In October 2010 a group of historians met at the Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung in Potsdam for an exploratory workshop called ‘Intimate Internationalism: Women Transforming the Political in Postwar Europe’ organised by Celia Donert (ZZF) and Janou Glencross (Leibniz Universität Hannover), with a keynote lecture by Victoria de Grazia (Columbia University).
In the aftermath of the mass killing and unspeakable violence of the Second World War, European states and societies struggled not only to reconstruct families, communities and nations in the hope of achieving peace, stability and eventually, prosperity, but also to establish international norms and institutions that would serve the competing interests of new political, economic and social orders. Gender relations provide a crucial site for exploring the possibilities and limitations offered by European reconstruction on the international, as well as the national, level. Most existing studies of postwar European women’s or gender history are based on local or national case studies and are focused disproportionately on the western half of the continent.
This workshop, which was funded by the Gerda Henkel Stiftung and the Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung, aimed to break new ground by exploring the gendered dimension of international politics, norms and institutions in both eastern and western Europe, as well as the ways in which transnational women’s movements responded to changes in international politics from 1945 to the mid-1960s, a period that studies of transnational women’s organizing have tended to ignore as an era of alleged female political apathy. Particular attention during the two-day workshop was paid to entanglements and transfers across ideological and geographical divides – above all, between East and West Europe during the Cold War.
The workshop report and programme are online (click the words to link to them). We will continue our ideas and discussions through further projects in the future, and we would very much like to hear from anyone working on related themes.
Celia Donert (email@example.com) and Janou Glencross (firstname.lastname@example.org).