Call for Papers ‚Beyond the timeline: How to write History (for example of the Middle Ages) in different ways‘

It is part of human experience that developments happen from earlier to later stages. Hence, the courses of these developments are usually written from the time that has longer gone to those times that are closer to us. Such a chronologically progressing historiography is generally accepted,though theoretically and methodologically admitted that researching narrating the past always happens from a present by looking backwards into the past. The question then can be raised to what extent it is reflected, that such a chronological account implies a kind of causally determined history of reception inaddition to the impact our own, contemporary viewpoints have. The historian of early Christianity and the medieval times, Markus Vinzent has recently criticised this type of historiography of reception of the past. In his book of the year 2019 ‚Writing the History of Early Christianity. From Reception to Retrospection‘ (Cambridge University Press) Vinzent introduces the perspective of

retrospection as a criticial method of historiography and exemplifies this by several showcases from the‘beginnings’of Christianity. One of the basic ideas of retrospection is that writing history must by necessity be progressive (as all our thinking and writing is progressive),while its (re-)construction is always done in a regressive mode, working anachronologically against the timeline. If this is recognised, continuities and linearities disappear. Vinzent‘s historiographical method of retrospection dissolves the difference between sources (oranoriginal, authoritativereference text) and secondary literature and questions past authorities (auctoritates). Retrospection rather foregrounds the author of the historiographical production as subject of history which targets different objects of the past. Does retrospection mean,we should simply turn back the time line and alter the direction of writing history,or what changes when we approach history deliberately anachronologically? Can we give up–without the loss of a critical instance–the difference between sources and interpretations? Are not timelines and chronologies essential elements of the work of historians?

Beyond a chronologically oriented historiography, the workshop will explore examples from the Middle Ages (not only, however) to discuss several methods and forms of historiography. Potential topics could be: (1)Into which directionof time shouldwe write? What impact does the timeline have in narrating history? Can we,an dif so, how can we alter the direction of writing history?

(2)Beyond the timeline: What is the meaning of time in historiographical concepts? What differences does retrospection make in historiography? How can one write retrospectively? Writing retrospectively, does it lead to novel forms of history (particulary of the Middle Ages)?

(3)Narrativity and time: What additional insights do weget from narrative elements in historiographical productions? What is the meaning of Flashbacks and Flashforwards in narrating history? What do we learn from contrafactual or virtual history? What happens, if historians become agents of history?

The workshop invites contributions from history, literature, cultural studies, philosophy, religious studies, cultural anthropology, sociology and related subjects. We particularly invite young scholars to contribute to the workshop. The workshop will be based on pre-circulated papers. In these contributions which will be distributed to the conference participants at the latest a fortnight before the workshop. During the workshop the papers shall be introduced by their authors and will then discussed. The evening lecture will be given by Prof. Dr. Markus Vinzent who is going to present his new book. Please submit your paper proposal with an abstract (ca. 500 words). Abstracts and papers can be presented in German or English and will be discussed in both languages. We are working towards a third party funding of the workshop.

For more information:

Emilia Jamroziak presents a working paper on ‚The linear construction of monastic history in the modern historiography: what are its consequences and is there any alternative?‘

This project aims to explain key historiographical processes that history of medieval monasticism has been the subject to from the nineteenth-century onwards. Far from being marginal, the modern historiography of medievall monasticism is a powerful test-case for a wider understanding of the interpretational processes of history, meta-levels of historiographical developments as well as opportunities of the transcultural approaches that emerged in the recent years. Although monasticism has late Antiquity roots and long post-medieval histories, the medieval period is the formative one and has been studied with particular intensity. It is frequently used as a stage that not only shaped but also defined this phenomenon. The ‘tyranny’ of origins has affected the historiography of medieval monasticism to a great extent and continues to do so. The value attached to – or rejection of – monastic heritage has been shaped in significant ways by how the history of monasticism has been incorporated into linear histories of nation-states. The confessional perspectives – Catholic and Protestant were very important in shaping western-European historiography in the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century. The resent resurgence of the confessionally-driven interpretations in parts of East-Central Europe (especially Poland, Croatia and Hungary) and its impact on the approaches to the medieval monastic history are crucial for the wider understanding of contemporary identities and the place that medieval history has within ‘politics of history’. Since the development of the academic study of monasticism, the trans-European monastic networks have been routinely studied from the perspective of modern political borders and subjecting it to the specific periodisation concerns as well as set of questions that removed or diminished agency of such communities vis-à-vis political structures. In most extreme versions it had led to the models that removed the religious component from the analysis altogether. The powerful image of rationality and economic planning, as well as seeing strategic innovations in the monastic structures have been central to the Weberian-inspired models of interpretation. Whilst economy-focused approaches largely disappeared by the late-twentieth century, the models that interpret monastic structures and many elements of monastic culture as a precursor of modern rationality, often using the terminology of ‘innovation’ remained, at meta-level, anchored in the concept of progress and development.

