Call for Submissions

Hello Everyone! We are currently seeking submissions for our final meeting in April 2017. Papers, Dissertation Chapters, Grant Proposals are all welcome.

Please send submissions to (John Finkelberg) or  (Matt Hershey ( )

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Thursday, May 5th: Visions of Emancipation

Please join the European History Workshop on Thursday, May 5th, in 1014 Tisch Hall (4-6pm) for a special panel discussion:

“Visions of Emancipation: Intellectual Mobility in Modern Poland”


From the late nineteenth century on, Polish intellectuals embarked on a number of projects involving the educational mobility of the popular classes. Usually these projects were heavily tainted by the intelligentsia’s paternalism toward “the people.” The “people,” however, also engaged in independent forms of autodidacticism. In both cases, their projects were explicitly contested by guards of the existing order. But what did such democratization mean for intellectuals, peasants, and workers, respectively? Was it possible for the popular classes to rise up the social hierarchy? Did workers’ and peasants’ historical circumstances provide them with the opportunities and support necessary to succeed?  How did the old elites – or the intellectuals who facilitated these ideas – react when their projects were put into practice, often with unforeseen consequences? The panel will examine these issues from a number of angles, from global exchanges of correspondence dealing with the education of peasant girls in the early twentieth century, to the autodidacticism of working-class militants around the 1905 Revolution, to the push among intellectuals to open up higher education to the popular classes after WWII.


Kathleen Wroblewski (PhD Candidate in History, University of Michigan)
Wiktor Marzec (PhD Candidate in Sociology, Central European University)
Agata Zysiak (Visiting Scholar, Sociology, University of Michigan)
Commentator: Brian Porter-Szücs (Professor of History, University of Michigan)

Click here for a copy of the program.

Wednesday, April 8th: Geraldine Gudefin

Please join the European History Workshop on Wednesday, April 8th, 5:30-7:30pm for the following paper & discussion:

“Creating Legal Difference: The Impossible Divorce of Russian Jews in France” (see abstract below)

Geraldine Gudefin
Department of History
Brandeis University

The paper is now available on the EHW CTOOLS site. For a copy of the paper and/or access to the site, please contact one of the Workshop Coordinators.

The event will be held in 2713 Haven Hall. Dinner will be provided.

Paper abstract:

This chapter examines the development on French jurisprudence on the divorce of Russian Jews, from the beginning of Russian Jewish immigration to World War II. Even though French courts accepted to grant Russian Jews a divorce at the end of the 1880s and in the 1890s, they refused to do so after 1905, on the ground that secular French judges could not fill the roles of Russian rabbis. From that point on, Russian Jews in France could still marry at the city hall, but were not able to get civilly divorced- a Kafkaesque situation. During a three-year period, many Russian Jews were able to get religiously divorced through the Consistory, and their divorces were commonly inscribed on the civil registry, which amounted to a civil recognition of a religious divorce, and allowed them to remarry. However, in 1908 the French government banned the practice of transcription, and the Russian government affirmed that since the law of separation of Church and State, French rabbis had lost official government recognition and therefore were not qualified to grant Russian Jews a divorce. The secularization of family laws in the wake of the Russian Revolution might have eased the legal situation of Russian Jews in France, but the failure of the Soviet government to recognize former subjects of the Russian Empire who had lived abroad for more than five years as Soviet citizens deprived thousands of Russian Jews living in France of their citizenship. Since Russian family laws had ceased to apply to these individuals, French judges had to decide whether to apply French family laws to them. This chapter seeks to trace how and why French judges denied Russian Jews in France access to civil divorce, and how Jewish immigrants responded to this exclusion.

Wednesday, February 25th: Emma Thomas

Please join the European History Workshop on Wednesday, February 25th from 6-8pm for the following paper and discussion:

“Contested Labors: Gender, Sexuality, and the Indenture in German New Guinea”

Emma Thomas
Doctoral Candidate
Departments of History and Germanic Languages and Literatures
University of Michigan

The paper is available on the EHW CTOOLS site NOW. For a copy of the paper and/or access to the site please email one of the workshop co-coordinators.

The event will be held in 2713 Haven Hall.

Dinner will be provided, as usual.

Please find an abstract of the paper below:

As I argue in this paper, concerns about gender and sexuality underpinned the very system that formed the economic, political, social, and ideological basis of German rule in New Guinea—the labor indenture. Drawing on colonial court records and debates about the colonial administration’s proposed ban on the recruitment of female laborers, I examine New Guinean women’s experiences of, and European men’s attitudes toward, the indenture, revealing the centrality of women’s sexual, productive, and reproductive labors to that system. I argue that while these forms of labor were highly contested by both New Guineans and Europeans, German colonists of different stripes shared gendered and racialized understandings of indentured New Guinean women that linked their laboring bodies to sexual licentiousness. That various colonial groups mobilized these tropes toward competing ends suggests that questions of access to, and control over, women’s laboring bodies were central to questions of colonial governance in German New Guinea.

