Events Calendar

From Wednesday 13 September 2017 -  17:00
to Friday 15 September 2017 - 14:30
  • EIC
  • ELG
  • EPS

Government by expertise
Technocrats and technocracy in Western Europe, 1914-1973

Mario monti technocrat.jpg

Technocracy is the political swearword of our times, being regarded as the root of both democratic defects and radical right-wing populism. This conference will look at the genealogy of technocracy and the trajectories of various groups of ‘experts’ in western Europe’s mid-20th century.

From the multiple crises of the European Union to the recent elections in the US, the role of experts in public governance is often invoked as one of the main sources for the political ills of contemporary society. 

For many, technocratic rule is an elitist project that makes present-day politics unaccountable, detached from the lives and needs of ordinary people, and thus fundamentally irreconcilable with democracy. Defenders of technocracy, by contrast, stress the complexity of the world and the need for specialists with extensive expertise to run what they regard as the increasingly difficult business of government, while pointing to the defects and dangers of a model of democracy that is overly inclusive of and responsive to the people.

Conference aim

This conference will explore the relationship between technocracy, war, democracy, and politico-economic orders; trace the role of technocracy in the process of European integration; and explore the gradual ascent of expert groups involved in social engineering, planning, economic management, and the techno-politics of the state. In doing so, it will seek to assess the origins, shape, and legacies of western Europe’s ‘Age of Technocracy’, carving out patterns that continue to influence policymaking in European democracies today.  

Keynote lecture

The conference will kick off on 13 September 2017 at 17:00 with a public keynote presentation by Professor Philip Nord (Princeton University), who will give a lecture on France’s Age of Technocracy, 1930-1970. The keynote presentation will be delivered at the VOC Zaal, Bushuis, Kloveniersburgwal 48, 1012 CX Amsterdam. 


This event is co-sponsored by ACCESS EUROPE and the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust, and Genocide StudiesACCESS EUROPE postdoc This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Peter Romijn, who is affiliated both to the UvA and NIOD, are convening the speakers and programme.



Doelenzaal, University Library, Singel 425 Amsterdam