GG Kolloquium: "The Love and the Terror Cult": On the Problem of Authority in the Manson Family

  • Datum: 06.02.2024
  • Uhrzeit: 17:00 c.t. - 19:00
  • Vortragende(r): Claudia Verhoeven, Cornell University
  • Ort: Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung, Lentzeallee 94, 14195 Berlin
  • Raum: Großer Sitzungssaal
  • Gastgeber: Forschungsbereich Geschichte der Gefühle
  • Kontakt:
GG Kolloquium: "The Love and the Terror Cult": On the Problem of Authority in the Manson Family

The Manson murder case is one of the most notorius criminal cases in 20th-century U.S. history. It centers on a series of murders that took place during the summer of 1969 in Los Angeles. According to the standard narrative, they were committed by the Manson Family, a cult under the command of ex-convict, musician and charismatic leader Charles Manson, in order to trigger an apocalyptic race war called "Helter Skelter".

The talk will draw on a chapter from my book project that investigates the nature of Manson's authority in the Family, a group dubbed "The Love and Terror Cult" when first introducted to the American public. The presentation will focus on the way love and terror were entangled in the Manson group and the way that this emotional knot enabled the group's radicalization twowards violence. It will suggest that both the entanglement and the radicalization are best seen from the perspective of the understanding of the law within the Manson group and the wider counterculture, and that such a perspective can provide insight into the problem of authority in a democratic age.

Claudia Verhoeven is associate professor of History at Cornell University. She is the author of The Odd Man Karakozov: Imperial Russia, Modernity, and the Birth of Terrorism (2009) and the co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of the History of Terrorism (2022). She is currently fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin.

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