Martin Christ presents a working paper on ‚Moving Religion out of the City? Extra-urban Cemeteries in Germany, 1490 – 1880‘

Understood as a space for religious rituals, saturated with religious iconography and meaning and full of biblical symbolism, burial spaces formed a ‘hot spot’ of religion. After focusing on the cemetery as a religious space, this paper will turn to the movement of cemeteries form inside the city to its outside and indicate some of the reasons people living in the early modern period gave for the movement of cemeteries. The next part sketches some European comparisons, focusing, in particular, on the British Isles, which show a different kind of reasoning behind the movement of cemeteries and indicate that religion was only a key factor for the movement of cemeteries, if combined with other causes. Finally, the paper considers one of the key questions regarding the movement of cemeteries, that is, if the move of the burial spaces outside of the city walls led to a more secular city, a view that is still highly influential in the historiography on this topic. By way of conclusion, I offer some questions for further directions of this research.

Nancy Alhachem gives a working paper on ‚Cultural Trauma, Memory and Affect‘

This project explores the practices of memory among refugees and migrants (mostly from Arab countries such as Syrians, Iraqis and Palestinians), in the light of Rosa’s resonance theory, which suggests ‘thinking and feeling in exchange’, to allow the other, whether it is a person, an object or, a memory, to be touched by it and result in an affect that is felt individually. My project will investigate the obstacles that could hinder this resonance between the migrant’s memory and the Germans’ Erinnerungskultur. A substantial part of the latter is focused on the coming to terms with the Holocaust, and therefore shapes German national and cultural identity. It also plays a major role in the interaction between different groups in German society. As shown in my MA dissertation, refugees and migrants from countries shaped by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict struggle to adopt the German narrative of the Holocaust and of National Socialism. In my PhD thesis, this conflict will be investigated by exploring the role of museums and memorials. In order to do so, museums and memorials dealing with the Holocaust will be understood as ‘resonant spaces’, which allow memories to be communicated and exchanged. Investigating the historical background from which the migrants come helps understand the obstacles that could hinder a resonant experience. Such obstacles are national ideologies, the portrayal of the Holocaust in the country of origin, and the conflict that affected the region. I therefore suggest a multidirectional approach to memory, because it allows that different groups enter into a dialogue instead of competing with each other over narratives on numbers of victims and the amount of suffering, topics
usually associated with Holocaust studies. Cultural trauma is conceptualized as a ‘linking experience’, allowing for a reciprocal resonance between the migrants on one side and the German society on the other side. Hence, the central subjects of my thesis deals with the refugees and the Holocaust remembrance in the German context, memory and identity in the shades of a country new to the refugees, who are asked to integrate by adopting a narrative of the Holocaust that is foreign to them because of their upbringing. It will also deal with the role of colonialism and nationalism that made the European culture of remembrance distinct from others; as will be shown, even opposed to that of the Arab one; and it will explore the role of the Holocaust in the German national (cultural) identity of a generation that is increasingly removed from the events.

Eleonor Marcussen presents a working paper on ‚Transformations of the political in the life of Pierre Ceresole: Religion, humanitarian thought and decolonization, c. 1918-1945 ‚

This paper seeks to discuss the influence of South Asian decolonisation movements on European pacifism in the interwar period through the work and ideas of Pierre Ceresole (17/08/1879 – 23/10/1945), a Swiss internationalist and pacifist. In exploring how his ideas about pacifism evolved in relation to World War I and its aftermath, this paper argues that anti-colonial nationalism and decolonisation movements played a crucial role in shaping his pacifist methods and networks. The paper seeks to link two strands of historical research: first, the role of religion and spirituality in humanitarianism, and second, how activities that went against dominant discourses of nationalism, colonialism and ideologies of violence were shaped by interaction between civil society groups in transnational thought zones throughout the first half of the twentieth century.

Reshma Radhakrishnan gives a working paper on ‚‘Strategic Accommodation’ of Diversities: gender norms and identities beyond the binaries‘

Gender diversity is an area that has come to be more and more complex over the years with the troubling of the binary understanding of gender. Queer studies/movements effectively question and complicate the concept, challenging the idea of heteronormativity. This project is concerned with the processes of ‘accommodation’ of gender diversities and heterogeneity. Engaging with the queer movement and queer politics of Kerala, a south-Indian state often praised as one of the most developed among the Indian states in many respects, I look at the case of trans-women of Kerala vis-à-vis the rest of the country, and extend the analysis in the context of the European/transnational experiences. This paper is a small step in this direction. In this paper, I primarily try to introduce the project, contextualise the study and engage with the question of visibility. I engage with the complexity of ‘visibility‘ and critiques to the fights for visibility, and suggest that it has more to do with achieving ‘normalcy‘ than an imposed visibility or hypervisibility.

João Tziminadis presents a working paper on ‚The Unleashed Life and the Fading Body‘

This text is my first attempt to frame theoretically the relation between modern Biotechnology and the historical, epistemological, and normative constitution of Biogerontology, the science responsible for the study of biological ageing. The first part is an attempt to under-stand the cultural placement of modern Biotechnology, for which I resort to Hartmut Rosa’s concept of Verfügbarmachung as a useful tool. The second one departs from the suspect that the possibilities opened by modern Biotechnology might have impacted the main-stream scientific understanding of human ageing, so that I present central biogerontological concepts that might reflect that impact. The relation between Biotechnology’s promise of unleashing life from its biological limitations and Biogerontology’s new understanding of ageing as life-encompassing process of loss of function weaves the text.