Conference on “Cultures of Conservatism”

From 14 to 16 September 2017 the GHI hosted a conference on the “Cultures of Conservatism in the United States and Western Europe between the 1970s and 1990s”, organised by  Martina Steber (Institut für Zeitgeschichte München-Berlin), Anna von der Goltz (Georgetown University, Washington, DC) and myself and was funded by the Thyssen Stiftung. The conference did not directly deal with nostalgia but the question if nostalgia is indicative of a conservative mindset or, vice versa, if conservatives are more nostalgic than liberals or the left has been around for a while and was touched on by several papers. Here is a short description what the conference was aiming to do:

The decades from the 1970s to the 1990s are often seen as a time of revolutionary change triggered by economic crises, in which the parameters and conditions for our present times were set. Conservatism looms large in this narrative; after all, the Reagan and Thatcher governments in the United States and in Britain implemented economic and social policies that fundamentally changed the welfare state economies of the boom years. Conservatism is therefore often interpreted as neoliberalism in conservative guise, as the defining political ideology of finance capitalism. However, conservatism was a much more diverse phenomenon than these interpretations suggest. While economics and politics were certainly crucial in the fashioning of a new conservatism in Western Europe and the United States, conservatism was also a diverse cultural phenomenon, which is not adequately reflected in historical research to date.

The conference “Cultures of Conservatism in the United States and Western Europe (1970s-1990s)” seeks to fill this historiographical gap by questioning the primacy of economics and debating alternative interpretations of this age of change. Focusing on cultures of conservatism, the conference rethinks the general contours of conservatism. It pays close attention to the intersection of culture, politics and economics, in order to broaden our understanding of the processes of change that have unfolded since the 1970s.

For the conference programme click here.