Establishing Empathy: Education, Emotions and Society in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

005 (Von-Melle-Park 8)


Von-Melle-Park 8

Universität Hamburg Fakultät für Erziehungswissenschaft Von-Melle-Park 8 D-20146 Hamburg
Esther Möller, Katharina Stornig, Sylvia Kesper-Biermann

“University of Empathy” features prominently on a promotional T-shirt sold by the German NGO “Sea Watch”. Founded in response to the so-called refugee crisis in 2015, “Sea Watch” conducts search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean Sea. However, the T-shirt not only appeals to the function of “Sea Watch” as a life-saving institution, it also promotes the organization as a body of emotional education that teaches empathy. Thus, it directs our attention to the question of where empathy “comes from” and which social, cultural and political contexts have promoted, trained, shaped, cultivated and inscribed empathic practices in collective action and institutional behavior. The claim put forward by „Sea Watch“ and other contemporary institutions (such as so-called schools or trainings of empathy) invites us to historicize empathy, including how it has been understood and taught over time. This involves asking which actors and institutions promoted, cultivated, and integrated empathy into formal and informal educational programs and practices. Furthermore, it draws our attention to the more general questions of when and how empathy became to be considered an appropriate response to perceived social and cultural needs and was thus translated from philosophical, religious or moral tractates into more popular realms, educational practices and day-to-day social behavior and action.

This international conference explores the relationships between empathy, education and society. It focuses on Europe as well as its transnational connections in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Perceiving empathy as the capacity to put oneself in someone else’s shoes and to share his or her feelings and experiences, the conference pursues two goals. On the one hand, it strives to examine the social and cultural institutions that – following what Ute Frevert has called “schools of emotions” – functioned as “schools of empathy” and to question their effects on community building as well as on social mechanisms of inclusion or exclusion. On the other hand, we aim to analyze the groups and individuals that served as “educators” as well as the educational practices they developed. This involves asking for the various meanings attributed to empathy at different points in time. Furthermore, it means asking when, why and how empathy was integrated into certain (e.g. gendered) educational canons and came to be seen as a promising means to improve professional behavior in specific fields or to redress social issues like poverty, racism, anti-Semitism or anti-immigrant feelings. By historicizing empathy, this conference seeks to better understand the power and action-guiding potential ascribed to it over time by different “educators,” such as theologians, scientists, doctors, philanthropists, social reformers or psychologists. Importantly, by analyzing the social and political scope of empathy, the conference explores its relation to power. This includes asking if and how “educators” privileged certain groups of human beings at the expense of others.

Focusing on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the conference concentrates on a period that saw not only the increasing significance and expansion of empathy, for example in the context of Human Rights debates, but also the unprecedented growth, formalization, professionalization and differentiation of education in Western countries and beyond. This included frameworks on local and regional levels, but also on the levels of nation-states and empires. In particular, we aim to study the intersection of empathy and education in key sites such as the family, educational institutions, professional training, science and social reform as well as political movements.

    • 2:00 PM 2:30 PM
      Welcome & Introduction 30m

      Sylvia Kesper-Biermann (Hamburg), Esther Möller (München), Katharina Stornig (Giessen)

      Speakers: Mrs Esther Möller, Mrs Katharina Stornig, Mrs Sylvia Kesper-Biermann
    • 2:30 PM 4:45 PM

      Chair: Patrick Bühler (Solothurn)

      Carola Groppe (Hamburg): Empathy in Families. The Education of Children and Adolescents in German Bourgeois Families in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries
      Emily Manktelow (London): Affecting Empathy. Empathy in the Family in the Colonial Missionary World
      Katharina Stornig (Giessen): Christian Associations, Families and the Emergence of the Charitable Child

      Speakers: Carola Groppe, Emily Manktelow, Katharina Stornig, Patrick Bühler
    • 4:45 PM 6:15 PM
      Coffee Break 1h 30m
    • 6:15 PM 7:45 PM
      KEYNOTE 1h 30m

      Ute Frevert: Historicizing Empathy and and Education
      Universität Hamburg, Von-Melle-Park 8, Anna-Siemens-Hörsaal

      Speaker: Ute Frevert
    • 8:00 PM 10:00 PM
    • 9:15 AM 10:15 AM

      Fabian Kessel (Wuppertal/Innsbruck) / Holger Schoneville (Hamburg): The New Charity Economy - Emotions in the Structural Transformation of Welfare State Arrangements

      Speakers: Fabian Kessel, Holger Schoneville
    • 10:15 AM 1:00 PM

      Maria Lucenti (Hamburg): Developing Empathy in Religion Education. From the "big six" to Worldviews

      Stella Maria Frei (Giessen): To "Help That Great Orphan - Humanity": Empathy as an Instruction in Welfare after WW II

      Susan Lanzoni (Boston): Creating Empathic Connections across Cultural and Racial Barriers in Mid-Century America

      Speakers: Maria Lucenti, Stella Maria Frei, Susan Lanzoni
    • 11:00 AM 11:30 AM
      COFFEE BREAK 30m
    • 1:00 PM 2:30 PM
      LUNCH 1h 30m
    • 2:30 PM 5:15 PM

      Chair: Till Kössler (Halle-Wittenberg)

      Sarah Chaney (London): “Tyranny on the wards”: Establishing Empathy in British Nursing Education, 1900–1939

      Sandra Schnädelbach (Düsseldorf)): Empathy as a Tool for Social Change? German Judges and Legal Practice in the Light of Reform Movements around 1900

      Rob Boddice (Tampere): The Politics of Commiseration: Medical Authority, Intersubjectivity, and the Experience of Pain

      Speakers: Rob Boddice, Sandra Schnädelbach, Sarah Chaney, Till Kössler
    • 4:00 PM 4:30 PM
      COFFEE BREAK 30m
    • 5:30 PM 8:00 PM
      Exploring Hamburg's Colonial Past 2h 30m
    • 9:00 AM 12:15 PM

      Chair: Katharina Stornig (Giessen)

      Emmanuel Delille (Mainz): Empathy, Choice and National Solidarities in the Testimonies of Deported Physicians

      Joseph Ben Prestel (Berlin): The Palestine Solidarity Movement in West Germany and the Politics of Suffering

      Riley Linebaugh (Mainz/Giessen): The Consequences of Imperial Empathy during the British End of Empire

      Dolores Martín Moruno (Geneva): Is the organisation Sea-Watch our contemporary 'University of Empathy'?

      Speakers: Dolores Martín Moruno , Emmanuel Delille, Joseph Ben Prestel, Katharina Stornig, Riley Linebaugh
    • 10:30 AM 10:45 AM
      Coffee Break 15m
    • 12:15 PM 1:00 PM
      Concluding Remarks and Final Discussion 45m

      Sylvia Kesper-Biermann & Esther Möller

      Speakers: Esther Möller, Sylvia Kesper-Biermann