New Perspectives of Social and Cultural History

New Perspectives of Social and Cultural History

Free University Berlin; Malmö University
Vom - Bis
06.10.2016 - 07.10.2016
Anders Sevelsted, Department of Business and Politics, Copenhagen Business School

ARND BAUERKÄMPER (Berlin) opened the workshop by describing how a synthesis between cultural and social history seems to be emerging. The purpose of the workshop was to examine whether the two fields have indeed merged or if differences in approaches, methods, and theories still exist. A further aim of the workshop was to facilitate interaction between Swedish and German perspectives. STEFAN NYZELL (Malmö) in his introduction pointed out that Malmö is a young and interdisciplinary university, meaning that it is often forgotten that there ever was a conflict between the two fields.

The first panel addressed the theme of ‘Religion and Religiosity’. Examining how Muslims have been depicted publicly in Sweden from the 1970s until today, JOHAN CATO (Malmö) argued that politicians have sought to construct an ‘acceptable’ image of Muslims. While political discourse in the 1970s was dominated by an ethnocentric view, where Muslims were expected to eventually realize the superiority of Swedish culture, this changed during the 1980s and 1990s. Due to debates on religious slaughter, Arabic schools, and the education of Imams, there are now four competing discourses on ‘acceptable’ Islam, each problematizing various aspects of Islam: First, integration, revolving around religious slaughter, schools, and values; second, equality, stressing the lack of gender equality in Islam; third, security, connecting Islam with Islamism, antisemitism, national security, and fourth, homogenization, where Islam is reduced to the Arabian tradition, and the Muslim ‘Ummah’ is seen as a threat to Sweden. RICKARD EINEGARD (Malmö) presented his research on the introduction of Chiropractic into the field of Medicine in Sweden from the 1920s and onwards. Drawing on humanistic health research, ‘medical history from below’ and Science and Technology Studies the medical system was presented as a belief system, and the introduction of Chiropractic into this field as a battle over science and legitimacy between established and outsiders. Initially, Chiropractic entailed a belief in an intelligent life force that could cure nearly everything. It was, however, perceived as a danger by the medical establishment. In course of the struggle for legitimacy, the spiritual elements were lost, rendering the officially recognized version of Chiropractic mainly a method to fix very specific conditions in especially the neck. Einegard in this way showed how disciplines struggle to demarcate, mobilize and organize the field of medicine. CHRISTIAAN ENGBERTS (Leiden) gave a talk on mutual academic evaluation before peer review. In the 19th century, a variety of evaluative practices existed. Engberts focused on private evaluations in letters and especially on the bad example of the great Heinrich Ewald (1803–1875), a theologian at the University of Göttingen known as the ‘Buddha of Göttingen’. He had strong academic, political, and religious opinions that his colleagues often complained about. These colleagues, such as Nöldeke, Fleischer, and Leipzig, supported each other by gossiping about Ewald. Ewald eventually becomes an ‘ideal type’ of the bad scholar. Through this private and particular way of evaluation, scholars informally described what they expected from other scholars. Sometimes positive: Love of truth etc., but sometimes through bad examples, such as Ewald, where the virtue of modesty was inherent in the critique of his arrogance, egotism, pretentiousness etc.

