Research - Department of History
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Research Profile: Bielefeld School for Historical Research

With its strong theoretical orientation, History at Bielefeld University encourages reflection on approaches that transcend the traditional boundaries between disciplines and epochs. This enables the specific historical disciplines to enhance their own profiles while simultaneously paving the way for more complex understandings of the characteristics of epochs, cultures, and transformation processes.

The differentiation between Premodernity and Modernity makes it easier to grasp the processual character of historical transformations in more large-scale units than the traditional epochs and to focus on uneven developments and non-linear phenomena. Research on transfers and Entangled Histories (in Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa) makes it possible to view phenomena such as alterity and continuity from a broader regional as well as a global perspective.

Central Methodological and Theoretical Approaches:

Central Research Fields:

Integrative Research Activities

Epochs, methods, and topics consolidate into three research fields that deliver an integrative focus for both teamwork and individual projects:

1. History of the Political

The Collaborative Research Centre (SFB 584 "The Political as Communicative Space in History") is currently in its third period of funding from the German Research Foundation (DFG). This young institution has now become an interdisciplinary focus that is influencing and encouraging a host of further research projects. It is studying the historically and culturally variable boundaries of the Political, their formation, and their transformation through changes in the way topics, spaces, protagonists, and practices are defined or not defined as being "political".

2. The Communicative Constitution of Social Spaces in History

This field is investigating the communicative relations between social actors. More generally, it is analysing the interaction between communicative acts and both social and semantic structures. Research projects are applying this perspective to several phenomena: to mobility and (social, cultural, and economic) transfers from Antiquity to contemporary societies; to memory and notions of time; to the production of social inequalities and identities; or to the use of both old and new media.

3. Transfers - Entanglements - Asymmetries

Projects in this field are analysing the dynamic processes that constitute or change social entities and identities. They are moving from a perspective based on "container entities" towards investigating the relations and contacts between actors and (global) players, processes of cultural translation, mutual constructions of the self and the other, economic entanglements, and the circulation of knowledge. The projects assume that it is always these entanglements that establish, consolidate, or change social asymmetries.