Knowledge in the Shadows: Intelligence, Hidden Pasts, and Historians in the U.S. and Germany

2024 Spring Lecture Series in Washington

With the 2024 spring lecture series at the German Historical Institute Washington, we cordially invite you on a journey through the captivating research field of “Intelligence History.” Featuring leading scholars in the field, our four lectures offer insights into the covert realm of classified information, clandestine knowledge, and power dynamics and the role these have played in the history of the Americas and Germany in the Twentieth Century. To what extent have secret agencies and their practices of gathering information influenced international politics and the course of history? On the home front, how have the delicate relationships between secrecy and democracy evolved over time, evident in public debates and the treatment of individuals today known as “whistleblowers”? The lectures delve into these questions, shedding light on the intricate interplay between secrecy, democracy, and their impact on society. Furthermore, the lectures address the meta-level of research, highlighting the epistemological challenges faced by intelligence historians. How do scholars navigate inaccessible archives and information? What innovative perspectives, (digital) methods and data-driven approaches promise new insights into the world of secret services and declassified files? These inquiries form the cornerstone of our lectures, exploring new horizons in intelligence history. 

Organized by Jana Keck and Carolin Liebisch-Gümüş (GHI Washington) in cooperation with the International Intelligence History Association, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, German Association for American Studies, and International Spy Museum

A Frank and Open Discussion about the Secret World of Spying February 22, 2024 | 6pm ET
Alexis Albion (International Spy Museum)

From Abundant Papers to Limited Pixels: Digitization and Intelligence Reduction in the Brazilian Serviço Nacional de Informações (SNI) in the late 1970s March 21, 2024 | 6pm ET
Debora Gerstenberger (University of Cologne)

Spy vs. Spy: West German Counterintelligence and GDR Espionage April 18, 2024 | 6pm ET
Michael Wala (Ruhr-Universität Bochum)

The History and Future of State Secrecy May 23, 2024 | 6pm ET
Matthew Connelly (Columbia University)