Extending the Comparative Frame of ‘Everyday Life History’ Approaches (to Dictatorship, Colonial and Illiberal Regimes): Southern Europe, Southern Africa, South America – CALL FOR PAPERS

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Date / time: 26 January, All day

University of St Andrews

Extending the Comparative Frame of ‘Everyday Life History’ Approaches (to Dictatorship, Colonial and Illiberal Regimes): Southern Europe, Southern Africa, South America - CALL FOR PAPERS


Workshop | 26-28 June 2024 | University of St Andrews

Call for Papers, deadline – 26 January 2024

This workshop is intended to showcase the research that has been, and is being, undertaken to explore everyday life and the lived experience of dictatorial, colonial, authoritarian, illiberal regimes in Southern Europe, Africa and America and to generate discussion of the possibilities and practicalities of extending the comparative frame of ‘everyday life’ histories, often dominated by historical approaches originating in Europe and European historiography, such as Alltagsgeschichte, ‘history from below’, and microhistory.

Historical approaches seeking to uncover how European 20th century dictatorships worked in practice by examining not only how these were constructed “from above” but also how it they were shaped, practiced and experienced subjectively “from below” were pioneered by West German Alltagsgeschichte historians of Nazi Germany in the 1980s and 1990s, most notably the late Alf Lüdtke and Detlev Peukert, as well as by historians working in other contexts, like Sheila Fitzpatrick and her formative work on Stalinist Russia. Everyday life-influenced historians focus attention on individual human actors, practices and questions of agency and subjectivity, scrutinising the “contexts and miniatures” (Lüdtke) of dictatorial society.

Over the past decade and a half the influence of Alltagsgeschichte and ‘everyday life’ history approaches, often in concert with Italian microhistory and Anglophone ‘history from below’, has been extended, first to Fascist Italy and to colonial and illiberal regimes in East Asia and more recently to other Southern European dictatorships, especially Francoist Spain, but also Salazar’s Portugal and Greece under the Colonels. Meanwhile, historians and histories have long engaged with analogous question of subjectivity, experience, practice, agency, and space and with complex source bases in the context of historical dictatorships, colonial and other illiberal regimes in South America and Southern Africa (as well as elsewhere).

The workshop aims to bring together historians working in and on these three regions (Latin America; Southern Africa; Southern Europe) in order to discuss our shared and diverging interests, methodologies, concepts and sources. We hope to find common ground in a shared commitment to exploring the ‘everyday’ not as an apolitical backdrop or source of benign anecdotal narrative, but as a crucial ‘unit of experience’ of dictatorial, colonial or illiberal rule and in our identifying the ‘everyday’ as a supremely political arena: arguably, the principal space in which populations encountered the state; in which power relations are effectively constituted, negotiated and instituted ‘on the ground’; in which dictatorial/colonial/illiberal regimes may be potentially both ‘made’ and ‘un-made’. We aim to raise questions, encourage dialogue and debate, and stimulate continued and further research. Please note this will be an in-person event.

The workshop is hosted by the ERC-funded research project, ‘Dictatorship as experience: A comparative history of everyday life and the ‘lived experience’ of dictatorship in Mediterranean Europe (1922-1975)’, led by PI Professor Kate Ferris. Participants in the workshop will have the costs of their travel to, and accommodation in, St Andrews covered by the project. As such, places are limited; we are sorry that we likely will not be able to invite all those who submit proposals.

If you would be interested in participating in, and presenting at the workshop, please send a 500-word paper proposal to the project’s events and media assistant, Islay Shelbourne at: edworkshop@st-andrews.ac.uk

Deadline for submission of paper proposals: Friday 26 January 2024.

For more information on the workshop and hosting-project, see: https://arts.st-andrews.ac.uk/everyday-dictatorship/