Inventing the "Silent Majority": Conservative Mobilization in Western Europe and the United States in the 1960s and 1970s


April 18-20, 2013
German Historical Institute, Washington, DC


Silent Majority Keynote Postcard
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Anna von der Goltz (Georgetown University, Washington DC), Britta Waldschmidt-Nelson (GHI)

Click here to read the program. 

Click here to read the final report in English or click here to read it in German.

In Western Europe and the United States – in popular memory and historiography – the years around 1968 remain inextricably linked to left-wing protest, youth rebellion, and long-term social, political, and cultural change. The simultaneously occurring mobilization and realignment on the other side of the political dividing line that lasted into the early 1980s has received scholarly attention only more slowly, particularly on the European side. The discernible long-term impact of the sixties culture wars on US politics and the pivotal role this decade played in the development of the Republican Party have turned the history of conservative movements into one of the most thriving areas of research in US history in recent years. Historians of modern Europe, by contrast, are only just discovering the ‘other side’ of the 1960s. Even US scholars, however, have primarily investigated the history of conservative mobilization through a national lens. And yet, the ‘silent majority’ became the rallying cry of a plethora of conservative groups on both sides of the Atlantic.

In bringing together scholars from Western Europe and the United States, the three-day conference seeks to foster historical comparison and a transatlantic dialogue that will help participants test prevailing assumptions, develop new perspectives, and ask fresh questions of their material.


Ideas of Conservatism
Political Parties and Conservative Mobilization
The Rise of Christian Conservatism
Conservative Media Strategies
Civil Rights, Decolonization, and the Conservative Backlash
Populist Housewives, New Fathers, and Conservative Gender Constructions
Cultures and Legacies of Conservatism

The conference was made possible through funding from the BMW Center for German and European Studies at Georgetown University, the German Historical Institute, Washington, DC, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), and the French Embassy in Washington, DC.