Principal Investigator:Pierre Purseigle
This individual project will eventually form part of a larger collaborative undertaking involving partner institutions across Europe. The objective is to establish, by the end of the current academic year, an international network of historians of Europe in the inter-bellum period. Inspired by the method and achievements of the Capital Cities at War, 1914-1919 project, this network will produce an urban history of the transition from war to peace. A genuinely comparative and transnational project, it will build on recent studies of cultural and political demobilisation after WWI to combine the history of “sorties de guerre” with a renewed approach to the reconstruction of formerly belligerent societies. In doing so it will cut across the European frontlines to investigate the experience of urban communities affected by military operations along both the Western and Eastern Fronts.
As a comparative social history this project will not only locate the reintegration of refugees and war veterans in the reconstruction process for their community of origin, but will also explore the relocation and reconstitution of displaced communities in redefined national polities in the borderlands of Western and Eastern Europe. Such a focus on towns and cities ensures that the scope of the project will remain practicable and achievable. As well as possessing this pragmatic imperative, the project will also draw upon the renewal in the urban history of the First World War, which has shed new light on the experience of the conflict.
The reconstitution of domestic and gender relations will for instance be examined in its local social and political contexts. An analysis of post-war local politics will also be integrated into this history of material reconstruction. Fiercely contested debates over urban planning and discussions about architecture were not the only ways in which communities attempted to redefine their future on the rubble of war. The study of the reorganisation of local public services and marketplaces will further our understanding of the reconstitution of European economies and of the post-war redefinition of citizenship in war-battered local and national communities.