The meetings of the CES Dissertation Workshop offer graduate students at Harvard a collegial and stimulating environment in which to present their current research to peers and faculty interested broadly in the study of Europe. It is a student-run, student-centered project. Graduate students and faculty are encouraged to attend. Papers will be pre-circulated on the e-mail list. Refreshments will be served. Students attending the workshop will be entitled to dine for free at CES’s in-house, delicious Friday lunch. For location details and times, please consult the CES events calendar.
2017-2018 Dissertation Workshop Schedule
September 29, 2017: Brandon Bloch (History), "Conscientious Objection and the Revaluation of Resistance: West Germany, 1949-1961"
This paper is the fourth chapter of his dissertation, "Faith for This World: Protestantism and the Reconstruction of Constitutional Democracy in Germany, 1933-1968." The chapter shows how a network of Protestant theologians, jurists, and politicians in 1950s West Germany petitioned the federal government and constitutional court for an expansion of the right of conscientious objection to military service, beyond members of historically pacifist churches. Central to Protestant claims, I argue, was an ongoing reappraisal of the legacy of the resistance to the Nazi state, in particular the failed coup d'état of July 20, 1944 in which a number of conservative Protestants had participated. Resistance against National Socialism challenged the conventional boundary German Protestants drew between political and spiritual affairs, engendering debate about the proper scope of the church's political action in postwar West Germany.
October 13: Josh Ehrlich (History), "The Anglicist-Orientalist Controversy Revisited: Education and the Ends of the Company State in British India"
The "Anglicist-Orientalist Controversy" (1833-5) has long been considered a seminal episode in the history of British empire in South Asia. Its supposed outcome, associated in posterity with T. B. Macaulay's minute on education, was the decisive replacement of an eastward-facing ("Orientalist") cultural outlook with a westward-facing ("Anglicist") one among officials of the East India Company. Tracing the growth of British-Indian education policy from 1819, however, this paper argues that the larger significance of the controversy, and of debates over education before and after, lay in the gradual replacement of a politics of elite conciliation by one of mass education. The primary significance of education policy lay in facilitating the Company state's transformation into a territorial sovereign, divorced from old mercantile associations and deriving legitimacy from its supposed hold on Indian society at large.
November 17, 2017: Jamie McSpadden (History): “National Parliamentarians on the International Stage: Private Diplomacy and Political Cooperation in Interwar Europe”
This chapter examines interwar European parliamentarians’ private missions abroad as informal diplomats and analyzes the party-political and other deals they made across the continent. The chapter focuses on the specific case of the British Labour Party politician and Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald, as well as networks of interwar socialists and conservatives.
February 9, 2018: Andrew Bellisari (History): "Twelve Anxious Men: Re-Examning Algeria's Transition to Independence"
This chapter provides an overview of the Algerian War between November 1954 and March 1962 as well as a more detailed look at the four-month “transition period” between the signing of the Evian Accords in March 1962 and the referendum on Algerian independence in July 1962. This chapter will also discuss the months immediately following independence between July 1962 and the formation of the FLN-controlled National Assembly in September 1962. Throughout, this chapter examines the socio-political history of the Exécutif Provisoire (Provisional Executive), which the signatories of the Evian Accords established as a means to govern French Algeria (in concert with colonial authorities) until a referendum on self-determination could take place and, afterward, act as the caretaker government of a fully independent Algeria until elections could be held. Compared to processes of decolonization elsewhere, the Provisional Executive was a unique institution, as it represented an executive council of twelve men from both the colony’s European and Algerian Muslim communities and included members of the FLN (Front de Libération Nationale). Installed in the specially designed administrative complex of Rocher Noir located outside of the Algiers, these men worked around the clock for four months to hammer out the details of Algeria’s transition to independence and lay the ground work for the sovereign nation to come. Yet, little attention has been paid to the role that the Provisional Executive played in Algeria’s final chapter of decolonization. This is in part because the violence and uncertainty that marked the spring of 1962 has greatly overshadowed other events during the same period. Moreover, the Provisional Executive was quickly marginalized by the FLN immediately after independence. Nonetheless, by charting the day-to-day operations of the Provisional Executive, this chapter argues that far from being unprepared for the challenges of decolonization, French policymakers and their Algerian interlocutors were able to find common ground to ensure that a relatively peaceful transition to independence could take place.
March 2, 2018: Brandon Bloch (History): "Rechtsstaat or Revolution: Protestant Intellectuals and the New Left in 1960s West Germany"
This chapter examines the engagement of Protestant theologians and lay intellectuals in debates about the rights of resistance and revolution in 1960s West Germany. These debates exemplified the political reorientation of Protestant intellectuals who came of age in the 1930s and grappled with questions of the relationship between religious and political authority in the wake of National Socialism. By the mid-1960s, a group of veterans of the Nazi-era Confessing Church stood at the helm of a national opposition movement against the "emergency laws" (Notstandsgesetze), a set of constitutional amendments proposed by the conservative Christian Democratic government that would authorize the state to suspend constitutional basic rights in cases of a declared emergency. In contrast to more radical members of the emergent New Left, who sought to use campaigns against the emergency laws as a means of exposing the proto-fascist underpinnings of the West German state and thereby bring about its overthrow, Confessing Church veterans argued for the incorporation of a right of resistance into the West German constitution. For these Protestants, a willingness to engage in disobedience in defense of the rule of law and human rights appeared as a hallmark of democratic citizenship. This vision of citizenship would gain increasing prominence in West German political culture after the West German Bundestag introduced a constitutional right of resistance alongside its passage of the emergency legislation in May 1968. Protestant engagement in the campaign against emergency laws challenged the narrow conception of legitimate resistance dominant in postwar memory cultures, while helping to reconcile broad segments of the New Left to working within rather than against the West German state.
