Contemporary European History 23 (2014), 4

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Contemporary European History 23 (2014), 4
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Special Issue: Emotions in Protest Movements in Europe since 1917

Published: February, May, August and November
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Contemporary European History
United Kingdom
Mielbrandt, Björn




Contemporary European History , Volume 23 , Special Issue 04 – Emotions in Protest Movements in Europe since 1917 , November 2014, pp 489 – 503
doi: 10.1017/S0960777314000289 – Published Online on 02nd October 2014
It might seem trivial and mere common sense to note that revolts and revolutions are deeply emotional moments. In history books and newspapers, we read about the tense and emotionally charged atmosphere that leads to violence when protestors confront police forces, or about furious and passionate crowds acting in defiance of the ideal of rational and coldblooded politics. But rage and anger are not the only emotions involved in the politics of protest. Consider the iconic photographs of the summer strikes during the French Popular Front in 1936, depicting smiling workers occupying their factories and construction sites, or the cheering crowds storming the Berlin Wall in November 1989. Or consider the genre of protest songs, telling stories of solidarity and hope as well as deep sorrow. At times, social and political movements even made feelings their central concern, such as the hippy movement with its calls for free love. On the other side of the political spectrum, conservative as well as social democratic observers often denounced protests and riots as politically irrelevant outbreaks of hatred, or mocked the ‘hysterical’ fear of the peace movement during the 1980s. Somehow, these examples suggest, feelings mattered, yet how precisely they mattered is rarely investigated. The essays in this special issue will address this question in order to enrich our understanding of protest movements, revolts and revolutions. Collectively, they intend to open a theoretical and methodological debate on the role of emotions in the politics of protest and resistance.


Affective Neuroscience and the Causes of the Mutiny of the French 82nd Infantry Brigade
Contemporary European History , Volume 23 , Special Issue 04 – Emotions in Protest Movements in Europe since 1917 , November 2014, pp 505 – 522
doi: 10.1017/S0960777314000290 – Published Online on 02nd October 2014
This article seeks to demonstrate how some elements of affective neuroscience and basic emotions theory can be used to inform historical reasoning. It begins with an overview of contemporary basic emotions theory. It then provides a case study of the mutiny of the French 82nd Infantry Brigade, which took place on 1–2 June 1917, interpreting the events of the mutiny in the light of some tenets of basic emotions theory. It focuses specifically on how alcohol consumption among mutineers affected their experience of the basic emotions of fear and anger. Finally, it addresses some empirical and theoretical shortcomings of the approach and concludes tentatively that some elements of affective neuroscience and basic emotions theory can be useful to historians.

Opposing Scientific Cruelty: The Emotions and Sensitivities of Protestors against Experiments on Animals
Contemporary European History , Volume 23 , Special Issue 04 – Emotions in Protest Movements in Europe since 1917 , November 2014, pp 523 – 543
doi: 10.1017/S0960777314000307 – Published Online on 02nd October 2014
After a marked decline, protests against cruelty to animals in scientific experiments acquired fresh momentum from the middle of the twentieth century onwards. This article sets out to show that the analysis of emotions and sensitivities is best able to account for the similarities and differences between historically distant mobilisations. While late twentieth-century activists have revived an emotional register invented by their precursors of the previous century, the meaning they attribute to their revolt has been profoundly transformed by sensitivities that derive from a very different social status and a different range of affective experiences.

Emotions, Moral Batteries and High-Risk Activism: Understanding the Emotional Practices of the Spanish Anarchists under Franco's Dictatorship
Contemporary European History , Volume 23 , Special Issue 04 – Emotions in Protest Movements in Europe since 1917 , November 2014, pp 545 – 564
doi: 10.1017/S0960777314000319 – Published Online on 02nd October 2014
This article studies the reactivation of activist networks in high-risk settings through a longitudinal analysis of the emotional practices of Spanish anarchists under Franco's dictatorship (1939–75). The anarchists mobilised a series of emotions in their discourse, seeking to change the degree and quality of emotions among potential supporters in order to inspire action. This emotion work focused on hope and indignation, which were crucial tools in the strategic framing of their movement. The use of hope in the anarchists’ discourse allowed them to positively evaluate the effectiveness of their challenge to the authorities. Furthermore, the activists participated in a strategic dramaturgy in front of domestic and international audiences with the intention of reproducing indignation in these onlookers and thus gathering support for their challenge to the regime. The combination of hope and indignation served as a moral battery during two periods of additional intensification of clandestine activity. Other emotions are also analysed, specifically, the resentment provoked by internal struggles in the middle of the 1940s, and the combination of anxiety and fascination towards the visibility achieved by the communists within the anti-Franco opposition in the early 1960s. In the end, longitudinal analysis of the anarchists’ emotional practices seeks to contribute to a better understanding of important questions still little studied in the emerging subfield of emotions and social movements, namely the combination of emotions in collective action and the historical evolution of the emotions.

