Call for Book Chapters: "An Invitation for Civilization: Searching for the Ideal Community in Postwar Europe" (Deadline December 1, 2021)

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Call for Book Chapters

An Invitation for Civilization: Searching for the Ideal Community in Postwar Europe

We are pleased to invite contributions to our edited volume, which explores the idea of a “postwar social consensus” and the various attempts at constructing ideal communities during the “long 1950s” throughout Europe. The book is a collection of five to six chapters that analyze the development of urban (or urban style) structures for social organization in comparative, transnational perspective. 

The volume is initiated within the project “Europe’s Postwar Consensus: A Golden Age of Social Cohesion and Social Continuity?”, under the direction Prof. Dr. Jan De Graaf at the ISB-RUB.


Dr Kevin Hall, post-doctoral researcher at the Institute for Social Movements (ISB) at the Ruhr-Universität-Bochum (RUB), author of Terror Flyers: The Lynching of American Airmen in Nazi Germany (2021).

Dr Albena Shkodrova, post-doctoral researcher at the ISB-RUB, author of Communist Gourmet (2021) and Rebellious Cooks and Recipe Writing in Communist Bulgaria (2021).


Routledge has expressed interest in publishing the volume. The final decision will be taken through a peer-review procedure, which is currently under way.


Scholars have copiously researched the death and destruction inflicted throughout Europe during World War II along with the resulting impact on the postwar infrastructure, social arrangements, public provisions, as well as the influx of millions of displaced persons and refugees. These events forged atomized societies in which individuals and families were overwhelmed with the basic instincts for survival during the immediate postwar years. While attempts to find stability existed throughout Europe, a comparison of the ways in which diverse, local communities sought to overcome these obstacles remains to be explored. These issues continued to resonate throughout the following decades and persist as a contemporary problem. Questions remain as to how nations and communities (spanning the Iron Curtain) attempted to balance social disparities, the motivations behind such efforts, the role and influence of local citizens and contexts, and ultimately their success and failure at constructing ideal communities. 

Two case studies are already defined. Dr. Kevin Hall’s case study analyzes the construction and use of rural community centers to balance the social, cultural, and economic divide between the urban and rural milieus in both the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic. These establishments sought to bring the modern, urban amenities into the traditional, rural milieu to hinder the rural exodus. They were also used as a political instrument for stimulating social cohesion and represent an attempt to prevent further societal or individual anomie. Stark contrasts (i.e., rich—poor, urban—rural, traditional—modern, collective—individual), were exacerbated by the war and weakened the cohesiveness and foundation of society. This study traces the historical attempts to combat rural exodus, how these efforts influenced postwar methods, as well as the impact these approaches continue to have on current social programs in Germany.

Dr. Shkodrova investigates the community-building efforts in Pernik, Bulgaria and in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, during the 1950s. In both towns new neighborhoods meant to reflect the modern social ideals within contrasting cultural and political frameworks. The study finds parallels and contrasts in the promoted social agendas and their practical applications. The communist ideal pursued radical reform via the exclusion of previously privileged classes. The totalitarian nature of the system obscured the distinction between top-down and bottom-up, as repressions triggered grass-root activity, which mirrored the official ideology. In Rotterdam, in contrast, distinctive polyphony was observed: while Christian denominations and socialists competed to dominate the discourse on communal life, conservative voices remained audible on all levels. A major contrast was the one-model approach in Pernik versus the case-by-case discussions in Rotterdam. The article taps into the debate if the progress of the 1950s could be assigned to the hurtful memory of the war triggering strive for cooperation and solidarity.

We welcome book chapter contributions that incorporate additional comparative components to offer further insight into postwar community building and the postwar consensus throughout Europe. The intent is to use localized case studies to provide a comparative overview of social cohesion and/or mobility during the early stages of the reconstruction of Europe: of its ideologies, attempts at their translation into social structures, their actual realization, and the ways they were perceived. Comparisons could be done across the lines of political or geographical divides, interactions between newcomers and established communities, urban-rural cultural frameworks, and genders.


Proposals should be submitted to and by 1 December 2021 and must include an abstract (350-400 words) and a brief biographical statement (100 words).

The selection will be announced in January 2022. Full versions of the selected articles - of up to 10,000 words, references and footnotes included, - to be submitted to the book editors by 8 September 2022. The layout and citations should be formatted according to Routledge’s house-style (to be provided in due time).

All articles will undergo double blind peer review.