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Zero Hours

Conceptual Insecurities and New Beginnings in the Interwar Period

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Hagen Schulz-Forberg

To cut off time and seal away the past, to proclaim a new beginning in the present and project a better future onto tomorrow – and thus to make history – is a key signature of modern social, political and cultural discourses. In this book, this practice is represented through the metaphor of the Zero Hour, which alludes to the wish to rebuild the past in the face of a crisis-ridden present characterised by growing conceptual insecurity, hoping for a more stable future. Indeed, the ever-new construction of our past, sequenced and ordered in explanatory narratives, bears witness to a future that ‘ought to be’. As the case studies in this volume show, this is a global phenomenon.
Against the backdrop of a confluence of experiences which unsettled conceptual norms after the First World War, this volume presents a novel approach to global history as it examines ways of breaking with the past and the way in which societies, as well as transnational historical actors, employ key concepts to compose arguments for a better tomorrow.

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Notes on Contributors

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Hagen Schulz-Forberg is Associate Professor for Global and European History at Aarhus University, Denmark. He currently works on the history of social philosophy within economic thought in the twentieth century from a transnational perspective. He has previously worked on urban history, the history of travel and travel writing, European history and the European public sphere. He is interested in global history, European history, conceptual history, theory and method of history, and the social philosophy of economic thought. His latest book, co-authored with Bo Stråth, The Political History of European Integration: The Hypocrisy of Democracy-through-market, Routledge, 2010, was nominated for the European Book Prize in 2011. Andreas Steen is Associate Professor of Modern Chinese History and Culture at Aarhus University. He studied Sinology, English Philology, and Modern Chinese Literature at the Free University of Berlin and Fudan University, Shanghai. His main fields of research concentrate on various aspects of China’s popular culture, modern Chinese history, and Sino-German relations from the nineteenth century until 1945. Among his publications are Zwischen Unterhaltung und Revolution: Grammo- phone, Schallplatten und die Anfänge der Musikindustrie in Shanghai, 1878-1937, Harrassowitz-Verlag, 2006, and the edited volume Deutsch- chinesische Beziehungen 1911-1927: Vom Kolonialismus zur “Gleichbe- rechtigung” – Eine Quellensammlung, Akademie-Verlag, 2006. Maria Framke is a historian of modern South Asia. She is post-doc fellow at ETH Zurich, where she is developing her current project on South Asian humanitarianism in armed conflicts. She holds a PhD from Jacobs University Bremen, where she wrote a thesis on Indian engage- ments...

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