Love, Peace and Rock ’n’ Roll on Gorky Street: The ‘Emotional Style’ of the Soviet Hippie Community
Contemporary European History , Volume 23 , Special Issue 04 – Emotions in Protest Movements in Europe since 1917 , November 2014, pp 565 – 587
doi: 10.1017/S0960777314000320 – Published Online on 02nd October 2014
Soviet hippies were in many ways a paradoxical phenomenon. They imitated an ideal that was shaped by American realities in a Soviet world. They were anti-Soviet, yet they professed an apolitical life style. This article proposes that rather than looking at the Soviet hippies with ideology in mind it is more fruitful to consider them an emotional community whose ‘emotional style’ differed from the Soviet mainstream and ultimately proved a formidable challenge to the Soviet system. The article investigates several exterior markers of Soviet hippie culture, which formed and reflected the ‘emotional style’ of the Soviet hippies such as their creed of love and peace, their enjoyment of rock music and the significance of hippie fashion. Drawing on interviews with contemporary witnesses from the Soviet hippie scene particular attention is given to the new rhetoric hippies employed to describe emotions particular to their style of life, to the way the practice of these emotions differed from the official Soviet emotional codex and to the nexus that linked the vocabulary and practice of emotions with specific items, sites, rituals and attributes. The article concludes that, while Soviet hippies remained a subculture, their style, including their ‘emotional style’ proved very durable and capable of expansion into the mainstream, ultimately surviving the Soviet system and its emotional norms.

A (Trans)National Emotional Community? Greek Political Songs and the Politicisation of Greek Migrants in West Germany in the 1960s and early 1970s
Contemporary European History , Volume 23 , Special Issue 04 – Emotions in Protest Movements in Europe since 1917 , November 2014, pp 589 – 614
doi: 10.1017/S0960777314000332 – Published Online on 02nd October 2014
This article examines the emotional standards and experiences connected with the entehno laiko music composed by Mikis Theodorakis that was immensely popular among left-wing Greek migrants, workers and students, living in West Germany in the 1960s and the early 1970s. Expanding on a body of literature that explores the transnational dimensions of protest movements in the 1960s and the 1970s, the article demonstrates that these transnational dimensions were not mutually exclusive with the fact that at least some of those protestors felt that they belonged to a particular nation. Drawing on the conceptual framework put forth by Barbara Rosenwein, it argues that the performance of these songs was conducive to the making of a (trans)national emotional community. On the one hand, for Greek left-wingers residing in West Germany and, after 1967, for Greek centrists too, the collective singing of music composed by Theodorakis initially served as a means of ‘overcoming fear’ and of forging committed militants who struggled for the social and political transformation of their country of origin. On the other, from the late 1960s onwards those migrants increasingly enacted this emotional community with local activists from West Germany as well.

Struggling for Feelings: The Politics of Emotions in the Radical New Left in West Germany, c.1968–84
Contemporary European History , Volume 23 , Special Issue 04 – Emotions in Protest Movements in Europe since 1917 , November 2014, pp 615 – 637
doi: 10.1017/S0960777314000344 – Published Online on 02nd October 2014
The article discusses emotional politics in the radical left in West Germany from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. The first part analyses radical left-wing critiques of capitalism during the 1970s that focused on the emotions that capitalism allegedly produced. The article argues that activists described an ‘emotional regime’ of capitalism, but in doing so effectively instituted an emotional regime within their own milieu which made the expression of certain negative feelings, such as fear, imperative. The article then discusses emotional practices radical left-wingers developed in order to overcome the alleged ‘emotional void’ of capitalism. The article's second part then focuses on the urban revolts of 1980–81 (mostly in Berlin). This revolt marked a decisive shift, as the centrality of fear, frustration and boredom was increasingly overshadowed by feelings of joy and ecstatic possibility. The article concludes by proposing that the alternative left contributed to the formulation of new emotional styles and norms in West German society at large.

Concluding Thoughts
Contemporary European History , Volume 23 , Special Issue 04 – Emotions in Protest Movements in Europe since 1917 , November 2014, pp 639 – 644
doi: 10.1017/S0960777314000356 – Published Online on 02nd October 2014
Fifteen plus years into the ‘emotional turn’ in the study of contentious politics, the question is no longer ‘do emotions matter’ but rather ‘do emotions ever not matter?’ Or, stated positively, can we grasp the phenomena that we group together under the name of collective political action without paying attention to feelings, emotions, affect? As others have argued, the factors that social movement scholars deem important for mobilisation – e.g. political opportunities, organisations, frames – have force precisely because of the feelings that they elicit, stir up, amplify, or dampen. We turn towards emotion, then, in order to understand the workings of the key concepts in the field. In addition, we need to explore feelings because they often are a primary catalyst or hindrance to political mobilisation, attenuating the role of other factors. Then there are the many other aspects of collective political action, beyond the question of mobilisation per se, where emotions play important roles, from ideological struggles to alliance formation to activist rituals to collective identity formation to community building. So, again, are emotions ever unimportant, are they ever a simply trivial aspect of what happens in and around contentious politics? Historians of emotion might take the argument further. If, as Rosenwein argues, ‘emotions are about things judged important to us’, 2 if emotions are indications of what matters, of what is valued and devalued, how can scholars interested in any aspect of social life not consider emotions?

Review Articles

‘Foreshadows and Repercussions’: Histories of Air War and the Recasting of Cities and Citizens
Contemporary European History , Volume 23 , Special Issue 04 – Emotions in Protest Movements in Europe since 1917 , November 2014, pp 645 – 655
doi: 10.1017/S0960777314000368 – Published Online on 02nd October 2014
In the preface to the 1941 edition to his 1908 novel, The War in the Air, H. G. Wells wrote: ‘I told you so. You damned fools’. The books discussed here illustrate how, in the few intervening decades, air war moved from a fearful vision into reality, and detail the varied experiences and consequences of the aerial bombardment of cities and civilians. The histories of air power and the aerial bombardment of cities have centred on the Second World War, moving from the humanising endurance of Londoners during the Blitz to the entirely dehumanised horror of the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The texts reviewed here extend the histories of air war and highlight the city and the home as a target for bombing while remaining the place where people carried on their daily lives.

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