did scientific international governance emerge and remain relatively durable, despite the shocks of war, national rivalries, and scientific polemics?

LORRAINE DASTON is Director Emerita at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin and regular Visiting Professor in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. She has published widely on topics in the history of early modern and modern science, including probability and statistics, wonders, objectivity, observation, and scientific archives. Her most recent books include: Histories of scientific observation (with Elizabeth Lunbeck, 2011); and  Against Nature (2019).

Moderation: KAREN HAGEMANN (UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History)

Co-Conveners: Duke University, Department of History and Department of German Studies, and UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History

 

 

Friday, 20 November 2020

UNC Chapel Hill   I  2:00 – 4:00  pm  I Online Seminar

 

New NCGS Series “CHALLENGING CONVERSATIONS”:

Post-Colonialism, Antisemitism, and the Holocaust: The Achille Mbembe Case in Germany

 

This spring has witnessed heated debate in Germany about the campaign to disinvite Achille Mbembe, the South African-based Cameroonian theorist, as the keynote speaker at a music festival. In late March, some politicians and critics accused Mbembe of relativizing the Holocaust, trading in anti-Israel antisemitism for linking Israel to colonialism and Apartheid, and for supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). In response, German and foreign academics signed public letters supporting Mbembe, who addressed his critics as well. Many of the contentious issues are familiar, but this time the debate extends beyond the self-referential European Cold War coordinates of the old Historikerstreit. For not only does Mbembe introduce a voice from Africa, Germany is also wrestling with its colonial past. Whereas Holocaust memory has been intended to promote political liberalization, now it seems that Holocaust memory, at least as currently mobilized, is wielded against other historical victims of the German state. We ask: what does “relativizing the Holocaust” mean today? How does this debate relate to the global moment of anti-racism and coming to terms with colonial pasts? Why does a postcolonial understanding of Zionism lead to accusations of antisemitism in Germany? In this session, we pose these and other questions raised by the Mbembe debate.

 

Roundtable:

A. DIRK MOSES is the recently appointed Frank Porter Graham Distinguished Professor of Global Human Rights History at the UNC Chapel Hill, Department of History. Before coming to Chapel Hill, Moses taught at the University of Sydney for twenty years and was Professor of Global and Colonial History at the European University Institute in Florence. His first monograph, German Intellectuals and the Nazi Past was published in 2007 and his second monograph, entitled The Problems of Genocide: Permanent Security and the Language of Transgression, will arrive in  2021.

JOSEPH BEN PRESTEL is Assistant Professor (wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter) of History at the Freie Universität Berlin. He is the author of Emotional Cities: Debates on Urban Change in Berlin and Cairo, 1860-1910 (2017) and is currently working on a book about the connections between Palestinians and the radical left in West Germany from the 1950s to the 1980s.

  • PRISCILLA LAYNE  (UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages & Literatures)

PRISCILLA LAYNEis Associate Professor of German and Adjunct Associate Professor of African, African American and Diaspora Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research and teaching draws on postcolonial studies, gender studies and critical race theory to address topics like representations of blackness in literature and film, rebellion, and the concept of the Other in science fiction/fantasy. She is author of White Rebels in Black: German Appropriation of African American Culture and her current book project is on Afro-German Afrofuturism.

Moderation: KAREN HAGEMANN (UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History) 

For more information: on the debate, see:

Co-Convener: UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History

 

Friday, 4 December 2020

UNC Chapel Hill   I  4:00 – 5:30  pm  I Online Seminar

 

THOMAS PRENDERGAST  I  Graduate Student, Duke University , Department of History

The Sociology of Empire: German and Habsburg Theories of Multinational Statehood, 1848-1914

 

Over the past twenty years, historians have dramatically reevaluated the Habsburg Monarchy. Whereas scholars once characterized the Monarchy as a “prison of nations,” they now emphasize the effectiveness of its institutions and its subjects’ loyalty to the dynasty and indifference to nationalist propaganda. And yet, despite its stability and “modernity,” Habsburg Austria came to be categorized in the decades before World War I as an “empire,” an archaic polity fundamentally different from Western European “nation-states.” This lecture will examine how and why Central European jurists attempted to define the Habsburg Monarchy as an “empire” and the Habsburg effort to undermine this definition through a new and globally influential sociological critique of the state. I will show that German nationalist legal scholars used “empire” to distinguish the Monarchy from other similarly composite European states and that Austrian sociologists recognized the analytical inadequacy of this category more than a century before the “imperial turn.”

