07.07.2016 - 08.07.2016

Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut Essen (KWI), Gartensaal, Goethestr. 31, 45128 Essen

International Workshop

Occupied Societies in Western Europe: Conflict and Encounter in the 20th Century

The history of Western Europe in the first half of the 20th Century was shaped by numerous contradictions: by conflicts and interdependencies, proximity and distance, violence and cooperation. Many of these elements can be identified in the structures and dynamics of Western European societies under German occupation. After all, the relationship between occupiers and the occupied cannot simply be reduced to “collaboration” and “resistance”, in contrast to the suggestions of an older historiography. Rather, the physical and regulatorypresence of the occupier was accompanied by a great variety of transnational encounters, and by both contacts and conflicts between the occupiers and the occupied.

Furthermore, occupation also impacted upon the internal fabric of the occupied societies, going hand-in-hand with specific societal experiences, creating both opportunities for and constraints upon action, transforming daily routines and undermining long-established social certainties. In Western Europe in particular, the structures and scope of these interactions between occupier and occupied, as well as those within the occupied societies themselves, were often fundamentally influenced by forms of hybrid statehood, as the (nation-)state and its agencies were now operating under German supervision. A focus on occupation therefore provides a key to the historical understanding of wartime Western Europe, one capable of unlocking both the strangeness, confrontation and violent border crossings in these years, and also the encounters, hopes, and new opportunities that presented themselves.


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