Graduate Student Workshop on Modern German Histories

On December 6, Der Kreis, a graduate student working group sponsored by IES, organized a workshop on “Modern German Histories” held in the conference room of the UC Berkeley Social Science Matrix. Consisting in three panels, the workshop allowed six graduate students from Stanford and UC Berkeley to discuss their work on a wide range of topics. These panels were moderated by Professors Tara Zahra (University of Chicago), Edith Sheffer (Stanford University), and Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann (UC Berkeley).

Ian Beacock (Stanford University) began with his paper entitled “On Emotions & Political Violence: The Killing of Walther Rathenau.” Through an engagement with parliamentary transcripts, cabinet documents, newspapers, and magazines, Beacock sought to highlight a commonly overlooked debate surrounding political emotions that emerged following the 1922 murder of Walther Rathenau, Germany’s Jewish foreign minister during the time.

Then, Maria DuBois (UC Berkeley) presented her paper “The Man Builds the House, and the Woman Keeps It!: Feminine Probity, Practicality, and Patriotism in the Diaries of Women Travelers and Settlers in East Africa, 1860s-1920s,” in which she illuminated the role of motherhood during Germany’s imperial period.

Sheer Ganor (UC Berkeley) also presented a paper entitled “Forbidden Words, Banished Voices. Jewish Refugees at the Service of BBC Propaganda to Wartime Germany,” which explored the paradoxical importance of Jewish refugees’ positions within the BBC’s German Service in England.

Later, Benjamin Hein (Stanford University) spoke on “Migration Backed Securities. Emigrants Underwrite the New Transatlantic Economy, 1860-1873,” throughout which Hein examined the emigrant-cotton exchange between the American South and Europe and how such transatlantic trade stimulated the growth of Imperial Germany’s economy.

Next, Elena Kempf (UC Berkeley) engaged with the legal imaginations of Henry Dunant and Johann-Caspar Bluntschli in her paper, “War, Law, and Time: Codifying International Humanitarian Law in Late Nineteenth Century France and Germany.”

Finally, Julia Wambach (UC Berkeley) highlighted the influence of the German occupation of France on the French attitudes towards their own occupation of Germany following the Second World War in her paper, “In search of the German resistance: experiences, expectations, and the French occupation of Germany 1945-1955.” In all, the fifteen participants in the day’s proceedings benefited greatly from the opportunity receive constructive feedback on their work as well as to engage in the lively discussions that ensued following these presentations of forthcoming scholarship.