The second panel was on 'Social Conflicts and Cultural Practices’. Here, MATS GREIFF (Malmö) opened the session with a talk on Popular Music and Social Change in the Appalachian Region, 1890–1930. Greiff here showed how the change in the sphere of production from small self-sustained households living off commons to capitalist mining industry, as well as a change towards mass production in the music industry, had severe consequences for gender roles expressed in music. In traditional folk music there had been a clear division of labor: Women sang, while men played the instruments. Since women sang, songs reflected women’s desires and wishes of independence, e.g. through warnings of early marriage. The double move toward capitalist production in mining and the music industry changed gender roles. A type of masculinity previously based on ideals of production and independence was now threatened. Miners were paid in ‘scrips’ that could only be used to buy goods in the mining company’s stores, leaving them unable to live up to masculine ideals by providing even small luxury items for their spouses. At the same time, record companies saw a market among poor workers in ‘hillbilly music’. The cowboy myth became a new masculine ideal of the agrarian population, while this ideal could not be upheld in the economic and social sphere. Women’s role in music also changed. Traditionally, song was the woman’s domain, but this was restricted to the private sphere. With the change to mass production in music, men picked up the microphone as well. The feminist element of the earlier pre-country music was thus eradicated. Presenting her comparative work on prolonged strikes, so called ‘wildcats’, in 1970s and 1980s Sweden, NELLI TÜGEL (Berlin) focused on the great mining strike of 1969/70 that lasted two months and was significant since it marked a shift from protests over wages to protests over working conditions and man-machine relations. The great mining strike was inspired by the 1968 movement and was the first sign of a crisis of Fordist corporatism. Originally a protest against standardization of work flow, the strike was rather small, but created a lot of sympathy and was widely supported, evidenced in many small monetary contributions. The slogan “We are humans, not machines” contrasted ‘the dignity of labor’ to the Fordist mode of production. ANNA DELIUS (Berlin) presented under the heading of the ‘vernacularization of universal rights’ the appropriation and application of human rights by the illegal workers’ commissions that arose in Spain during the 1960s and 1970s. While Spain was not part of the ‘breakthrough of human rights’ in the 1970s, universal rights language was applied by these commissions in order to address an international audience. Spanish resistance leaders used rhetorical strategies of temporality to point to the backwardness of Spain to outside observers, and used the language of human rights to support the claim of belonging to the Western European cultural sphere – in contrast to Franco’s claim of a Spanish ‘Sonderweg’. On the backdrop of rising rents in Berlin as in other large cities around the world, TOBIAS BERNET (Berlin) identified a paradigm shift in urban renewal from the centrally planned ‘clear cut renewal’ large scale projects of the 1950s to the ‘cautious renewal’ approach in the 1980s Berlin. The critique of the former approach was first launched in academic circles, but made its way into the circles of urban planners in the 1970s. The old way of planning had led to many vacancies, causing squatting in especially Kreuzberg in West Berlin. The authorities deployed a carrot and stick strategy that eventually led to a program that subsidized the squatter movement’s ‘self-help renovation’ initiatives. While the acceptance of government money was controversial, the initiative was embraced by large portions of the squatters, giving birth to the new cooperative movement of the 1980s. This new strategy by the state was continued in the east after the unification. Cooperative ownership has managed to keep rents low, as can be witnessed in certain areas like Block 103 in Berlin.

The third panel was given the broad label ‘Identities’. JOAKIM GLASER (Malmö) opened with a contemporary perspective on how narratives are constructed around Ostfußball, shaping and reflecting especially male identities and attitudes towards unified Germany. This is done through chants and songs in the stands in clubs like Union Berlin and BFC Dynamo, through flags and banners with words such as ‘DDR’ and ‘Ostalgie’, as well as through t-shirts with references to Germany’s violent past: the Nazi and the Stasi regime. These practices represent a kind of ‘situated identification’ with Eastern Germany that plays on stereotypes, prejudices, and the non-recognition that was expressed in the distribution of clubs in the Erste Liga; an identification that allows for an ambiguous expression of a pride of belonging. These identities should not be interpreted as a manifest support to the GDR, but as an expression of the double experience of unification in both football and society. MARIA HETZER (Siegen) focused on methodological challenges in her research on the every-day experiences and self-realization of women in the small town of Golzow on the Polish/German border that worked as a modern socialist production village in the GDR in an area known as Berlin’s vegetable garden. The challenges consisted in escaping the dichotomy of totalitarianism/niche existence and instead focus on ‘room of manouvre’ and ‘Eigensinn’, and further in avoiding the notion of ‘caesura’ in order to look at continuities instead. Not unlike Maria Hetzer, MAGNUS BERGMAN (Malmö) also stressed continuity in his research on the modern Swedish nobility. In contrast to traditional narratives on the transition from the ‘old regime’ to modernity, Bergman underlined that the nobility was not simply defeated and left to wither away with the Swedish constitution of 1866. While the nobility did lose its last societal function after 1866 as part of the parliament of the four estates, it did not disappear. Through a study of Riddarhuset, the ‘interest organization’ of the Swedish nobility, established in 1866, Bergman seeks to show how the nobility developed a new identity as ‘guardians of heritage’, using history in a new way to legitimize themselves, for instance by erecting statues and being active in various cultural settings.

