HomeTown Twinning in Europe

Town Twinning in Europe

Les jumelages en Europe

Städtepartnerschaften in Europa

Concepts and Praxis of Rapprochement during the 20th Century

Conceptions et pratiques du rapprochement au XXe siècle

Konzepte und Praxis von Annäherung im 20. Jahrhundert

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Published on Wednesday, October 29, 2014 by João Fernandes

Summary

Today there are almost 20,000 communal partnerships across Europe. In fact, they have become somewhat of a mass phenomenon since the 1960s. Despite this impressive development, historical research has shown little devotion to this particular form of international relations. Its detailed analysis, however, allows special insight into the participation of “common citizens” in international initiatives and international exchange in a communal setting. The goal of the conference is to depict the history of town twinning by challenging the concept and definition thereof. City partnerships have particularly developed in the context of bilateral rapprochement after the Second World War, the European Integration and the Cold War. Since the collapse of the Soviet bloc, they have also become a symbol for a Europe of civil partnership “from below”. Furthermore, they do not only play an important role in Europe and its relations with its neighbors, but through globalization, ultimately with the rest of the world.

Announcement

Argument

Today there are almost 20,000 communal partnerships across Europe. In fact, they have become somewhat of a mass phenomenon since the 1960s. Despite this impressive development, historical research has shown little devotion to this particular form of international relations. Its detailed analysis, however, allows special insight into the participation of “common citizens” in international initiatives and international exchange in a communal setting. The goal of the conference is to depict the history of town twinning by challenging the concept and definition thereof. City partnerships have particularly developed in the context of bilateral rapprochement after the Second World War, the European Integration and the Cold War. Since the collapse of the Soviet bloc, they have also become a symbol for a Europe of civil partnership “from below”. Furthermore, they do not only play an important role in Europe and its relations with its neighbors, but through globalization, ultimately with the rest of the world. How do European partnerships develop in the context of international relations: Are international developments reflected on the communal level, or do those partnership maintain a certain degree of autonomy giving them a transnational dimension through the expression of interpersonal solidarity? Besides the local authorities responsible for town twinning, what other actors can be identified? What are the strategies of the often competing citizens or the unions of citizens and their respective consortia, their economic or cultural milieus and the larger partnership associations that provide the basis for the town twinning network?

Main themes

1. Town Twinning and History

  • First experiences during the Interwar Period: This is a hardly researched aspect of local initiatives, which developed after the First World War, as for example adoption of northern French „martyr cities“ by British towns. To what degree have those interwar period partnerships developed as a sign of reconciliation connected with the internationalist spirit of the League of Nations and European federalism, or are they rather part of a general political, nationalist, even ethnic mobilization?
  • Town Twinning and Rapprochement in Western Europe after 1945 : The aim is to research what place the town twinning movement takes within the process of bilateral rapprochement among the countries of Europe and the process of European integration. How did twinning cities contribute to the restoration or building of confidence in Europe after 1945?
  • Town Twinning and the Cold War
    Town Twinning was utilized to maintain and even build relationships across the Iron Curtain. The main focus will be to carve out the local circumstances and the degree of correlation between town twinning and the course of the Cold War. Particular interest is devoted to East and West German city partnerships, which particularly developed during the second half of the 1980s. Additionally, the intention will be to change the vantage point and to comprehend how the establishment of new partnerships is perceived by already established partners (e.g. Mainz’ reaction to Dijon’s, its twin city, establishment of a new partnership with Stalingrad).
  • Town Twinning in Europe since the end of the Cold War : Is town twinning and effective tool in the expansion of a Europe of citizens? Can town twinning soothe conflict ridden relationships between countries on the edge of Europe (for example, between countries in the Balkan region, between Greece and Turkey etc.)? We will discuss the different concepts of town twinning and the reality of the exchange between partners. Did the western European countries that were twinned before the end of the Cold War develop common strategies to integrate a third partner from Central or Eastern Europe? Does a variety of partnerships result in a multilateral exchange?
  • We will also take a look at failure and rejection of partnerships in this section: the failed attempts of the post-war period; the question of dissolving partnerships; the problem of a possible “freezing” of partnerships in the case of a local electoral success of extremist parties in the sister city,...

2. The Role of History and Remembrance in Town Twinning

  • One of the goals in this section is to outline the importance of parallels in common experiences. One example to name is the winning network of Coventry, which shared the experience of bombing and even the planned annihilation of cities.
  • On the other hand, this section aims to analyze the role of history and remembrance of the past as perceived today in the context of town twinning. How can partnerships closely connected to the experiences of a particular generation continue to exist? What is the point and content of town twinning today? Why do some cities refuse to enter partnerships or twin with communes of certain

3. The social, symbolic, and legal dimension of town twinning

  • The first question will focus on the “words of friendship” their etymology and the context they appear in: appariements, parrainages, partenariats, jumelages, Städtepartnerschaften, Brücken, twin cities, sister cities, etc...
  • An attempt will be made to shine light on town twinning from a legal perspective. Is there a real legal basis for town twinning or is it rather a symbolic contract?
  • A third question will focus on the “invention of traditions”: the conducting of ritualized town twinning ceremonies (with official documents, treaties of amity, oaths, occasional church service, exchange of flags, gifts...).
  • Finally, the creation of a space for shared experiences and the retrospective representation of the partners within the partnership will be discussed: how is the partnership reflected within the city’s structure, local toponymy (signs at the city entrance, street names and names on buildings, commemorative plaques etc.), local celebrations...? 

Submission

Suggestions for lectures are asked to be presented with a precise title and a summary of no more than 2000 characters (including the sources), a short resume and a list of the primary publications to Corine Defrance AND Tanja Herrmann no later than

15 November, 2014.

corine.defrance@wanadoo.fr

tanjaher@students.uni-mainz.de

The organizers will make an effort to cover the costs of travel and lodging of contributing speakers.  We would like to particularly encourage junior researchers to apply.

German, French and English are the official working languages of the conference.

The colloquium will take place from 15th to 17th october 2015 (in Mayence / Mainz)

Scientific committee

  • Corine Defrance, Directrice de recherche au CNRS, UMR 8138 IRICE (CNRS/Universités de Paris 1 et IV)
  • Tanja Herrmann, doctorante en cotutelle, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz / Université de Paris 1-Panthéon-Sorbonne
  • Michael Kissener, Professeur d’histoire contemporaine, Historisches Seminar, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
  • Pia Nordblom, Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin (enseignant-chercheur), Historisches Seminar, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
  • Ulrich Pfeil, Professeur de civilisation allemande, Université de Lorraine, Metz
  • Anita Ziegerhofer-Prettenthaler, Professeur d’histoire contemporaine, Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz

Places

  • Mainz, Federal Republic of Germany

Date(s)

  • Saturday, November 15, 2014

Keywords

  • jumelages, Europe, villes

Contact(s)

  • Corine Defrance
    courriel : corine [dot] defrance [at] wanadoo [dot] fr

Information source

  • Corine Defrance
    courriel : corine [dot] defrance [at] wanadoo [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« Town Twinning in Europe », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Wednesday, October 29, 2014, https://calenda.org/303819

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