Thursday, February 12th: Stephanie Skier

Please join the European History Workshop on Thursday, February 12th from 6-8pm for the following paper and discussion:

“The International ‘Girl Trade’ and Imperial Germany, 1880s-1914”

Stephanie Skier
Doctoral Student of History
University of Michigan

The paper is available on the EHW CTOOLS site NOW. For a copy of the paper and/or access to the site email the workshop coordinators.

The event will be held in 2608 Haven Hall.

Dinner will be provided, as usual.

Please find a short note from the author of the paper below:

“This paper analyses the concept of ‘Mädchenhandel’ (‘girl-trade’/‘girl-trafficking’) in Imperial Germany and the emergence of ideas that prostitution and sexual commerce constituted a transnational, international, migration issue. A genealogical-conceptual history and periodization of ‘Mädchenhandel’ in German political discourse frames a focused analysis of the German National-Committee for the Combat against Girl-Trafficking (DNBM)’s international activities.
In 1880-1886, Gertrud Guillaume-Schack introduced ‘Mädchenhandel’ in her petitions to abolish regulated prostitution in Germany. Guillaume-Schack borrowed from eclectic German and foreign political movements—Josephine Butler’s campaigns, Swiss Bakuninists, French Protestant social reformers, German Social Democrats—and emphasised fostering healthier alternatives for working-class and poor women. During 1886-1898, following Guillaume-Schack’s expulsion from Germany, ‘Mädchenhandel’ effectively disappeared from public discussion in Germany, even as debates about prostitution and related crime pervaded the middle-class press and the Reichstag in the 1890s. Emigration and transmigration across Germany increased dramatically, informing a shift in the meanings of ‘Mädchenhandel.’ In 1899, in limited connection with William Coote’s campaigns, the DNBM formed to ‘combat girl-trafficking,’ a problem viewed as a mobile, internationally networked traffic in girls and women for the purposes of prostitution. DNBM succeeded in institutionalising the ‘combat against girl-trafficking’ within the official language of Prussian state bureaucracy, with a special police division (ZBM) devoted to policing a mobile, international problem. The 1904 and 1910 intergovernmental agreements further institutionalised the DNBM’s catchphrases in Germany, but this mainstreaming also resulted in a variety of political interests adopting ‘girl-trafficking’ rhetoric for their own agendas, many of which were quite distinct from that of the DNBM, as 1912 Reichstag debates illustrated.
DNBM representatives travelled to destinations in northwestern and eastern Europe, along the North African Mediterranean coast, to Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, New York City, even to Chile and Peru. The purpose of such trips was to investigate and report on the ‘trade in German girls’ in these locations and along these routes. Particularly suspect was ‘girl-trafficking’ from Russian Poland and Galicia, through German ports of Hamburg and Bremen/Bremerhaven, and onward to various Atlantic destinations, most notoriously Buenos Aires. DNBM reported a vast network of brothels and ‘girl-traffickers’ operating around Buenos Aires without police interference. Despite reporting few ‘German girls’ amidst the ‘ethnographic puzzle’ of this South American ‘girl-trafficking,’ DNBM declared that German state officials and German private initiatives had a duty to investigate and eliminate such ‘girl-trafficking’ beyond German territory and even beyond a diaspora of German citizens. DNBM reports contributed to a broader fin de siècle project that framed prostitution as a translocal and international issue involving international migrations and international illicit trade networks, which therefore demanded international investigation and response. The DNBM asserted this internationalist framework under the auspices of a German ‘national’ organization. Investigations and knowledge production about ‘Mädchenhandel’ implicated the scope of the national and the (Imperial) German, and the scope of the international or transnational, negotiating juxtapositions and colocation of these sometimes competing frames. In conversation with Valeska Huber’s ‘translocal vistas’and Kris Manjapra’s ‘visions of the global,’ this paper analyses how the language of ‘Mädchenhandel’ resituated the so-called ‘prostitution question’ in different terms and in different imagined spaces.

This paper is part of a larger project that explores how ‘Mädchenhandel’ discourse structured the thinking and policing of migrants and mobility on different borders of Imperial Germany from the 1880s to 1914. My comparative analysis of three key territorial borders—the northwest border with Belgium and Holland; the eastern border with Imperial Russian Poland and Austro-Hungarian Galicia; and the port of Hamburg—analyses the asymmetries of imagining and policing territorial borders of Imperial Germany.”

Wednesday, December 3rd: Cristian Capotescu

Please join the European History Workshop on Wednesday, December 3rd from 6-8pm for the following paper and discussion:

“Ordinary Solidarity: Humanitarian Aid for Communist and Post-Communist Romania”

Cristian Capotescu
Doctoral Student of History
University of Michigan

The paper is available on the European History Workshop CTOOLS site. For a copy of the paper and/or access to the site email the workshop coordinators.

Please also see the European History Workshop Website for announcements and updates at

The event will be held in 2713 Haven Hall.

Dinner will be provided, as usual.

