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2. Practices and political cultures

2. Practices and political cultures

Research Area 2 explores the notion of political culture by way of a detailed and differentiated approach. We are interested in the intellectual and ideological aspects of political cultures in Europe, which can be national as well as specific to political models or families. We also study various practices by concentrating our attention on two areas in which politics operate, namely questions relating to citizenship and peace. 

The research is structured into four thematic groups:

2.1 Political Ideas, the History of Knowledge Systems: Circulation and Transfers

In keeping with research on the internationalization of the European and American radical right during the twentieth century, we will apply the study of circulations, networks, and transfers to different scales, individual figures, movements, and political regimes. With respect to this final point, emphasis will be placed on corporatism, planning, and technocracy. Collectively this will lead to a general reflection on political and institutional models, and their comparison on a national, European, and transatlantic scale. For the intellectual history of scientific paradigms and discursive strategies in twentieth-century Europe, we will explore the underlying influence of philosophical anthropology in restructuring systems of knowledge, notably after 1945 with critical theory. For that matter, German modernization (1871-1914) and alternative projects for modernity in Germany call for an interdisciplinary study of both critical reactions and proposals for a return to nature, with extensions into the 1960s.

2.2 Political Cultures, Identities, and Imaginations

A first section will explore the representation of identities for the self and others through popular illustrated reviews, with the submission of a French National Research Agency (ANR) project on the mediatization of information and the formation of public opinion in France and Germany (1890-1945). In addition to an analysis of the political imaginary through discourses on the enemy, our reflections will focus on press illustrations as a source for the human and social sciences from 1890 to the present. A second section studies emotions in international relations, with particular emphasis on the Cold War period. We explore both the role that emotions play in the stability of how identity is represented during threatening times, as well as a globalization of “emotional systems” on the European scale. Finally, specific research will be conducted on “conspiracy theory” and its contemporary variants.

2.3 Political and Citizenship Practices, from the National to the Supranational

Revisiting criticism of democracy in various European countries during the interwar period—from a comparative perspective combining intellectual history and discourse analysis—helps frame the question of how to define democratic practices during moments of potential populist, authoritarian, and fascist tendencies. Running up to the present day, this reflection on the forms of civil and political representation will continue the one initiated with the project on the European public sphere, especially by establishing a dialogue between the notions of “recognition” (Honneth) and “responsibility,” understood as the existence within civilian life of attitudes, behaviors, and procedures considered to be the conditions for non-deteriorated communication (Habermas). The study of limit practices such as recommendation, corruption, and the rise of transparency, which was the subject of an ANR/DFG project (Histrans), will place political actors at the heart of the issue. 

2.4 Practices and Culture of Peace

While the mass violence experienced by Europe during the twentieth century has been central to the great deal of historical research conducted in recent decades, the role of peace practices and imaginaries in the history of modern Europe cannot be neglected. Far from being “the absence of war,” peace is simultaneously a project and a construction to which Europeans have greatly contributed, from hopes for “peace through law” to the development of multilateral institutions. Going beyond a history of pacifist movements, our approach will favor the variety of peace practices implemented in European societies (arbitration, disarmament, cooperation, reconciliation, etc.), and will explore the existence of a European “culture of peace.”