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  • Center for Theories in Historical Research

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Since its inception the Department of History at Bielefeld University has been marked by a programmatic focus on theory in historical research. Historical research in Bielefeld, in all its diversity of subjects and variety of approaches, has always been concerned with grounding its results on a theoretical basis. We assume that considering theory in historical research is an immense benefit to a reflected reading of the sources, thereby yielding innovative results. Besides, theory is instrumental in organizing and structuring the work with concrete historical material, which, in turn, leads to comprehensive questions that facilitate the further development of theoretical problems.

Whereas the early reputation of historical research in Bielefeld was due to the approach of historical semantics and to the work of what is known today as the Bielefeld School of social history, today’s range of theoretical interests is much wider. Besides these approaches, the theoretical interest includes but is not limited to praxeology / practice theory, entangled history, history of political ideas, systems theory, image and thing theory, the theoretical grounding of history education, theory of history both in a wider sense and in the sense of the German tradition of Historik, history of historiography, and theoretical questions concerning practices of comparison.

The shared engagement in reflecting upon our own work finds expression by the newly founded Center for Theory in Historical Research, initiated by Antje Flüchter, Johannes Grave, and Thomas Welskopp.

The Center conducts the following activities:

  • a colloquium several times during the semester where questions concerning the relationship of theory and history are discussed.
  • In cooperation with the Faculty and the Rectorate the Center establishes a Reinhart Koselleck Visiting Professorship for theory in historical research, the first Koselleck-professor taking up his/her post in 2018
  • It provides financial support for the organization of conferences and workshops with a clear theoretical focus

Ideas and cooperation are welcome at any time (


Members with an advisory function

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