rahden2Minority and Majority as Asymmetrical Concepts: The Perils of Democratic Equality and Fantasies of National Purity

Dienstag, 23. Juni 2015, 18:00 Uhr | Universität Innsbruck, Innrain 52d (Geiwi-Turm), Untergeschoss: Raum 4U102a

Englischsprachiger Vortrag mit Diskussion auf Deutsch.

In recent years, scholars in the humanities have helped us to understand how many of the terms that we use to negotiate the tension between equality and difference, between the universal and the particular are „essentially contested concepts.“ In contrast, the conceptual couple of majority/minority seems to transcend the polemics in controversies over equality and difference. Against this background, it is surprising to note that there is no study of the conceptual history of the term „minority“ let alone the twin concepts of „majority“ and „minority.” As a point of departure, scholars may start by exploring questions historians should have begun to study long ago, namely when, where and why it became seemingly self-evident to neatly compartmentalize societies and their history into a majority and minorities. The idea of a dichotomy between majority and minority as a short hand to describe relations between ethnic or religious groups is fairly recent, in fact it did not exist before 1919 when in the wake of World War I and the collapse of the Empires in continental Europe the idea of democracy and the idea of the homogeneous nation-state triumphed simultaneously.

Till van Rahden

Till van Rahden holds the Canada Research Chair in German and European Studies at the Université de Montréal. In 1993, he received an M.A. from The Johns Hopkins University, and in 1999, he completed his dissertation at the University of Bielefeld which was published in 2000 as Juden und andere Breslauer with Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht and received the "Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History". He has co-edited Juden, Bürger, Deutsche. Zur Geschichte von Vielfalt und Differenz 1800-1933 (Tübingen, 2001) and Demokratie im Schatten der Gewalt: Geschichten des Privaten im deutschen Nachkrieg (Göttingen, 2010). Recent and forthcoming publications include the essay "Clumsy Democrats: Moral Passions in the Federal Republic", German History 29 (2011): 485-504, and the book Civility and its Discontents: Jews and the Languages of Diversity in Central Europe, 1750 to 1933.


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