The 1970s in Europe: A Transnational Turn for Political Cultures
Rome, 25–26 May 2017
THE 1970S IN EUROPE:
A TRANSNATIONAL TURN FOR POLITICAL CULTURES?
This workshop will focus on a crucial concept and a periodisation: if we accept the postulate that the second half of the 20th century was marked by various forms of ‘transnationalisation’ of European political cultures, did the 1970s represent a turning point in this major phenomenon?
The answer to this question is not self-evident. In recent years, social science researchers have mainly emphasised the political effects of globalisation and the acceleration of European integration beginning in the 1980s/1990s, whereas historians have insisted on the transnational character of the 1960s protest movements. Thus, the 40th anniversary of 1968 was an occasion for numerous scientific conferences and publications about the ‘Global 1968’, building on strong scientific foundations to reconnect with the early intuition of a global youth uprising (as suggested by George Paloczy-Horvath’s Youth Up in Arms). The 1970s, caught between these two milestone periods of contemporary upheaval, have apparently been neglected – at least from this standpoint. Yet some specific characteristics of the 1970s warrant our attention. The early part of the decade was indisputably a continuation of the ‘1968 years’ or the ‘long 1968’, and more broadly, the waning of the period of strong growth that had begun after the Second World War – despite certain already notable imbalances. A major trend reversal became apparent with the first oil shock in 1973. This ushered in a long cycle of crises and reconfigurations – economically and socially, but also politically and culturally – that we may not have truly left behind even today. In any case, we could legitimately regard 1979 as a temporary and convenient endpoint for this transitional period: the second oil shock, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Euromissile crisis, the first election of the European Parliament by universal suffrage, and Margaret Thatcher’s victory in Great Britain, all set the tone for the 1980s.
The workshop will first investigate whether or not this ‘long’ decade (i.e. 1968-1979, with a certain chronological flexibility depending on the specific topics being discussed) saw the formation of transnational networks, the transfer and circulation of ideas, political actors or symbols (from the French Socialist Party’s ‘rose in a fist’ to the tricolour flame of Italy’s MSI, or even the Danish ‘Nuclear power? No thanks!’ logo), that reflected or contributed to a ‘transnationalisation’ of the political cultures of the different countries. Potential subjects include not just party structures, but also social movements, unions, associations and NGOs from ‘civil society’ (insofar as these organisations raised political issues or presented themselves as ‘political’ actors); major parliamentary groups, as well as informal or marginal ‘movements’ (‘autonomes’ in France, the 1977 movement in Italy, alternativist groups); the beginnings of party transnational federations ahead of the 1979 European elections (in the cases where these movements were not simply agreements between national party leaders); unsuccessful experiments (Eurocommunism, the attempt to bring together Southern European socialist parties, etc.); or the nascent stages of a ‘transnationalisation’ of national political parties (e.g. the Italian Partito Radicale).
The second question that we wish to investigate during the workshop is whether (and if so, to what extent) 1970s European political cultures elaborated concepts, utopias and symbols that envisioned an end to the national framework. If so, did they refer to intellectual theories or political experiences from other countries? Examples would include the predominance of human rights over state powers and the right of humanitarian intervention; the notion of the end of the nation-state and the idea of a rising European – or even global – society facing the same problems and challenges (the environment, quality of life, control over multinational firms, disarmament, migrations, the place of work within society, grassroots democratic participation, recognition of ‘differences’, etc.); the emphasis on new transnational divides, such as women’s rights.
The answers to these questions are not necessarily affirmative: there may very well have been other processes or developments running contrary to ‘transnationalisation’, that could have represented a step backward compared to the 1960s. The workshop will also investigate how the notion of transnationalisation of political cultures may be questioned and placed in context.
Lastly, the workshop is focused on analysing the political cultures of Western Europe (as the Cold War continued during this period, between the détente and renewed tensions), but transnationalisation will obviously also involve the circulation of ideas, people and political practices from the other side of the Iron Curtain, which had become more porous than previously (see the Czechoslovak dissidence, Solzhenitsyn, the ‘Yugoslav self-management model’), as well as from the United States (from the ‘New American Revolution’ praised in 1972 in France by Jean-François Revel as a ‘model’ for the future global revolution, to the early stages of the neoliberal ‘conservative revolution’).
LUISS-Guido Carli University, Rome
Thursday 25 May and Friday 26 May 2017
French and English
Lucia Bonfreschi (LUISS-Guido Carli University, Rome), Frank Georgi (CHS, University Paris 1–Panthéon Sorbonne), Giovanni Orsina (LUISS-Guido Carli University, Rome), Benoît Tadié (Institut français Italia, French Embassy in Rome)
HOW TO SUBMIT A PROPOSAL:
Proposals for papers to be presented at the workshop should be sent by email to both Lucia Bonfreschi: firstname.lastname@example.org and Frank Georgi: email@example.com. The deadline for all submissions is 30 October 2016.
Each proposal should consist of a single document (in PDF, Word or RTF format), containing:
– Your name and your home institution
– The title of your paper and an abstract of around 2,500 characters (including spaces), in either French or English
– A brief CV (one page maximum), in either French or English
The results of the selection process will be communicated in mid-December 2016.
The workshop’s organisers will cover accommodation (one night in a hotel) in Rome and travel expenses (within the limits of the budget) for panellists selected to present at the workshop.
After the workshop, the organisers plan to publish some of the contributions. Therefore, one of the main selection criteria is the originality of the proposal.