Concepts that Came in from the Cold.
During his stay at the IFK, Anson Rabinbach will work on “Concepts that Came in from the Cold,” a study of concepts that have become indispensable to the lexicon of 20th century political and historical understanding, including totalitarianism, genocide, and total war. These concepts are regarded as “semantic stockpiles” that are responses to what Hannah Arendt called “the challenge of the unprecedented.” “Totalitarianism,” for example, originated in opposition to fascism and subsequently functioned as a semantic bridge to anti-communism. This approach to the history of ideas is distinct from the study of “ideology” or “discourse.” The peripatetic career of these signal concepts is the focus of this project.
Anson Rabinbach has been Professor of History at Princeton University since 1996, and he was Director of the Program in European Cultural Studies until 2009. In 1974 he co-founded “New German Critique”, the premier interdisciplinary journal of German studies. He teaches courses in modern European politics and society and 20th-century intellectual history.
Selected Publications: Begriffe aus dem Kalten Krieg: Totalitarismus, Antifaschismus, Genozid, Jena 2009; In the Shadow of Catastrophe. German Intellectuals between Apocalypse and Enlightenment, Berkeley 1997; The Human Motor: Energy, Fatigue and the Origins of Modernity, New York 1990; The Austrian Socialist Experiment: Social Democracy and Austro-Marxism 1918–1934, Boulder 1985; The Crisis of Austrian Socialism: From Red Vienna to Civil War 1927–1934, Chicago 1983.
Anson Rabinbach, Professor of History at Princeton University, traces the legacy of Raphael Lemkin (1900–1959), the Polish-Jewish jurist described as a “largely forgotten immigrant from Poland who coined the word “genocide” and pushed a convention outlawing it through the General Assembly.” (New York Times, June 19, 2001).