Please find an abstract of the paper below:

“After the Romanian Revolution in 1989, hundreds of neglected and malnourished orphans were discovered by Western journalists in run-down children’s homes across Romania. Their sudden appearance drew immense international attention to the human costs of pronatalist policies and economic austerity measures imposed on the Romanian population by the ousted communist regime. The following sensationalist media attention on the Romanian orphans obscured the numerous campaigns to mitigate the complex historical roots of this human tragedy: notably, the existence of humanitarian networks that had already emerged in the 1970s in Western Europe to remedy the erosion of the Romanian welfare state and the detrimental effects of banned abortions. In my first case study, I explore the emergence of extensive humanitarian aid through care packages and private transports organized in the community of Transylvanian Saxons in West Germany for their kin in communist Romania. In the late 1980s, as my second case study demonstrates, private humanitarian aid for Romania spread across the Soviet Bloc. In particular, I look at individuals involved in the East German civil rights movement who organized humanitarian campaigns through care packages and illegal border smuggling to Romania. After 1989, these humanitarian networks expanded into a proliferating aid sector that sought to reconstruct the social fabric of post-communist Romania. In this paper, I recuperate the unwritten history of a non-institutionalized form of humanitarian aid that largely exceeded the scope of intervention by established relief agencies and NGOs commonly studied in the literature such as the Red Cross or Doctors without Borders. This project advances the scholarship on Eastern Europe by studying the transnational mobility and solidarity of ordinary people in Cold War-Europe. It sheds light on the contested nature of communist biopolitics and offers a new reading of the post-communist period in Romania.”

Tuesday, November 25th: David Spreen

Please join the European History Workshop on Tuesday, November 25th from 4-6pm for the following paper and discussion:

“Weimar Communism, the Nation, and Stalin in the 1970s West German Left” (see abstract below) by David Spreen, Doctoral Candidate in History, University of Michigan.

The paper is available on the European History Workshop CTOOLS site. For a copy of the paper and/or access to the site, email please email the workshop coordinators.

Location: 1014 Tisch Hall.

Dinner will be provided, as usual. Please RSVP so we know how much food to order!

“The year 1968 marks a watershed in West German historical memory. Student activists created a space for left-wing activism beyond Cold War politics, rejecting both capitalism in the West and what they perceived to be accommodation to imperialism in the Soviet bloc. This extra- parliamentary activism has become part of the origin myth of West German liberal democracy: by pointing to the vestiges of authoritarianism in West German culture, and attempting to come to terms with the Holocaust, the student left contributed to the liberalization of German political culture. Yet, following the collapse of the student movement in the late sixties, many of its former members returned to Marxism-Leninism, and, not rarely, to an embrace of Stalin for political options. On the one hand, the Left of the 1970s continued a critique of the “liberalism” of the Social Democratic Party. On the other hand, in the 1960s this critique took anti-authoritarian forms while in the 1970s the party-building projects of Marxism-Leninism indeed embraced anti-democratic political practices as well as an anti-democratic ideology. At the same time, the Lefts of the 1960s and 1970s both understood themselves as invested in a range of geopolitical struggles. In the 1960s, anti-capitalism was largely articulated through solidarity with anti-colonial struggles. But here again, the 1970s constituted a clear break. While the anti-authoritarian Left had supported national liberation abroad while remaining deeply suspicious of nationalism in Germany, the Left of the 1970s sought to recover a national heritage in the Weimar KPD. My dissertation seeks to understand these shifts in the context of German conversations about the past, the Cold War, and the climate of possibility and transformation of anti-colonial movements around the world. In this, this dissertation will contribute to the literature on postwar protest movements and the complex processes of democratization in West Germany.”

Wednesday, October 22nd: Alessio Ponzio

Please join the European History Workshop on Wednesday, October 22nd from 7-9pm for the following paper and discussion:

“Before and after the Balletti Verdi: Premises and Consequences of a Male Homosexual Scandal in 1960 Italy”

Alessio Ponzio
Doctoral Student in History and Women’s Studies
University of Michigan

The paper is available on the European History Workshop CTOOLS site. For a copy of the paper and/or access to the site please contact one of the workshop coordinators.

The event will be held in 2713 Haven Hall.

Dinner will be provided, as usual.

Please find an abstract of the paper below:

“In this paper, by examining magazines and newspapers published in 1960 and 1961, I will argue that, even if homosexuality was already an object of analysis, reflection, and condemnation before the Balletti Verdi scandal, and despite a neo-Fascist attempt to criminalize homosexuality ten months before the scandal burst (January 1960), what happened in Brescia (Lombardy) was a turning point. The scandal compelled “common” Italian people to talk and think about same-sex sexuality and persuaded a member of Parliament to propose the introduction of the most severe anti-homosexual law ever presented in Italy (April 1961). However, the introduction of a law against homosexuality would have made homosexuality even more visible. The Italian government under the Christian Democrats opted for silence, as it opted for silence during the Balletti Verdi scandal. The acceleration of the discursive production about same-sex sexualities caused a homo-hysteria that, apparently, the Democrazia Cristiana wanted to silence. The attitude of the Democrazia Cristiana toward homosexuality needs to be analyzed further. But, we might hypothesize that sinking any attempt to criminalize homosexuality was a way to defend the tolleranza repressiva strategy, to guarantee the supreme power of the Vatican about sexual morality, and to avoid the victimization of the homosexuals, not for Christian empathy, but to cast them into a harmless oblivion.”