Mobilizing Feelings

"Feeling Political" in Street Politics

Ute Frevert

Before the establishment of elected parliaments in Germany, there were social movements in which citizens united to make public demands for political representation. The practice of democracy in such associations was synonymous with practicing political feelings – democracy involved a high level of emotional excitement and dynamism.

The decades preceding the 1848 revolution, the post-revolutionary 1920s and early 1930s (including National Socialist mobilisation), and the social movements of the 1970s and 1980s illustrate how emotions served as mobilizing forces and were necessary for sustaining personal involvement and political activism. Yet these examples also shed light on the problematic side of political emotions, which could sometimes block or polarize political debates and obstruct collective action. The more that action in the public sphere was defined by passion, the more exclusionary politics could become: this was the argument mounted by early liberalism against women’s political participation. Did it stand the historical test?

"Feeling Political" in International Solidarity Movements

Caroline Moine

The long history of international solidarity movements throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries bears witness to the role emotions played in political mobilizations that took place across national borders. Emotions fostered a sense of common belonging in the name of so-called universal brotherhood, solidarity of peoples, or human rights. Investigating exemplary political mobilizations in Europe, such as the Philhellenism of the 1820s, the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), and against the Latin American dictatorships in the 1970s and 1980s allows us to highlight the strength but also the limits of these international solidarity feelings.

These movements, which shaped and were shaped by individual and collective emotions such as compassion, fear, and anger, but also enthusiasm and hope, developed a complex relationship with patriotism and universalism, as well as with the state and other political institutions.

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