Decades of Reconstruction

03.–04.05.2013, Conference, University of Toronto

"Decades of Reconstruction – Postwar Societies, Economics, and International Relations, from the 18th to the 20th Century"

Conveners: Ute Planert (University of Wuppertal / University of Toronto) and James Retallack (University of Toronto)
Keynote Speaker: James J. Sheehan (Stanford)
Sponsored by German Historical Institute, Washington, D.C.; The Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto; German Academic Exchange Service, Bonn; and other co-sponsors.

The study of war and warfare through the centuries has generated increasing scholarly attention over the last years. In the resulting literature, historians have tended to focus on pre-war settings, war experiences, and the influence of war memories on national identities. Yet, despite the well-known case of the post-1945 period, it is only recently that scholars working in the field of the so-called "New Military History" have discovered the study of post-war epochs as times of reconstruction and thus as a rewarding fields of historical inquiry.

More often than not, wars between nation-states were accompanied or followed by internal conflict, social disruption, or even civil war. Thus post-war settings can be viewed as times of transition and the negotiation of power on various levels. States strive for economic reconstruction and social integration, but they also face struggles over the reallocation of domestic power and the redistribution of international influence. This conference aims at considering domestic politics and foreign policy as interdependent spaces of reconstruction. It does so by examining attempts to overcome internal conflict and devastation in the light of parallel efforts to (re)enter the international arena and reassess European and global power relations. Its premise is that distinct types of warfare, on the one hand, and diverging strategies for reconstruction and reconciliation, on the other, have together had immense impact on the shape of postwar societies. Examining postwar decades of reconstruction from the Seven Years War to the 1950s, conference participants will also consider whether, and to what extent, postwar politics were influenced by losing or winning the previous war.

This conference aims to unite academics focusing on the immediate aftermath of wars that ended in 1763, 1814/1815, 1865/1866/1871, 1918, and 1945. Combining thematic and chronological approaches will facilitate a genuinely comparative analysis and will generate new insights in reconstructing postwar contexts in Central and Western Europe as well as in North America.

The language of the conference is English.

DHI Washington