THOMAS R. PRENDERGAST is a PhD Candidate in History at Duke University. His research explores the intellectual history of modern East Central Europe from a global and Jewish perspective, specifically the formative role this region played in shaping concepts of imperialism, federalism, internationalism, and decolonization.

Moderation: CHAD BRYANT  I  UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History

Co-Conveners: Duke University, Department of History, and UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History, and and Center for Slavic, Eurasian, and East European Studies

 

Spring 2021

 

We hope that we can return  to the usual seminars in the spring 2021 and will evaluate the situation in December 2020.

 

Friday, 22 January 2021

UNC Chapel Hill, Fedex Building, Room 4003  I  4:00 – 5:30 pm

 Konrad H.  Jarausch Essay Prize Winner for Advanced Graduate Students in 2020

PETER B. THOMPSON  I  University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Department of History

Masters or Victims of the Chemical World?: The Question of Complicity in a Chemically-Minded Third Reich

 

The presentation will examine the ways in which the gas mask served as a technological site of discipline, conformity, and complicity in the envisioned air and gas protection community of the Third Reich. Throughout the 1930s, the Nazis used the gas mask as a material tool in the creation of a compliant and chemically-minded German subject. With masks donned, German civilians now appeared as technologically augmented soldiers in the Nazis’ envisioned struggle for national survival. Indeed, in the eyes of the Nazis, the mask created a physically homogenized society that could survive, if not thrive, in a modernity defined by its toxic environment. Exploring the role of gas mask technology in the creation of a national community predicated on violent exclusions and bodily discipline, this presentation will argue that the average German civilian under the gas mask maintained a complex subjectivity that regularly shifted between perpetrator, bystander, and victim of the Nazi regime.

PETER B. THOMPSON is a PhD graduate in the History Department at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. His broad research interests lie at the intersection of German cultural history and the history of science and technology at the turn of the twentieth century.

Welcome: LISA LINDSAY (Chair, UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History)

Introduction of the Prize Winner:  JAMES CHAPPEL  I  Duke University, Department of History

Moderation: KAREN HAGEMANN  UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History

Co-Conveners: Duke University, Department of History, and UNC-Chapel Hill History, Department of History, and Center for European Studies

 

 

Friday, 22 January 2021

UNC Chapel Hill, Fedex Building, Room 4003  I  12:00 – 2:00 pm

Graduate Writing Seminar

with PETER B. THOMPSON  I University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign, Department of History

Discussion of “The Pale Death: Poison Gas and German Racial Exceptionalism, 1915-1945”

 

In the second year of Wolf War I, the German-Jewish chemist Fritz Haber supervised the first deployment of industrialized chemical weapons against French colonial troops. The uncertain nature of the attack, both in its execution and outcome, led many German military men to question the controllability of poison gas. Over the next three decades, Germans would continue this line of inquiry, as aero-chemical attacks appeared increasingly imminent. This article narrates the German search for control over chemical weapons between the World Wars, revealing the ways in which interwar techno-nationalists tied the mastery of poison gas to ethno-racial definitions of German-ness. Under the Nazis, leaders in civilian aero-chemical defense picked up this interwar thread and promoted a dangerous embrace of gas that would supposedly cull the technically superior Germans from other lesser races. While this vision of a chemically saturated world did not suffuse German society, such logic did play out in the gas chambers of the Holocaust

Comments:  JAMES CHAPPEL (Duke University, Department of History) and KONRAD H. JARAUSCH (UNC—Chapel Hill, Department of History)

Moderation:  MAX H. LAZAR (UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History) and MICHAEL SKALSKI (UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History)

The paper will be distributed to the participants before the workshop. Please contact the organizers of the event.

