History in conflict webinar: introducing the early modern edition

Justyna Wubs-Mrozewicz

Did people in premodern times understand what the past was, and were they able to engage with it or even use it to their advantage? In his influential essay Vergangene Zukunft (1968, in English as Futures Past, 1985), Reinhart Koselleck argued that the premodern (Western) understanding of the past was quite different from the modern one. The past was seen as part of a sequence of cycles in nature and lifetimes, as part of a theological framework which could not be captured by secular chronology, or as a reservoir of timeless tales which could be directly applied as lessons. Judith Pollmann (Memory in early modern Europe, 2017) has rightly pointed out that this essay was a contribution to the philosophy of history, and not an analysis of premodern social practices. She showed in her work that the engagement with the past was rich, widespread and that no sharp line can be drawn between the premodern and the modern in this respect. A complex sense of – and by extension, a sophisticated use of – the past is not only a modern phenomenon.

In our series of webinars, we use the magnifying glass of conflicts to reveal this complexity and sophistication in detail. The authors of the papers demonstrate that there was a premodern understanding of the past which could be very specific and pragmatic, for instance when pointing to the dates of business deals or riots. But there was also an understanding that the past could be perceived and narrated very differently (in accounts of quarrels),  that it could be negotiated (in diplomatic settings) or obliterated (in archives, landscapes or social customs). In our discussions, the magnifying glass is applied to primary sources in order to discuss the role the past played in conflicts. The connecting question of the webinars is ‘What happened in a conflict situation when one put references to the past – history – memory – precedent on the table?’ The enumerated temporal concepts, obviously, are not identical. Some are more fitting to a judicial context (precedent), while others are more fitting to a context where the experience of the past is key (memory). What they do have in common in the context we examine here by way of experiment is a clear function in handling the conflict. [....]

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History in conflicts webinar: the early modern edition

Justyna Wubs-Mrozewicz

On Friday 28.01.2022, we will host the #earlymodern edition of #historyinconflicts. The speakers are Yolanda Rodriguez Perez, Marjolein Schepers, Lena Oetzel, Dorothee Goetze, Shannon Mcsheffrey, Carlo Taviani, Jan Hennings, Stuart Carroll, Stephen Cummins Gerard Wiegers and Hilde De Weerdt.

Like in the medieval webinar, we will take a close look at great primary sources and discuss the question of what impact history/memory/the past can have on conflicts.[....]

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New book publication, fact+fiction!

Justyna Wubs-Mrozewicz

Rumours have been circulating about an unusual publication...

We can confirm now: our sources made it to a book which combines fact and fiction: a historical detective for all aged 10-110, curious about history and archival research![....]

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Introducing a blog series on #historyinconflicts: the medieval edition

Justyna Wubs-Mrozewicz

On 25.06.2021, a group of medievalists discussed the question ‘What happens when history is evoked in conflicts’? Specifically: Did such discourse take place? – How did it happen? – Why did it happen? in medieval cases and sources, ranging from the Scottish Marches to Sardinia, and from lawsuits to references to burial mounds. What functions did such historical discourse have? Was it, for instance, a call for change or a call for preservation in a conflict? And who used the memory of a sometimes distant past in the heat of a clash? The historical argument in conflicts was not only an interpretation of the past. Various actors within such conflicts gave meaning to events and relations in the past, and made use of the historical discourse for specific ends.

It was a very thought-provoking online meeting, which we want to share here. Indeed, the goal of this blog series is to present summaries of the contributions by medievalists and to continue the discussion with early modernists and modernists. Some highlights by way of introduction.[....]

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History as an argument in conflicts webinar 25.06

Justyna Wubs-Mrozewicz

What happens in a conflict when you use history as a powerful argument to reach your goal?...
On 25th of June, a group of medievalists will discuss captivating examples from their own sources and research. Jackson Armstrong, Flavio Miranda, Justine Firnhaber-Baker, Patrick Lantschner, Hans Jacob Orning, Jenny Benham, jembenham, Justyna Wubs-Mrozewicz, Dan Smail, Piotr Górecki.

If you want to join in, DM: spots are limited here! We will be, however, tweeting summaries of the presentations and discussions in the week of 28th of June, and longer posts on our website. And: we invite both #twitterstorians and #conflict scholars to comment.

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