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“Between the Times”: Embattled Temporalities and Anti-Historicism in Interwar Europe

Final Report Summary - BETWEEN THE TIMES (“Between the Times”: Embattled Temporalities and Anti-Historicism in Interwar Europe)

“Between the Times”: Embattled Temporalities and Anti-Historicism in Interwar Europe,

This research project traces the intersections between anti-teleological temporal imagination(s) and changes in the way the human world and the methods for its study were reconceptualized in interwar European thought. Its primary emphasis is on junctions between different scholarly fields (theology, jurisprudence, classical studies, literary theory, linguistics, sociology, philosophy), as well as their interchanges with other creative fields. Secondly, the inquiry will focus on intellectual groupings, rather than individual authors, who produced an entire spectrum of essentially connected anti-historicist utterances that were highly expressive of the predicaments of the period. Thirdly, the project aims to challenge the sufficiency of the usual focus in interwar intellectual history on individual or two-three national contexts, by experimenting with a cross-European approach. Its sources include intellectual groupings in France, Britain, Germany, Russia, Czechoslovakia, and Romania – whose members, moreover, often moved across these national contexts.

What were the aims of these humanist and social thinkers in creating novel visions of time and historicity? What was the role of anti-historicist impulses in the construction of the crisis ubiquitously present in the interwar discourses? How were they communicated between a variety of scholarly fields and national contexts across inter-war Europe? How did their implications differ in different national contexts and why?

The project period was 01.01.2015-31.12.2015. Due to project shortening from 24 to 12 months not all the research objectives were achieved to the fullest (especially in terms of progress in writing). At the same time, there were significant advances in the fellow’s career, as she was offered and took up a permanent lectureship at the Politics Department, University of York.

The activities of the project included a detailed mapping of the state of art and research and analysis of the primary resources; presentations of research at University of Helsinki, University College London, Tallinn University, University of York, Pompeu Fabra University: website setup and related training activities; organising of an international workshop on internationalism in inter-war period “A new world order? Internationalism and legal imagination in inter-war Europe” with nine speakers from around the world (see programme:; preparing and conducting an MA-course “Ius ad bellum: theories of just war”; drafting of a research article “The New World” of Karl Barth and Weimar Political Theologies”; revision of research articles for conference presentations and for publication; participation at the ERC preparation workshop; outreach activities, such as writing historical contributions to the Estonian Film Database; 3 job applications and interviews.

The main results of the project were: 1) developing a distinctly cross-disciplinary and cross-disciplinary approach to twentieth century European intellectual history; 2) researching the political ideas and legacies of intellectual groupings such as dialectical theology and Free Jewish Study House in Germany, “Generation 27” in Romania, Prague Linguistic Circle; 3) the communication of the results of this research by presentations and publications; 4) the advancement of the research and other relevant skills of the fellow.

The fellow achieved her short-term career goals – was offered a permanent lectureship - and made significant advance in research, especially by collecting and researching many primary materials, and in their light revising the direction of the project.

The project needs to be continued in the coming years. The final results and their potential impact and use:
The fellow expects to be publishing the results of the research in the form of articles and eventually a book. These are seeking to reconstruct a detailed, synthetic and distinctly cross-disciplinary topology of the new temporal imagination and its implications in inter-war Europe. The book in particular will seek to challenge the sufficiency of the usual focus on singular or two-three national (usually “Western European”) contexts by exploring a truly transnational, cross-European approach in intellectual history. Also, the publications will contribute to the efforts to recover and critically re-examine the continuities and intersections between European present and inter-war history. In parallel, the fellow will continue communicating her work in different outreach activities, so that her rethinking the past can find a voice – alongside other similar efforts – in the present.

Contacts for the fellow:
Liisi Keedus
University of York
Department of Politics