“What is a good representative and how is this related to material culture? Dis:connecting citizens and Members of parliament in postwar Italy and West Germany”
November 13, 2023. 16h00-18h00 (Berlin Time). Registration: https://forms.gle/A8AJDvdaQyUiG5qD8
After fascism, the reestablishment of parliamentary systems brought along a central yet often neglected question of modern democracy: what was a good representative, and why? Zooming into the urban everyday of postwar Italy and the Federal Republic during election campaigns, my talk examines how and where voters and Members of Parliament met and negotiated their relationship. It scrutinizes public and private expectations of the people’s representatives and considers, vice versa, the perspectives of political parties and parliamentary elites on the electorate. What becomes clear is that the dis:connection of voters and their representatives in a period of rapid social change depended not only on mental and emotional conditions, but also on certain material circumstances of political communication.
Claudia Gatzka is a historian researching the history of democracy and
political communication, tourism and the construction of the “European”. Gatzka studied history and political science as well as European ethnology in Berlin and Bologna. She has been a research associate at the department of History at the University of Freiburg since 2015 and a teaching professor since 2020. Her dissertation on “Democracy as Local Practice. Citizens, Politics, and Urban Electoral Culture in Italy and the Federal Republic 1945-1976” was awarded the Tiburtius Prize in 2017. Among her publications: “Political education and electoral politics: Communists and Catholics as teachers of democracy in early post-war Italy” (European Review of History: Revue européenne d’histoire, 2022); “Des Wahlvolks großer Auftritt. Wahlritual und demokratische Kultur in Italien und Westdeutschland nach 1945” (Comparativ, 2013, 23-1). A post-Nazi path to participatory democracy. Popular deliberation and electoral politics in West Germany and Europe, 1940s–1970s, in: Parliaments, Estates, and Representation, Special Issue: Ruling the Assembly. Procedural Fairness, Popular Emotion, and the Access to Democracy, 19th-20th century, ed. by Anne Heyer, Anne Peterson and Henk te Velde (forthcoming).