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Charisma and Emergent Social Movements

6 november 2008 t/m 7 november 2008

The Institute of Biography of the University of Groningen and the International Institute of Social History jointly organised an international conference about the role of charisma in the rise of the so-called key figures in emergent social movements.

What insights do the comparison of social movements and their leaders from the nineteenth century with those of the twentieth century, and those from Europe with those from other continents, have to offer? Why was there a rapid Veralltäglichung (routinisation) with respect to Lech Walesa, Luis Inácio Lula da Silva and the Dutch social democratic leader Pieter Jelles Troelstra (1860-1930), while this was apparently not the case or only occurred more slowly as far as Patrice Lumumba, Hugo Chávez, Mao Zedong and Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis, the radical patriarch of Dutch socialism, are concerned?

There has been a consistent lack of historical and trans-cultural theory on charismatic leadership in the discourse that surrounds the development of social movements. While it is true to say that we have Weber’s approach at our disposal, just like those of Robert Michels and later research into social movements, it is dominated by a political scientific and sociological perspective. The conference aimed to put Weber’s theory of charisma to the test; historically and trans-culturally.


Thursday 6 November
Moderator: Gerrit Voerman
Chairman Documentation Centre Dutch Political Parties

10:30 Coffee and registration
11:00 Word of welcome by Jan Willem Stutje
11:15 Juan Avilés, Pasionaria
Comments: Christoph Twickel
12:00 Michael Krätke, Ferdinand Lassalle - A Knight of Labour in Shining Armour
Comments: Carl Levy
12:45 Lunch
13:45  Jean Omasombo, Patrice Lumumba, rebellious and obstinate
Comments: Lindie Korf
14:30 Henk te Velde, Charismatic Leaders, Political Religion and Social Movements at the End of the 19th Century
Comments: Jan Willem Stutje
15:15 Short break
15:30 Jan Willem Stutje, Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis. Leadership between unbridled revolt and disciplined protest
Comments: Homme Wedman (lecturer University of Groningen)
16:15 Roel Meijer, Osama bin Laden, Charismatic Leadership and the Global Media
Comments: Touraj Atabaki
17:00 Conclusions by Marc Reynebeau
17:30 Drinks

Friday 7 November
Moderator: Moderator: Dirk Jan Wolffram
Professor of Contemporary History, University of Groningen

10:00 Coffee and registration
10:30 Word of welcome by Jan Willem Stutje
10:45 Arif Dirlik, Mao Zedong and the Question of Charisma
Comments: Dilip Simeon
11:30 Lindie Korf, An unlikely charismatic leader. D.F. Malan in a Weberian light
Comments: Jean Omasombo
12:15 Lunch
13:45 Carl Levy, Errico Malatesta
Comments: Michael Krätke
14:30 Christoph Twickel, Hugo Chávez
Comments: Juan Avilés
15:15 Short break
15:30 Dilip Simeon, Gandhi
Comments: Arif Dirlik
16:15 Touraj Atabaki, Apocalyptic Culture and the Emergence of Charismatic Agency in Persinate World
Comments: Henk te Velde
17:00 Conclusions by Marc Reynebeau