This is an announcement of a call for papers for a planned session at the 2010 American Historical Association conference in San Diego. In the wake of the Second World War and the Holocaust debates arose in Europe over the concept of humanism and the nature of humanity and their role in the reconstruction of European culture. While some sought to reconstruct European culture on the basis of attempts to regenerate or redeem the concept of the human, others followed Martin Heidegger in rejecting the human as a viable conceptual approach. Contributions to these discussions, involving philosophers, social theorists, theologians, and literary figures, built on scholarly tendencies which had arisen in the 1930s, for instance in the humanist Marxism of Bloch and Marcuse, in the Christian humanism of Mounier and Maritain, as well as in the nascent anti-humanism of Martin Heidegger. The resumption of these debates in the period after 1945 occurred in the context not only of the period of Nazi barbarism just ended but of the multifaceted systemic competition of the Cold War. This panel will look at attempts to appropriate the humanistic heritage of European culture and at anti-humanistic critiques of these approaches.
We invite papers that examine humanism and anti-humanism in philosophy, social theory, theology, art, and literature as they related to the context of the Cold War and attempts to comprehend the significance of the Holocaust and the rise of totalitarianism. Proposals addressing the relationship between concepts of humanism and humanity in Europe and the decolonizing world are also welcome.
Please forward a cv and a brief abstract (300-500 words) to John Foster at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than February 13, 2009.
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