Call for Sessions For the 53rd Biennial Convention of German Historians in Munich ‘Conflicting Interpretations’ 8-11 September 2020
Submission deadline: 31 October 2019
The German Historical Association will celebrate its 125th anniversary in 2020. Munich was the location of the first Convention in 1893, as well as the first held after the war in 1949. It is thus fitting that we will return to Munich for this anniversary from 8 to 11 September 2020. The partner country for the 53rd Convention of German Historians is Israel. The conference theme is ‘Conflicting Interpretations’.
Conflicting interpretations accompany historical developments and stimulate their public perception, because what is always fought over is that which a society values as true, fair or legitimate. A glance at the causes or effects of wars and peace agreements, the foundation of nation states or the decline of the polity as a result of social, economic or cultural upheavals has led to and continues to lead to conflicting interpretations, which are often influenced by current concerns. For example, the fierce debates since the 1960s about responsibility for the First World War have been influenced by the catastrophic impact of the Second World War. The future is negotiated to a large extent through competing interpretations of the past. Conflicting interpretations, therefore, are an important vehicle for social and academic debates about the past. They can be a force for integration as well as division, as can be seen in the ambivalent approaches of many eastern (and central) European nations to their history.
Contemporary conflicting interpretations are important sources for historians about contradictory or mutually beneficial ideas of order, perspectives and knowledge practices. Historical inquiry can reveal narratives and discourses, and their origins, developments and interconnections, through its methodological approaches. This, in turn, enables a more profound understanding of the complexity of the present and competing points of view. Conflicting interpretations, therefore, lead not least towards methodological reflections on the foundations of historical knowledge. The engagement with methodological approaches is fundamentally essential today in light of dynamically changing frameworks, such as accelerating change in the media and limitations on academic freedom. Debates about conflicting interpretations are perhaps even more necessary now than ever before when we are faced with politicised claims about the results of scientific research, in order to make visible the political and social contexts of ideas and actions.
The partner country of the 53rd Convention of German Historians, Israel, more than few other countries, is at the centre of conflicting interpretations about its history and politics that go to heart of its very existence. Israel’s multilayered history, its complex, multi-ethnic society which extends into antiquity, its particular geo-political location and its involvement with European and near-eastern culture make it a partner country that offers numerous points of reference to all European historical periods. Other aspects of particular relevance for historical inquiry are the special German-Israeli ties, which developed not least from German responsibility for the Holocaust. This question of responsibility is especially relevant for Munich, where Hitler’s ascent originated. Although Jewish culture was brought close to complete destruction through National Socialism, Munich today hosts one of the largest Jewish communities in Germany.
As in previous years, not all sessions of the Convention will reflect the theme. Sessions that address other topics are welcome to …. READ MORE