Making Sense of Violence? Interdisciplinary Approaches to Violence: Past and Present

Haus der Universität
Joachim Eibach, Univ. Bern; Richard McMahon, NUI Maynooth
07.09.2011 - 10.09.2011
Joachim Eibach

Can we make sense of interpersonal violence? Seemingly rooted in multiple causes, spurred by an array of different motives and finding expression in myriad settings and forms, interpersonal violence has provoked considerable and, at times, intense debate over the last number of decades. This conference will explore, through a variety of different approaches, the extent, nature and characteristics of interpersonal violence in both historical and contemporary settings. Different theoretical approaches and assumptions underlying the study of interpersonal violence will also be examined. The contributors are expected to reflect upon and seek to make sense of interpersonal violence through specific studies of the function, meaning and place of violence in particular contexts. Investigations of the relationship between violence and other social and cultural phenomena as well as reflections on methods of understanding and conceptualising the role of interper-sonal violence in the past and the present are particularly encouraged.


Joachim Eibach (University of Bern)
Richard Mc Mahon (NUI, Maynooth)

Making Sense of Violence?
Interdisciplinary Approaches to Violence: Past and Present

University of Bern
September 7-10 2011
Haus der Universität
Schlösslistrasse 5, 3008 Bern

Wednesday, September 7
Arrival in Bern

Opening Lecture
Steven Pinker (Harvard University), The Decline of Violence and its Psychological Roots

Thursday, September 8
Welcome and Introduction to the Conference
Joachim Eibach (University of Bern)
Richard Mc Mahon (IRCHSS Postdoctoral fellow, NUI, Maynooth)

Session 1: Family Violence and Gender
Cecilia Cristellon (DHI Rome / University of Bern), The (Dis)order of Family Violence: Spaces, Limits, Strategies
Sonja Matter (University of Bern), Conjugal Violence in Switzerland in the early 1940s

Coffee break with Swiss Gipfeli

Session 2: Local and Collective Violence
Manon van der Heijden (Leiden University), Violence and Gender in Early Modern Neighbourhoods
Christoph Mauntel (University of Heidelberg), Medieval and Modern Interpretations of Violence in Late Medieval Revolts


Session 3: Elite Violence
John Cronin (EUI, Florence alumnus), Violence and Duelling between Exiled Courtiers: the Case of the Caroline Court in Exile, c.1649-c.1660
Barbara Krug-Richter (University of Münster), Early Modern Student Fights and Duels at German Universities

Coffee Break

Session 4: Violence, Discourse and Discipline
Maren Lorenz (University of Hamburg), Brawl, Duel or Scuffle? The Law and Conflict between the Military and Civilians, 1650-1700
Falk Bretschneider (EHESS Paris), Discipline and Violence in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Correction Houses

Break for Sandwiches

Evening lecture
Randolph Roth (Ohio State University), Quantitative Analysis of the History of Crime and Violence: Achievements and Prospects

19.30: Guided tour through town

Friday, September 9
Session 5a: Sources for the History of Interpersonal Violence
James Sharpe (University of York), The Coroner and Violent Death in Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century England
Olli Matikainen, (University of Jyväskylä), Violence and Moral Statistics Revisited: The Case of Finland in the Sixteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

Session 5b: Approaches to the History of Interpersonal Violence
John Carter Wood (University of Mainz / Open University), A Part of Us or Apart from Us? The Cultural, Social and Psychological Sense of Violence
Gerd Schwerhoff (University of Dresden), The History of Interpersonal Violence in a Cultural Perspective: From Phenomenology to Historical Change

Coffee Break with Swiss Gipfeli

Session 6a: Weapons and Words in Nineteenth-Century Europe
Dagmar Ellerbrock (Bielefeld University), “Slashing and Stabbing” – Weaponry and the Meaning of Violence, 1830–1900
Heinz-Gerhard Haupt (EUI, Florence), Menace Letters in Nineteenth-Century Paris

Session 6b: Interpersonal Violence and Modernity: Patterns and Practices
Peter King (University of Leicester), The Geography of Homicide in Nineteenth-Century Britain; Exploring and Explaining Spatial Patterns of Lethal Violence
Silvio Raciti / Maurice Cottier (University of Bern), Shifts in Interpersonal Violence in Swiss Cities, 1750-1930


Session 7a: Changing Faces of Youth Violence?
Joachim Eibach (University of Bern), Archaic Rituals in Modern Times? Historical Perspectives on Contemporary Youth Violence
Christof Dejung (University of Constance), Violent Youth Protest in Zurich during the 1980s

Session 7b: Terrorist and Fascist Movements in Modern Europe
Lutz Häfner (University of Göttingen), Terrorist Assaults in Autocratic Russia as a Means to Influence Public Opinion in “Civilized” Europe at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century
Sven Reichardt (University of Constance), Masculinity and Violence in Fascist Movements

Coffee Break

Session 8: Violence, Honour and Legal Cultures in North America
Matthew Ward (University of Dundee), A New Man? The Rise of Interpersonal Violence in the Trans-Appalachian West, 1732-1815
Joshua Stein (Yale University), The Masculinization of the Law: Selectivity in Antebellum Assault Prosecution and Gender
Richard Mc Mahon (NUI, Maynooth), Violence, Law and Migration: The Irish Experience in Late Nineteenth-Century San Francisco


19.30: Conference Dinner

Saturday, September 10
Session 9a: Land, Politics and Violence
Donnacha Sean Lucey, (IRCHSS Postdoctoral fellow, Trinity College Dublin), The Dynamics of Agrarian Violence in Late Nineteenth-Century Ireland
John Regan (University of Dundee), 'The Bandon Valley Massacre’ (Cork, Ireland, 1922) Revisited

Session 9b: Violence and Policing
Anja Johansen (University of Dundee), Police Violence and the “Civilising Process”: Systemic Challenges and Police Violence in Berlin, Paris and London from the Late Nineteenth Century
Jan Beek / Mirco Göpfert (University of Mainz), Violence as Normal Exception in West African Police Organizations

Coffee break with Swiss Gipfeli

Final Discussion
Joachim Eibach (University of Bern)
Richard Mc Mahon (NUI, Maynooth)

End of conference


Joachim Eibach

Histor. Institut
Länggassstr. 49
CH 3000 Bern 9

Making Sense of Violence? Interdisciplinary Approaches to Violence: Past and Present, 07.09.2011 – 10.09.2011 Bern, in: H-Soz-Kult, 31.08.2011, <>.
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