Natalia Skradol. (Private) Functions and Geschlossene Gesellschaft: Professionals, Amateurs and Power

In German, “Geschlossene Gesellschaft” has a double meaning: it refers both to a “closed society,” and to what in English is usually called “private function,” an event to which only those who belong to the “inner circle” — friends or colleagues — are invited. In my talk I will discuss calling on one’s being part of a particular professional group as a way to stand up to a regime — as a professional, as an expert, as an individual, as a human. I will also speak about how “closed societies” are likely to define professionalism versus amateur engagement in an activity, and why they usually either prefer the latter to the former, or else define professionalism according to new criteria, which helps silence dissident voices. The primary material comes for the most part from Germany and the early GDR in the 1920s — early 1950s.