Workshop “Biopower and Physical Violence: Embodied Experiences in Communist Europe”

Potsdam, 24 January 2014
Workshop organised by the Centre for Contemporary History, Potsdam (ZZF)
Funded by the Leibniz-Gemeinschaft
Concept: Muriel Blaive, Thomas Lindenberger
Departing from Michel Foucault, notably from his History of Sexuality, the biopolitical argument that a person’s body is a site of control is now well established. Applied to Communist Europe, the Foucauldian biopolitical perspective relativizes the singularity of communist would-be ‘totalitarianism’ (modern Western states have displayed distinct ‘totalitarian’ tendencies in the exercise of their rule, too) and shifts the analysis “onto a terrain that is irreducible to traditional terms like democracy, power, and ideology” (Robert Esposito.) Without denying the existing differences between communism and democracy, it greatly reduces the importance of ideology and of the East/West divide. It shifts the accent onto what eventually made a crucial long-term difference between the two systems, i.e. the construction of citizenship. By involving the notions of consent and bodily integrity, we will also bring into play physical violence, especially as applied to women.
Venue: Centre for Contemporary History, Potsdam, Am Neuen Markt 9d, 14467 Potsdam, Small Seminar room (Ground Floor)
Jan C. Behrends (ZZF Potsdam)
Welcome Words and Presentation of the Project Physical Violence and State Legitimacy in Late Socialism
Moderator: Thomas Lindenberger (ZZF Potsdam)
Christian König (Friedrich-Schiller University, Jena)
Individual Experiences of Women (and Men) with Hormonal Contraception in the GDR
15 minutes discussion
Muriel Blaive (Charles University, Prague)
Childbirth as an Embodied Experience: Women, Gender, and Biopower in Post-1968 Czechoslovakia
15 minutes discussion
10:30-10:45: Coffee Break
Laura Hottenrott (Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin- Institut für Geschichte der Medizin)
Kombinat der Sonderheime für Psychodiagnostik und pädagogisch-psychologische Therapie (1964 - 1987)
15 minutes discussion
Fanny Le Bonhomme (Université Rennes 2 / ZZF Potsdam)
Macht und Kommunismus in der DDR: Erfahrungen von Patienten der Psychiatrischen-und Nervenklinik der Charité (Ost-Berlin, 1960-1968)
15 minutes discussion
General discussion on all four papers
Moderator: Jennifer Rasell (ZZF Potsdam)
Agnès Arp (Friedrich-Schiller University, Jena)
Demütigungen Strafen, Schläge, Drohungen und öffentliche Bloßstellungen: erinnerte Gewalt von ehemaligen Heimkindern aus Spezialheimen der DDR
15 minutes discussion
Barbara Klich-Kluczewska (Jagiellonian University of Krakow)
“That is a House of Fears”. Women and Their Experience of Violence in Postwar Poland
15 minutes discussion
15:30-15:45 Coffee Break
Moderator: Annelie Ramsbrock (ZZF Potsdam)
General Discussion


You may find the report of the workshop "Biopower and Physical Violence" on the Website of H-Soz-u-Kult. Tagungsbericht Biopower and Physical Violence – Embodied Experiences in Communist Europe. 24.01.2014, Potsdam, in: H-Soz-u-Kult, 15.04.2014, <>. Copyright (c) 2014 by H-Net, Clio-online, and the author, all rights reserved. This work may be copied and redistributed for non-commercial, educational purposes, if permission is granted by the author and usage right holders. For permission please contact H-SOZ-U-KULT@H-NET.MSU.EDU.
By Roxanna Noll (not verified)