Conference: Welfare State and Violence. Comparative Perspectives on Western and Eastern Europe since the 1950s, 23.-25.01.2020, Konstanz

Pavel Kolár, Chair of History of Eastern Europe, Univ. of Konstanz
Time: 23.-25.01.2020
Venue: Konstanz
This conference explores the role of state violence in European ‘peaceful times’ from the mid-1950s to the turn of the century, seeking to take issue with the optimistic accounts according to which violence was gradually disappearing during this period.
Our overall goal is to develop a comparative perspective on the transformation of state power across the Iron Curtain through the lens of violence. We will challenge the fact that three decades after the fall of the Iron Curtain a great deal of history writing continues to use the bipolar Cold War perspective (East and West, Democracy and Dictatorship etc.). Our contention is that the differences in the ways that state domination was justified should not hinder comparison, as even dictatorships require a legal framework and some degree of legitimacy.
The conference seeks to trace and bring to the surface modes of domination that have often remained outside the success story of the peaceful second half of the 20th century, but in fact continue to have a crucial impact on contemporary Europe. We will attempt to weave the scattered research on past European violence into a more coherent picture that has the potential to substantially affect the debates on the memory of the 20th century.
We start from the mid-1950s because it was then that states could finally reclaim their monopoly over physical violence as the post-war chaos was largely overcome. It is the decisive turning point for the legitimising role of violence, when both capitalist and socialist states began to increasingly define themselves against the negative yardstick of the violent past that encompassed fascism, war, genocide and Stalinism. It was also in the mid-1950s that the welfare state in the West took off, while in the East … read more and source (Web).