War and Peace
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has trampled on the principle of national
sovereignty, disrupted trade and food security, upended the EU’s decarbonization efforts, and
triggered a sharp reduction of cultural budgets to finance the building up of military capacities
across European countries. We have invited historians and cultural scholars to grapple with the
political, economic, and cultural implications of this war, and understand its longer prehistory.
All events will go 4:30-6pm.
Mario Daniels (October 5, 2022): “U.S. Foreign Policy and the New (?) Geopolitics of Technology”
Technological leadership is a key resource of U.S. power projection in the international system.
Institutions, regulations and practices of sharing and denying technology are powerful
instruments of U.S. diplomacy not least vis-à-vis enemies in times of war (currently Russia) and
strategic rivals like China. Our session will have a closer look at the principles and mechanisms
of technology regulation, will analyze their crucial role for waging (economic) war, and will
place them in their complex historical context since World War I.
Mario Daniels is DAAD Professor at the Duitsland Instituut Amsterdam. He is a historian
specializing in the history of science and technology in the twentieth century.
Robert Gerwarth (February 27, 2023) Europe’s Wars in the (very long) Twentieth Century, 1912-2022
In 2003, the US policy analyst Robert Kagan made an interesting claim: reflecting on mainland Europe’s reluctance to militarily support the US invasion of Iraq, he noted that Americans “are from Mars”, while Europeans “are from Venus”.
Historically minded observers pointed out at the time that there was a simple explanation for European attitudes to war: over the course of the twentieth century, Europe had been at the epicentre of two world wars that killed some 100 million people while all major European powers (except Germany and Italy) had been engaged in drawn-out and extremely violent wars of decolonization in the decades after 1945.
This lecture will offer an analysis of the myriad wars that were fought in Europe (and by European states in the colonial realm) over the course of the twentieth century, broadly defined. By moving beyond the traditional emphasis on Western European experiences it will become clearer that war had a near uninterrupted presence in Europe during this period, be it in the form of actual armed conflict or debates about how to prevent the actualization of violence. The lecture will also explore the deeper historical roots of present-day conflicts – from Ukraine to other continuous hotspots of conflicts (such as the Middle East) that had long been shaped by Western meddling.
Caren Kaplan (April 13, 2023): “Aerial Infrastructures: No-Fly Zones and Atmospheric Politics”
The air above our heads is an element that we all seemingly share–a space of freedom. But the
way that this universal and increasingly vulnerable element becomes perceived as
territory—linked to private, public, governmental, military, civil, industrial or commercial
interests—is a story entangled with the histories of cartography, meteorology, aviation, urbanism
and the built environment, among other things. The no-fly zone—which is so often touted as a
humanitarian tactic— must be considered instead as a powerful example of militarist
territorialization and policing in the service of atmospheric politics.
Caren Kaplan is Professor of American, Cultural Studies, and Science and Technology Studies at
the University of California, Davis. Her most recent book is Aerial Aftermaths: Wartime from
For more information, please contact email@example.com
This event is supported by the Michael C. Olshausen lecture fund.