Occupied Societies in Western Europe:
Conflict and Encounter in the 20th Century
Essen, 7th – 8th July 2016
Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities, Essen / Duitsland Instituut Amsterdam
in Collaboration with
Arbeitskreis Deutsch Niederländische Geschichte (ADNG/WDNG)
Arbeitskreis historische Belgienforschung
The history of Western Europe in the first half of the 20th century was shaped by numerous contradictions: by conflicts and interdependencies, proximity and distance, violence and cooperation. Many of these elements can be identified in the structures and dynamics of Western European societies under German occupation. After all, the relationship between occupiers and the occupied cannot simply be reduced to “collaboration” and “resistance”, in contrast to the suggestions of an older historiography. Rather, the physical and regulatory presence of the occupier was accompanied by a great variety of transnational encounters, and by both contacts and conflicts between the occupiers and the occupied. Furthermore, occupation also impacted upon the internal fabric of the occupied societies, going hand-in-hand with specific societal experiences, creating both opportunities for and constraints upon action, transforming daily routines and undermining long-established social certainties. In Western Europe in particular, the structures and scope of these interactions between occupier and occupied, as well as those within the occupied societies themselves, were often fundamentally influenced by forms of hybrid statehood, as the (nation-)state and its agencies were now operating under German supervision. A focus on occupation therefore provides a key to the historical understanding of wartime Western Europe, one capable of unlocking both the strangeness, confrontation and violent border crossings in these years, and also the encounters, hopes, and new opportunities that presented themselves.
The conference seeks to discuss these relationships in a comparative manner, grounded in transfer history. This means, on the one hand, that due consideration will be given to the paradoxical “connected distance” of Western Europe to the escalating violence of genocide and the war of extermination in Central and Eastern Europe. A further context will be constituted by the interactions between the occupied “motherlands” of France, Belgium and the Netherlands and their colonial dependencies overseas. Finally, the conference will also go beyond the end of the war in its focus, and discuss the various ways in which the experiences of the occupation – and the expertise and knowledge gained – have impacted upon transnational practices in the post-war period.
Those interested in participating in this conference are kindly requested to submit a proposal (max. 400 words) and a short CV. These should be sent by February 29th 2016, to both:
Prof. Dr. Tatjana Tönsmeyer (KWI Essen/Bergische Universität Wuppertal) Tatjana.Toensmeyer@kwi-nrw.de
Dr. Krijn Thijs (DIA Amsterdam; Arbeitskreis Deutsch-Niederländische Geschichte) K.Thijs@uva.nl
The conference will take place at the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities, Essen (KWI). The conference languages are German and English. Speakers’ travel and accommodation costs will be covered.