The workshop, hosted by the German Historical Institute London as part of the Postdoctoral Scholarship “History of the Political”, looks at the diplomatic history between Great Britain and continental Europe from an agent-centred perspective. On the one hand, personal relationships between statesmen were of private matter. On the other hand, long-lasting friendships, personal animosities or patronage alliances could have a great impact on politics. This implies that emotions were an important part of the political decision-making process. Moreover, some of these personal relationships happened to become political issues themselves: For example, the MP James Stansfeld had to resign from office in 1864, because his friendship with the exiled Italian politician Giuseppe Mazzini had turned into a scandal.
On the basis of case studies, the workshop aims to scrutinise the methodological possibilities of incorporating personal relationships into the history of politics. The participants will deal with the meaning of social interaction in the specific political setting of the 19th century and will explore the interdependencies between the “private” and the “public”.
Questions to be addressed include: How significant were court cultures or international networks for taking up and cultivating personal relationships? What influence did the establishment of legations have on the way politics was “done”? With the extension of the political space, was there also more room for personal relationships? What is the significance of common social values and codes of conduct as well as of class, religion and professional ethos for the personal relationships between politicians? Did a bourgeois or aristocratic, communist or conservative understanding of how politicians should interact on a personal level exist?
And, when, where and how did these relationships become visible in public, for example as a scandal?
We would like to invite researchers at post-doc stage or near completion of their doctoral thesis who work in the fields of cultural history of politics, diplomatic history, history of emotions, transnational networks or media history in the 19th century. Their presentations should cover the personal relationship between one British and one continental European politician (or within a small group of politicians) and its political implications in the 19th century. Gender perspectives are also welcome (e.g. on the “special quality” of male friendships). Presentation time: 20 minutes.
The workshop is going to take place 11-12 October 2010 at the German Historical Institute London. The conference language will be English. Applications can be made via email to Dr. Heidi Mehrkens (firstname.lastname@example.org) until 20 June 2010 and should include an abstract (of no more than 500 words) and a short Curriculum Vitae.
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