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קול קורא // לכנס: הוקעה - יצירת תרבות של פחד [טרטו 06/24] דדליין=1.2.24

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Denunciation – Creating a Culture of Fear

Estland, Tartu University, 6–8 June 2024

Denunciation – the act of accusing someone in front of state officials of divergent or delinquent behavior – can have far-reaching effects on individual and societal levels. Throughout history and regions, denunciation has caused the death of the denounced person and led to a widespread distrust and fear that undermines social cohesion. Denunciation is a phenomenon we can grasp throughout world history. In Neo-Assyrian treaties we find the demand to report evil speech against the ruler, in Medieval times heretics and later on witches were denounced. In the states of the Soviet Union German research focuses on the (lack of) accountability of denunciation during the Nazi regime (Halbrainer/Kuretsidis-Haider 2007) or the “dimensions of betrayal” during the GDR system (Krätzner-Ebert 2023). Besides the fear of being monitored by state actors like the police or secret services, an especially problematic case is denunciation by fellow citizens, friends and family. “Denunciation as social practice” can result in the creation of a culture of fear and the acceptance of a culture of denunciation (Hornung 2010).

Undermining social cohesion can be the aim of hybrid warfare or the result of despotic or simply bad politics. One of the consequences of influence activity can be a culture of fear and panic in society due to the insecurity created by crises or war. A culture of fear precipitates insecurity, instability and anxiety in social discourses and relationships caused by emotional reactions (Mölder 2011: 241). The culture of fear may even appear to increase solidarity in societies, but the irrational decisions that are taken in response to it, the constant need to introduce ever new measures that pretend to be crisis management, other tactical miscalculations can lead in the long term to large-scale strategic errors and global miscalculations with negative social and political consequences. The sense of social unity achieved through a culture of fear is never effective, as society does not evolve but focuses all its energies on self-preservation (Mölder 2018: 69).

This conference will investigate the reasons for denunciation and coping mechanisms. Aiming at providing a solid background for the analysis of denunciation, we welcome papers that investigate the historical development of denunciation from its origins in the ancient world to modern times from an international and interdisciplinary perspective.

Papers are welcomed that touch on the following themes, but may not be limited to them:


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University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia
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