German Historical Institute London

17 Bloomsbury Square
London WC1A 2NJ
United Kingdom

Phone: +44 (0)20 - 7309 2050
Fax: +44 (0)20 - 7309 2055 / 7404 5573


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Public Lectures

Leo Baeck Institute Lecture Series

Max Weber Lecture Series

Seminars - Spring 2020

17 March

Peter Burschel (Wolfenbüttel)
The Dance of the Tapuya: On the Cultural Coding of Skin Colour in the Early Modern Period

Peter Burschel is Professor of Medieval and Early Modern Cultural History at the University of Göttingen and Director of the Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel. Among his many publications is Die Erfindung der Wahrheit: Eine andere Geschichte der frühen Neuzeit (2014).

His talk will show how European perceptions of skin colour—rather than primarily of skin markings, as had been the case in the Middle Ages—increasingly began to influence European perceptions of non-European ‘aliens’. He will argue that it was only during the sixteenth century that skin was seen as a ‘supra-individual’ distinguishing characteristic that made it possible to structure, classify, and, not least, to hierarchize intercultural encounters chromatically. This shows that the process was not merely about the perception of skin colour per se, but always also addressed the question of who was white, and who was not.

28 April

Samita Sen (Cambridge)
Making Coolies: Labour Brokerage and the Tea Industry in India, 1830–1930

Samita Sen is Vere Harmsworth Professor in Imperial and Naval History at Cambridge University. Her monograph on women’s employment in the jute industry in colonial Bengal (1999) won the Trevor Reese Prize in Commonwealth History. In 2016 she published the jointly written Domestic Days and edited Passage to Bondage.

Her presentation will focus on recruitment of labour for the Assam tea industry. It will be argued that recruitment for plantations in colonial India gave rise to institutions and agencies which became separate businesses in themselves. They maintained close links with the industry for which they supplied labour, but these two interests were not convergent since the recruiting agencies’ profitability depended on their ability to leverage the buyers. Moreover, the commercial brokerage of labour, which expanded its net across the country, drew into its profitable sway a vast network of recruiters at different levels as well as whole sets of social relationships and institutions.

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Seminars are held at 5.30 p.m. in the Conference Room of the German Historical Institute (unless indicated otherwise). Tea is available from 5.00 p.m. in the Common Room, and wine is served after the lectures.

Guided tours of the Library are available before each seminar at 4.30 p.m.

Previous Seminars

Public Lectures 2020

20 February

Stefanie Schüler-Springorum (Berlin)
Sex and Violence: Race Defilement in Nazi Germany

GHIL in co-operation with the Modern German History Seminar, Institute of Historical Research, University of London

Stefanie Schüler-Springorum studied modern history, ethnology, and political science at the universities of Göttingen and Barcelona, and received her Ph.D. from the University of Bochum in 1993. She was Director of the Institute for German-Jewish History and Professor at Hamburg University from 2001 to 2011; Head of the German branch of the Leo Baeck Institute from 2009; and since 2011 she has been Director of the Center for Research on Antisemitism in Berlin.

This talk will look at the entanglement of antisemitism, gender, sexuality, and emotion in Nazi Germany. It will focus on Nazi Germany’s violent practices and dynamics, which encompassed other forms of resentment and hostility, but treated men and women conspicuously differently in each case, as can be shown in the race defilement propaganda and persecution of the 1930s and 1940s. The paper will argue that the peculiar ambivalence of these cases was inherent in the attraction of Nazi propaganda and deterrence at the same time.

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11 March

Cornelius Torp (Bremen)
Speculation and Gambling in Germany and Britain around 1900

GHIL in co-operation with the Faculty of History, University of Oxford

The worldwide economic crisis since 2007 is not the first time that financial speculation has been accused of resembling a casino game. The dividing line between speculation and gambling has always been fragile and contested. The debate about the legitimation of certain types of speculation and their resemblance to games of chance enjoyed a heyday around 1900, in both Germany and Britain. Around this time, the anti-gambling movement reached its apogee in both countries and resulted in the legal prohibition of various forms of gambling. At the same time, new financial instruments opened up space for speculative transactions on a hitherto unseen scale. From a comparative perspective, the lecture tries to bring these two strands together and traces how politicians and journalists, economists and speculators strove to draw a line between honourable economic activity and illicit wagering.

Cornelius Torp is Professor of Modern History at the University of Bremen. He recently served as the DAAD Hannah Arendt Visiting Chair of German and European Studies at the University of Toronto and was a Research Fellow at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS) and a Marie Curie Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence. He has published widely on modern German and European history, the history of globalization, the history of the welfare state, and the history of gambling.

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12 March

Jenny Pleinen (German Historical Institute London)
The Landed Gentry in British Politics after World War ii: From Taxed Decadence to Subsidized Cultural Heritage

GHIL in co-operation with the Modern German History Seminar, Institute of Historical Research, University of London

Jenny Pleinen is a Research Fellow in Modern History at the GHIL. She received a Ph.D. in history for her study of Western European migration regimes after the Second World War. Her current research concerns the political economy of government redistribution in Britain since the middle of the nineteenth century.

Her lecture will focus on the period after the Second World War, when the landed gentry’s image in British politics underwent a fundamental reconfiguration, with demands for higher taxation losing momentum and a bipartisan consensus for public subsidies emerging. The lecture explores how this change came about and what role the invention of the ‘stately home’ as a key feature of British cultural heritage played in it.

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Leo Baeck Institute Lecture Series London, 2019-20

Acting Jewish: Between Identity and Attire

Full details are available here.

Max Weber Lecture Series

The Max Weber Lectures are a part of a series of lectures related to the themes of the research projects of the India Branch Office. Well-known experts from any of the research themes of the IBO are specially invited to India to share their expertise with project partners and other researchers in India.

Full details are available here.