March 23, 2018: Yukako Otori (History): "Family Passports: Migration and Traffic in Children in the 1920s"
In the 1920s, the League of Nations promoted the standardization of passports. This paper will point out that the modern passport regime has not exempted children since its inception. At the same time, it has distinguished them from adults: Children were not necessarily assured the right to hold a passport of their own; Children could be included in the family passport of their parent, more exactly, that of their father. The system of family passports, however, remained uncriticized for most of the 1920s, when various actors discussed the desirable role and format of passports and other travel documents. At that time, humanitarians often supported the mandatory use of travel documents that would safeguard women and children against human trafficking. This paper will suggest that the system of family passports seemed useful to them as they addressed child protection in the context of family assistance.
April 13, 2018: Joshua Ehrlich (History): "Knowledge and the East India Company State, 1785-1795"
The last years of the eighteenth century have been seen as both a golden age of British Indological research and a period of intense political pressure on the East India Company. These were the years of the polymath William Jones's research in Sanskrit and Indo-Persian, the MP Edmund Burke's prosecution of former governor-general Warren Hastings, and the present governor-general Charles Cornwallis's overhaul of the Company's Bengal administration. The relations of these landmark developments with each other and with the politics of knowledge comprises the subject of this chapter.
External Funding Workshop
Each year, CES offers the Workshop on External Funding which discusses a range of external grants relevant for doctoral students in social sciences and looks into strategies for developing a strong proposal. In addition, it parses specific proposals, both successful and less effective, in an attempt to offer some hands-on tools for mastering the skill of successful proposal writing. In the past, CES graduate students who won some of the most competitive external grants have joined the student programs advisor and shared their insights and prose samples during the workshop.
To subscribe for workshop updates or to sign up as a presenter, contact the workshop organizers:
Past Dissertation Workshops
Dissertation Workshops 2016-2017
- September 23: Elizabeth Cross (History): "The Pen and the Sword: Visions of Revanche and the Problem of Company Governance in the French Indian Ocean"
- October 7: Tomasz Blusiewicz (History): “Überseehafen Rostock: East Germany’s Window to the World under Stasi Watch, 1961-1989”
- October 21: Rachel Friedman (Government): “The Collectivization of Risk and the Early Welfare State”
- November 4: Adriana Alfaro Altamirano (Government): “Adam Smith and Max Scheler on Sympathy”
- December 2: Jamie McSpadden (History): “A Radical Change? Female Parliamentarians’ Influence on European Politics, 1918-1940”
- December 9: Joshua Ehrlich (History): "Wellesley and the Politics of Fort William College"
- Feb. 17: Lydia Walker (History): "Politics of Plaint: Nagas, Namibians, and the United Nations System of the early 1960s"
- March 10: Kristen Loveland (History): “Replacing God: Reproductive Technologies in German Religious and Legal Thought in the 1980s”
- March 24: Liat Spiro (History): “Drafting Empire: American and German Capital Goods and the Mission Industrialisatrice in the Shandong-Kyushu Corridor, 1880-1914”
- April 7: Andrew Bellisari (History): “Yesterday’s Enemies: Decolonization and the Role of the Mixed Ceasefire Commissions in French Algeria”
- April 21: Brandon Bloch (History): “Institutionalizing Protestant Ethics: Families, Schools, and the West German Basic Law, 1949-1957
Dissertation Workshops 2015-2016
- October 23: Adriana Alfaro Altamirano (Government), “Great Expectations: Henri Bergson and the Morality of Uncertainty”
- November 6: Tae-Yeoun Keum (Government), “An Enlightenment Fable: Leibniz and the Boundaries of Reason”
- November 20: Elizabeth Cross (History), “The French Revolution of the Compagnie des Indes: 1789-1792”
- December 4: Lydia Walker (History), “In the Shadow of Katanga”
- February 26: John Harpham (Government), “From Freedom to Slavery”
- March 11: Colleen Anderson (History), “Cosmic Visitors: The Space Race in East and West Germany, 1957-1969”
- April 1: Guillaume Wadia (History), “The Deep State and the Imperial Spring, 1934-1937”
- April 15: Tomasz Blusiewicz (History), “Contraband, bribes, drugs and big bucks: Why was Solidarność born on the Polish Baltic Coast?”
- April 29: Jamie McSpadden (History), “Constructing and Contesting an Interwar Parliamentary International: The Inter-Parliamentary Union and Conférence parlementaire internationale du commerce”
Dissertation Workshops 2014-2015
- March 6: Kristen Loveland (History), "Reproducing Dignity: German and American Law and the Politics of Reproductive Technologies at the Millennium"
- March 27: Carolin F. Roeder (History), "Geographies of Alpine Knowledge: 1857-1932"
- April 6: Sarah Shortall (History), "The Weapons of the Spirit: Catholic Theology and the Resistance to Nazism"
- April 17: James R. Martin (History), "The Origins of International Economic Governance: Food, Finance, and Shipping during the First World War, 1916-1920"
- May 1: Mircea Raianu (History), "Between Paternalism and Technocracy: The Tata Iron and Steel Company and the Circulation of Expertise in the British Empire, 1900-1950"