Prof Kevin Passmore
Democratic Century: Democracy, Majorities, and Pluralism in Europe since 1880 (Oxford: Oxford University Press)
Democratic Century will trace the meanings and of the term 'democracy' and ask what was at stake in it use in a period in which the word has been harnessed to liberal democracy, Soviet popular democracy, the Nazi’s Teutonic Democracy’, nationalism, socialism and more. The book will break with the national comparative logic of many histories of Europe; it will show that the nation-state was only one of the frameworks within which people organized their actions, and was the most important in only particular contexts. At other times, frameworks larger than the nation (economies, religions, ideologies) or smaller (family, region) were more significant to people in the past.
The historiography of the social sciences
Interdisciplinary project organised by Professors Philippe Fontaine (École normale supérieure, Cachan) and Trevor Backhouse (University of Birmingham). Publication by Cambridge University Press
Who writes the history of the social and human sciences? Is the history of history written by academics inside or outside the discipline? Is it written in dialogue with other disciplines? What is the relative emphasis on intellectual history of the discipline and of and institutional, cultural and political frameworks? What influence has the evolution of historical writing had on the way that anthropology, sociology, economics, and political science write their histories—and vice versa?
Fascism as a Social Movement
Contribution to the Conference, 'The history of Social movements: a global perspective'
To approach fascism as a social movement in a transnational context is to buck the trend in studies of ‘generic fascism’ and indeed to question the objective of constructing a model of fascism at all. Research on social movements emphasises goal directed, rational-within-a-context collective action outside institutional frameworks, either to promote or resist change. As such, social movements are very different from collective outbursts, crazes or fads. Yet the currently fashionable political religions approach to fascism depends precisely upon an unacknowledged reworking of late-nineteenth century crowd theory. It sees fascist movements and regimes as a variety of crowd, and to explain their emergence, uses the classic strain-breakdown–reintegration model. It assumes that an elite (or rather a demagogic counter elite), the high-priests of the political religion, manipulates the irrational, disoriented and undifferentiated mass, and mobilises it for a project of revolutionary transformation. There is little room in political religions theory for goal directed action on the part of the mass; its agency is limited to expressing the desire for charismatic leadership. However, political religions theory does provide insight into the emotional and ideological dimension of fascism, while strain-breakdown theory helps us to understand the 'opportunity structure' of with which protagonists counted.
Conference: Political violence in interwar Europe, 1918-1940
From confrontations during strikes to the street battles of extremist groups, violence was a feature of interwar European politics. As countries entered an age of mass politics, governments searched for ways to integrate their peoples into the political system. Yet violence as a means of political expression and engagement persisted, even in democratic nations. Violent political conflict preceded the establishment of fascist regimes in Italy and Germany, and civil war in Spain. In Eastern Europe, the collapse of empire and the founding of new nation-states gave rise to violent political struggle. In France and Britain, street fighting and rioting raised fears over the breakdown of order in the western democracies. State authorities could respond with implicit approval directed at enemies or with force, especially in colonial territories. Groups that resorted to violence were often part of broader international political phenomenon and organisations such as Communism and Fascism. The development of the ideas and practices of such groups was subject to transfers across national boundaries. Yet most existing histories tend to focus on particular national contexts or countries where extremist governments came to power. Furthermore, accounts take either the left or the right as their subject, but say little about common practices and attitudes.
19-21 September 2012, Jointly organized with Chris Millington