Conf/CfP - A System Without Anger and Fondness? Emotions in the Age of Bureaucracy, 15-16 September 2016, Germnay

Publish Date: Mar 09, 2016

Deadline: Apr 04, 2016

Event Dates: from Sep 15, 2016 12:00 to Sep 16, 2016 12:00

This two-day conference aims at bringing together graduate students and post-docs who are engaged with the intersections of emotions and bureaucracy in order to present their research projects and discuss the opportunities (and limits) of a cultural history of bureaucracy from the perspective of the history of emotions.

Since the late 19th century systems of bureaucracy have expanded increasingly and have come to regulate ever more aspects of daily life. Criticism of the increasing bureaucratization of social life emerged in tandem with these developments. Attached to this dominance of bureaucratic rules and regulations was the popular image that bureaucracyis a formalized and rational form of societal governance devoid of any emotional content. Nonetheless, the bureaucracy is an important sphere of interaction in modern society, in which transformations in the affective relation between state and citizens are negotiated and put into practice, as Peter Becker has emphasized in his work.

Bureaucracy has produced lots of ‘paperwork’ and an increasing amount of historians is making use of these sources in their research. The conference focuses on the interpretation of bureaucratic sources and aims to find new alternatives of interpreting them by focusing on the emotional aspects of these sources. The organisers are interested in gaining knowledge on the emotional norms for the interactions between state and citizen and their transgression; the varyingemotional experiences of people affected by bureaucratic procedures; as well as the way that ‘emotion knowledge’ was included in the formulation of bureaucratic rules and regulations.

In the context of the conference, we will use the concept of bureaucracy not only in a narrow way as ‘state bureaucracy’, but we are also interested in its contextual implementations; for example in the bureaucratization of economy, science and/or civil society. Promising contexts/spaces in which the interaction between emotions and bureaucracy can be discussed are 

  • the formation of welfare apparatuses,
  • the bureaucratization of the work space
  • regulations in hospitals and schools
  • persecution and registration of criminals
  • regulations within civil society organizations  

We invite submissions from graduate students and post-docs working on the history of bureaucracy in the 19th and 20th century. We particularly encourage proposals from students who are working on a global perspective, engaging with fields of colonization and imperial biographies.

Graduate students and Post-Docs interested in participating in this conference can send a proposal of no more than 500 words and a short CV by 4 April 2016. Presentations should be no longer than 20 minutes.The conference will be held in English. Please send the proposal to:

The Max Planck Institute for Human Development will contribute towards accommodation and travel expenses for participants, who do not have the opportunity to receive travel funding, but we ask to seek alternate sources of funding beforehand.

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