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Research Seminar “Rethinking repertoires: how ordinary people conducted politics in the nineteenth century”

May 29 @ 08:00 - 17:00

Our seminar in Ghent on 19th-century popular politics and the ways in which ordinary people could shape the world around them is open for registration. Our starting point is the work of the eminent historical sociologist Charles Tilly, who put forth the idea of protest repertoiresLike street musicians, ordinary people resort to a limited amount of pre-written “scripts” to express their discontent, even though many other “tunes” seem possible in theory. This metaphor proved to be an intricate instrument for historical research, as it acknowledges both the creative agency of historical actors and the structuring determinants limiting their play.

Protest repertoires changed fundamentally during the 19th century. Strikes took the place of food riots, charivaris made way for demonstrations and tax rebellions left the stage for public meetings. Or at least, that is how the classic story goes. We wonder whether Tilly’s riot-to-demonstration thesis can withstand recent trends in political history. Historians have increasingly interchanged a national for a local or international perspective, adopted an everyday perspective instead of concentrating on major events, and broadened their understanding of what it means to “act political”. As a result of this shifting perspective, it becomes increasingly difficult to think about development in linear terms.

Recent historical studies have made our picture of popular politics and protest repertoires richer and more diverse, but also more disconnected than ever. This fragmentation begs the question if there is still a larger story to tell about the nature of “popular politics” in the 19th century. Our seminar wants to address this question by revisiting the work of the late Charles Tilly. In this seminar, we aim to confront his theories with recent developments in political history and vice versa. Two excellent keynote speakers will guide us through this difficult but rewarding topic: Maartje Janse (Leiden University) and Katarina Navickas (University of Hertfordshire). In addition, four other researchers will present their own empirical research.

On behalf of the Research School Political History, we warmly invite everyone to attend our meeting on the 29th of May in Ghent. For PhDs and RMA-students ECTS can be awarded.

For more information, please send an email to repertoires.revisited@gmail.com

Please register before 15 May 2020 by sending an email to bureau@onderzoekschoolpolitiekegeschiedenis.nl

All the best,

The organizing committee

Jasper Bongers, Martin Schoups, Dirk Jan Wolffram


May 29
08:00 - 17:00
Event Category:


University of Ghent