The fourth and final panel on ‘Memory and Museum’ was opened by Arndt Bauerkämper, who proposed that in order to achieve reconciliation with neighbors after WW2, Germany had to create a multilateral framework. Unlike the GDR, the FRG understood itself as a successor state of the earlier German state and thus entered into bilateral negotiations over restitution regarding material and psychological damage in the 1950s and 1960s. Chancellor Willy Brandt’s ‘knee fall’ at the Warsaw Ghetto on December 7, 1970 became the symbol of Germany’s acceptance of guilt and the start of the new phase of more comprehensive reconciliation. Only after the end of the cold war, however, did the negative common memory of the Holocaust and the terror of the war bring European reconciliation about. The talk ended with a question: Can this model of reconciliation be applied in other conflicts, e.g. in East Asia? In Bauerkämper’s opinion, it cannot, since the constellation in e.g. the Japanese-Chinese conflict is very different. The road to reconciliation in Europe cannot be transferred directly, since it was all but unilinear. IRENE ANDERSSON (Malmö) focused in her presentation on the so called ‘Women’s House’ at the Baltic Exhibition in Malmö 1914 with the aim of putting it into an international context. The house was meant to educate the public on the historical contributions of women and on contemporary issues such as suffrage. The house was modelled after a similar house at an exhibition in Amsterdam the year before and was part of a transnational movement of exhibiting such houses. STEFAN NYZELL (Malmö) provided a glimpse into the first steps of his project on ‘public history’ outside professional historical circles, specifically on how medieval times are represented creatively and fantastically in groups such as the Historical European Martial Arts that recreates medieval martial arts fighting. Nyzell identified a continuum in this public use of history from the authentic to the fantastic; from those that want to recreate an authentic history and those that want to recreate history as it ‘should have been’. These groups should be taken seriously by historians, he urged.

Bauerkämper ended the workshop by identifying a convergence between social and cultural history. Even if there are still differences, there is much interaction and exchange. National traditions may still matter in terms of topics and perspectives, but rather little. The nation state is still important in terms of choice of topics, but personal experiences and political opinions matter as well.

Conference Overview:

Welcoming address

Arnd Bauerkämper (Free University, Berlin) / Stefan Nyzell (University of Malmö)

Panel I: Religion and Religiosity

Johan Cato (University of Malmö): The Swedish Political Construction of Islam and Muslims: Creating the Right Forms of Religious Adherence and Religiosity

Rickard Einegard (University of Malmö): In the Borderlands between Medicine and Healing. Chiropractors in Sweden from the early 1920s onwards

Christiaan Engberts (Leiden University): The bad example of the ‘Buddha of Göttingen’: Evaluative practices in 19th century oriental studies.

Panel II: Social Conflicts and Cultural Practices

Mats Greiff (University of Malmö): Popular Music and Social Change in the Appalachian Region, 1890-1930

Nelli Tügel (Free University Berlin): “We are humans, no machines” – Stora Gruvstrejken in Northern Sweden 1969/70, the Construction of Labour and Democracy and the Crisis of Fordism in Sweden

Anna Delius (Free University Berlin): Vernacularizing Universal Rights – Spanish Workers’ Movement, Strike Actions and the “Transición” (1975-1978)

Tobias Bernet (Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin): Squatting, Self-Help Renovation, and Public Funding: The Politics of ”Cautious Urban Renewal“ in (West-) Germany in the 1980s and 1990s

Panel III: Identities

Joakim Glaser (University of Malmö): Ostfussball and Identity Formation in Unified Germany

Maria Hetzer (Siegen University): Bodies and Landscapes of Change

Magnus Bergman (University of Malmö): A Nobility for the Ages. The Creation of a Modern Swedish Nobility, 1866-1950

Panel IV: Memory and Museum

Arnd Bauerkämper (Free University Berlin): National Remembrances and the Emergence of a European Memorial Culture. The Twisted Road to Reconciliation between the Germans and their Neighbours after the Second World War

Irene Andersson (University of Malmö): Women’s House, a Suffrage Manifestation at the Baltic Exhibition in Malmö 1914 – Inspired by an Exhibition in Amsterdam 1913

Stefan Nyzell (University of Malmö): Violently Medieval: On the Authentic and the Fantastic in Re-Created Medieval Temporalities

Conclusion notes

Arndt Bauerkämper / Mats Greiff / Joakim Glaser