Co-Conveners: Duke University, Department of History, and UNC-Chapel Hill History, Department of History and the  Center for European Studies

 

Friday, 26 February 2021

UNC Chapel Hill, Hamilton Hall, Room 569  I  4:00 – 5:30 pm

 

MICHAEL SKALSKI  I  Graduate Student, UNC—Chapel Hill, Department of History

FDJ-ler Make New Friends: International Youth Exchanges in the Eastern Bloc, 1972-1989

 

In the spirit of communist internationalism, Eastern Bloc regimes provided ample opportunities for children, teenagers, and students to travel and become acquainted with their peers from other peoples’ democracies. Not only were the exchanges a popular vacation alternative for young people, they also served the purpose of strengthening Bloc cohesion and adherence to socialist values. Thousands of East German youth came into contact with their Polish, Czech, and Soviet peers annually, making lasting friendships, exchanging experiences, and falling into conflict over cultural differences. This presentation explores the quality and outcomes of these interactions, the role of political ideology and nationality in shaping the outlooks of the next generation of socialist citizens to argue that the state-sponsored programs returned the children as “better” Germans (or Poles or Czechs) rather than better communists.

 

MICHAEL SKALSKI is a PhD graduate in the History Department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His dissertation, “A Socialist Neighborhood: Cross-Border Exchanges between Poland, East Germany, and Czechoslovakia, 1969-1989,” explores successes and failures of internationalism and integration in the Eastern Bloc.

Moderation: ANDREA SINN (Elon University, Department of History and Geography)

Co-Conveners: UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History, and Center for Slavic, Eurasian, and East European Studies

 

 

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

UNC Chapel Hill, Fedex Global Education Center, Room 003   I  5:00 – 7:00 pm

 

New NCGS Series “CHALLENGING CONVERSATIONS” :

STEFANIE SCHÜLER-SPRINGORUM  I  Director of and Professor at the Zentrum für Antisemitismusforschung of the TU Berlin

On Numbers and Feelings: Antisemitism in Germany Today

 

Antisemitism seems to be on the rise, in Germany and elsewhere. However, the scope of this rise, its reason, its agents and last but not least its meaning, as well as the political consequences to be drawn from it, are fiercefully debated. In my paper, I will discuss the various ways of assessing antisemitism in Germany today: Survey and Polls, historical and sociological qualitative research, statistics by police and civil society organizations as well as the media covering of important events. I will put special attention to the pitfalls of each approach and to the problems of the media discourse. Finally, I will discuss the results of this overview against the backdrop of rising populism, racism and other forms of resentment in Germany, Europe and worldwide. 

STEFANIE SCHÜLER-SPRINGORUM, is the Director of the Center for Research on Antisemitism and Co- Director of the Selma-Stern-Center for Jewish Studies, both in in Berlin, and, since 2020, is the Director of the Berlin branch of the Center for Research on Social Cohesion. Her main fields of research are Jewish, German, and Spanish History. Recent publications include Four Years After: Antisemitism and Racism in Trump’s America (edited with N. and M. Zadoff, H. Paul, 2020); The Challenge of Ambivalence: Antisemitism in Germany Today (2018); Perspektiven deutsch-jüdischer Geschichte: Geschlecht und Differenz (2014).

Opening Remarks: RUTH BERNUTH (Dircector, Carolina Center for Jewish Studies, UNC Chapel Hill)

Comment: THOMAS PEGELOW-KAPLAN  I  Appalachian State University, Department of History

Moderation: ANDREA SINN  I   Elon University, Department of History and Geography

Co-Conveners: UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History, Carolina Center for Jewish Studies and Center for European Studies, and Appalachian State University, Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies


 

 

Thursday, April 9, 2021

UNC Chapel Hill, HM 569  I  4:00 – 5:30 pm

HEATHER R. PERRY  I  Associate Professor, UNC—Charlotte, Department of History

Feeding War: Nutrition, Health, and National Belonging in Germany, 1914-1924

Moderation: KONRAD H. JARAUSCH   I  UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History

Co-Convener: UNC-Chapel Hill, Peace, War and Defense Curriculum