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Violence and Politics in the German Revolution 1918-19

Dates:
  • Fri 07 Oct 2011 10.00 - 13.00
  Add to Calendar 2011-10-07 10:00 2011-10-07 13:00 Europe/Paris Violence and Politics in the German Revolution 1918-19

This dissertation explores the history of the German Revolution of 1918-19 through the prism
of violence. It is based upon extensive research which draws upon the contents of military
and judicial archives, diaries, and newspapers. The study is organized chronologically.
However it is led by five key concepts: cultural mobilization; the ‘thick description’ of
violence; the representation and behaviour of crowds; rumours; autosuggestion and fear.
Together, this conceptually led narrative history seeks to explain the transformation of the
intensity and forms of violence over the course of a short seven month period of German
history: November 1918 to May 1919. Its focus is upon Berlin and Munich.

It argues that the study of violence must always turn to the history of mentalities. Thus,
having explored the violence of November through an exploration of the revolution’s gunfire,
the second and third chapter analyse the transformation of the imagination and fear of
violence in the eight weeks which followed the abdication of the Kaiser and subsequent
armistice. The dissertation contends that highly threatening and contagious subjective fears
were the product of how fears of local violence interacted with the transnational
reconfiguration of the political imagination unleashed by the war.

The third part of the dissertation explores the consequences of this transformation. It is the first work of its kind to approach violent atrocities in the German Revolution through the paradigm of thick description. The dissertation’s use of press sources is also unique: up to now the political history of the revolution has largely been organized around a top-down perspective. By recapturing politics as a series of communicative processes, this study reconfigures our understanding of the history of post-war German politics. As it does so, it increases historian’s understanding of the course of the German Revolution 1918/19, the foundation of the Weimar Republic, and the human capacity for violent extremes.

Cappella, Villa Schifanoia - SCHIFANOIA DD/MM/YYYY
  Cappella, Villa Schifanoia - SCHIFANOIA

This dissertation explores the history of the German Revolution of 1918-19 through the prism
of violence. It is based upon extensive research which draws upon the contents of military
and judicial archives, diaries, and newspapers. The study is organized chronologically.
However it is led by five key concepts: cultural mobilization; the ‘thick description’ of
violence; the representation and behaviour of crowds; rumours; autosuggestion and fear.
Together, this conceptually led narrative history seeks to explain the transformation of the
intensity and forms of violence over the course of a short seven month period of German
history: November 1918 to May 1919. Its focus is upon Berlin and Munich.

It argues that the study of violence must always turn to the history of mentalities. Thus,
having explored the violence of November through an exploration of the revolution’s gunfire,
the second and third chapter analyse the transformation of the imagination and fear of
violence in the eight weeks which followed the abdication of the Kaiser and subsequent
armistice. The dissertation contends that highly threatening and contagious subjective fears
were the product of how fears of local violence interacted with the transnational
reconfiguration of the political imagination unleashed by the war.

The third part of the dissertation explores the consequences of this transformation. It is the first work of its kind to approach violent atrocities in the German Revolution through the paradigm of thick description. The dissertation’s use of press sources is also unique: up to now the political history of the revolution has largely been organized around a top-down perspective. By recapturing politics as a series of communicative processes, this study reconfigures our understanding of the history of post-war German politics. As it does so, it increases historian’s understanding of the course of the German Revolution 1918/19, the foundation of the Weimar Republic, and the human capacity for violent extremes.


Location:
Cappella, Villa Schifanoia - SCHIFANOIA

Affiliation:
Department of History and Civilization

Type:
Thesis defence

Contact:
Francesca Parenti - Send a mail

Supervisor:
Prof. Heinz-Gerhard Haupt

Defendant:
Mark Jones

Examiner:
Prof. Dirk Moses
Prof. Richard Evans (University of Cambridge)
Prof. Robert Gerwarth (University College Dublin)
 

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