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From Planning to Crisis Management? Time, Futures, and Politics in West Germany and Britain from the 1960s to the 1980s

24-26 March 2011

Convenor: Dr Elke Seefried, Augsburg/Munich

Venue: German Historical Institute London

A dynamic research landscape on the history of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s developed in West Germany and Britain. It is striking that this research highlighted categories such as ‘modernization’, ‘optimism’ and ‘planning’ for the 1960s, ‘crisis (management)’ for the 1970s and versions of laissez-faire politics for the 1980s. A conference of the German Historical Institute London will open up this field for comparative research, discussing the different and interconnected conjunctures of optimism and crisis perception, of planning, crisis management and laissez-faire politics in West Germany and Britain from the 1960s to the 1980s. It will scrutinize how political perceptions of time, ideas of the future, and the conceptions and politics of planning changed, and how this was tied up with a crisis of the ideas of ‘modernization’ and ‘progress’. The intention is to question ‘decline’ and ‘crisis’ as specific ‘adoptions’ of the future and as narratives. The conference will therefore examine to what extent the crisis was anticipated and (ex post) constructed, and how it was perceived by contemporaries. Focusing on West Germany and Britain, the conference will also integrate European and transatlantic perspectives. It will be open for the discussion of initial theses and the questioning of narratives (the ‘optimism’ of the 1960s, British ‘decline’, the ‘crisis’ and ‘crisis-management’ of the 1970s), and is intended to bring together German and British historians in a fruitful dialogue.

Conference programme (PDF file)
Conference report (PDF file), published in: GHIL Bulletin 33 (2011), Vol 2