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Accidents and the State in the 20th Century

Organised by Dr. Peter Itzen and Dr. Birgit Metzger (FRIAS-USIAS Group "Soldiers out of control")
Wann 09.06.2016 um 15:30 bis
10.06.2016 um 17:00
Wo FRIAS, Albertstr. 19, Seminarraum
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Anne Rasmussen, Birgit Metzger, Peter Itzen

Accidents and the State in the 20th Century


9-10 June 2016

Accidents are challenges to the structures of modern societies. They expose structural weaknesses and often give rise to new developments and legal and social innovations that aim at preventing accidents or diminishing their impact. The consequences of accidents are enormous: They often lead to a huge death toll and vast economic costs and they disturb social and economic processes. In the workshop on ‘Accidents and the state’ we want to discuss the changing relationships between accidents and the modern states during the 20th century. How are accidents debated in a political context? Do accidents affect the legitimacy of the modern state? What is the role of varying concepts of citizenship for the perception of accidents and the development of responses to them?

One of the working assumptions of the workshop is that the analysis of the impact of and reactions to accidents and emergencies enables conclusions about both the resilience of modern societies and about different strategies to achieve resilience. The debates about how to achieve resilience are linked to conceptions of statehood and citizenship.

The workshop takes place in the context of a USIAS-FRIAS joint research project on military accidents in France and Germany in the twentieth century.



June 9, 15.30-16 h

Welcome and Coffee


16-18h: Risk, citizenship, responsibility and social justice


Judith Rainhorn (University of Valenciennes)

Who sets the price for injured bodies? French mining companies facing State intervention against industrial hazards, 1898-1930s

Nadine Rossol (University of Essex)

Preventing Danger through Education: The State, Traffic Accidents and Citizenship in the First Half of the Twentieth Century

Patricia Faraldo Cabana (FRIAS)

Death on the roads and the need to regulate traffic. The influence of car accidents in the rise of regulatory law

Comment: Stefan Kaufmann (Freiburg)


18.30-19.30h: Keynote lecture


Bill Luckin (University of Bolton)

The Global Impact of Accidental Death: From the Later Nineteenth Century to the New Millenium


June 10, 9-11h: Naming and qualifying accidents


Peter Itzen (FRIAS-USIAS)

The Nature of Accidents and Social History

Nils Kessel (Institut Francilien Innovation Recherche Société (IFRIS))

Normal exceptions-A comparison of accidents and disasters in the fields of medicines and road safety

Birgit Metzger (FRIAS-USIAS)

What does «military accident» mean?

Comment: Kurt Möser (KIT Karlsruhe)


11.30-13.00h: Responding to accidents 1: emergency systems and medical innovation


Frédéric Vagneron (Centre for Medical Humanities-Lehrstuhl ftir Medizingeschichte, Universität Zürich)

The "moment of the accident" and the multiple causation behind the rise of municipal ambulances and emergency rescue services in the European Urban Environment (1880-1914)


Charles-Antoine Wanecq (Sciences Po Paris)

Road accidents as an epidemic: the creation of the Emergency Medical Services (SAMU) in France (1956-1979)


14.00-15.30h: Responding to accidents II: Concepts of rehabilitation and citizenship


Jonathan Voges (Leibniz Universität Hannover)

“Most accidents happen at home”: The Aktion Das Sichere Haus and the “securization” of West German households from the 1950s to the 1970s

Andreadel Campo Peirano (University of Manchester)

Rehabilitation for injured workers in the state trauma hospital Chile 1930s-1950s

Comment: Anne Rasmussen (FRIAS-USIAS)


16-17 h: Conclusion and Discussion


Franz-Josef Brüggemeier (FRIAS)