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GHI German Historical Institute Washington DC

GHI Washington - Spring Newsletter

March 29, 2017

Featured News

GHI Spring Lecture Series 2017: The Making of the Digital World

With their constant promise to make our lives easier, computers have become an unquestioned part of our daily routines. Estimates have it that there are 2 billion devices in use around the world today, with expectations that this number will only increase. Despite their global spread and ever-new fields of applications, computers and the extensive digital world they create are not simply a story of technological innovation. Organized by GHI Research Fellows Elisabeth Engel and Anne Schenderlein, this lecture series proposes that computer-related technologies have played a profound role in social transformations since they left the domains of “nerds” in the military and the sciences in the 1960s. Computers have become increasingly perceived as indispensable tools in the office as much as in homes and for personal entertainment. As such, the centrality they claim in almost every dimension of social life deserves historical investigation. How did computers transition from an expert technology to objects of everyday use? How were computers commercially marketed and culturally represented? How did the use of computers change people’s perceptions, routines, and lifestyles? How did the increasing use of computers shape social structures related to international divisions of labor, sex, and age? How did they enable new forms of community? By addressing these questions, the series traces the poorly understood social and cultural history of the “digital” and offers a fresh look at narratives of technological progress in the twentieth century.

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GHI Washington Opens Branch Office GHI West at the University of California, Berkeley

On February 1, 2017, the German Historical Institute Washington opened GHI West, a branch office located on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley. In collaboration with UC Berkeley’s Institute of European Studies, the new office will establish and coordinate an international interdisciplinary research network on “Migration and Knowledge.” The GHI will use its new outpost in California to build a research network that will bring together scholars working at the intersection of migration history and the history of knowledge. The research network will focus on migrants as conveyors and producers of knowledge. Special attention will be given to the role of migrant children and young people as mediators or “translators” between cultures. With the opening of GHI West on the UC Berkeley campus, the GHI in expanding its cooperation with scholars and institutions in the western U.S. and Canada as well as facilitating dialogue between European and North American scholars and their colleagues in Latin America and the Asia Pacific region. The new branch office also signals the importance of California as a research hub for German scholars in the social sciences and humanities. Moreover, as GHI Director Simone Lässig emphasizes, “more than any other state in the union, California’s past and present has been shaped by migration. It is thus in every way an ideal location for our work.” The GHI will formally celebrate the opening of GHI West in early November 2017 with the inaugural “Bucerius Lecture on Histories of Migration” funded by the ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius, one of Germany’s most important non-profit foundations.

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GHI Receives Volkswagen Foundation Grant for its Branch Office GHI West in Berkeley
The German Historical Institute Washington DC (GHI) has received a research grant of €243,000 from the Volkswagen Foundation, one of Germany’s most important non-profit foundations. The grant will finance three “Tandem Fellowships” in the history of knowledge and migration – each of which will pair a scholar from North America with a colleague from Europe. It consequently supports the structural formation of the GHI’s new West Coast office, GHI West, at the University of California, Berkeley.
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Dr. Raimund Lammersdorf, Former GHI Research Fellow from 1997 to 2002, Passes Away at the Age of 56
On January 28, 2017, former GHI research fellow Dr. Raimund Lammersdorf died of cancer at the age of 56. Dr. Lammersdorf joined the GHI in 1997 and stayed on until 2002. From his student days onward, Raimund Lammersdorf was a devoted historian of the United States. As a scholar, Raimund Lammersdorf is best known for his work on US foreign relations. At the GHI, he focused on the transition of West Germany’s political culture from authoritarianism to liberal democracy, a project which was close to his heart and which he pursued with considerable critical energy.
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Recent Publications
Thieves in Court: The Making of the German Legal System in the Nineteenth Century
From the seemingly insignificant theft of some bread and a dozen apples in nineteenth century rural Germany, to the high courts and modern-day property laws, this English-language translation of Habermas' Diebe vor Gericht explores how everyday incidents of petty stealing and the ordinary people involved in these cases came to shape the current legal system. Thieves in Court: The Making of the German Legal System in the Nineteenth Century, which was published in the GHI's series with Cambridge University Press, gives an insight into the interconnectedness of social, legal and criminal history. Drawing from an unusual cache of archival documents of theft cases, Habermas traces the evolution and practice of the legal system of Germany through the nineteenth century to challenge long-standing narratives of legal development, state building, and modern notions of the rule of law.
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Nuclear Threats, Nuclear Fear and the Cold War of the 1980s
Nuclear Threats, Nuclear Fear and the Cold War of the 1980s, edited by Eckart Conze, Martin Klimke, and Jeremy Varon and published in the GHI's series with Cambridge University Press, brings together cutting-edge scholarship from the United States and Europe to address political as well as cultural responses to both the arms race of the 1980s and the ascent of nuclear energy as a second, controversial dimension of the nuclear age. As of now, the era's nuclear tensions have been addressed by scholars mostly from the standpoint of security studies, focused on the geo-strategic deliberations of political elites and at the level of state policy. Yet nuclear anxieties, as the essays in this volume document, were so pervasive that they profoundly shaped the era's culture, its habits of mind, and its politics, far beyond the domain of policy.
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GHI Research Fellow Jan Jansen publishes "Decolonization: A Short History" with Jürgen Osterhammel
GHI Research Fellow Jan Jansen along with Jürgen Osterhammel recently published Decolonization: A Short History (Princeton University Press, 2017). The volume traces the decline of European, American, and Japanese colonial supremacy from World War I to the 1990s and provides a comparative perspective on the decolonization process. The end of colonial rule across the globe was one of the most important and dramatic developments of the twentieth century. In the decades after World War II, dozens of new states emerged as actors in global politics. Long-established imperial regimes collapsed, some more or less peacefully, others amid mass violence. This book takes an incisive look at decolonization and its long-term consequences, revealing it to be a coherent yet multidimensional process at the heart of modern history.
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GHI Launches History of Knowledge Blog

Knowledge does not simply exist, awaiting discovery and use. Knowledge is produced, adapted, forgotten, rejected, superseded, expanded, reconfigured, and more – always by human beings (at least in this more-or-less pre-AI age), alone or in communities, always in culturally, socially, economically, and institutionally specific contexts. Knowledge is central to most purposeful human practices, whether at work, in the family, or for worship, whether implicitly or explicitly, whether passed down by hands-on training or through books and other storage and retrieval systems. Both product and basis of human interactions, knowledge has a history. Indeed, human history cannot be understood apart from the history of knowledge.

This blog aims to serve as a venue for the exchange of ideas and information on the history of knowledge. It is currently managed by a small team at the German Historical Institute in Washington, DC, but it desires contributions by and engagement with scholars working elsewhere.

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New Concept for the GHI’s Steiner Prize

The German Historical Institute Washington DC – in cooperation with the Franz Steiner Verlag – has concluded a conceptual revision of the Steiner Prize for German-American Studies in which the prize was renamed into Franz Steiner Prize for Transatlantic History. From now on, the prize will be rewarded to young scholars who recently completed their doctoral dissertation or Habilitationsschrift in the field of transatlantic history. The new concept is intended to meet recent research developments that define transatlantic history in a broader perspective.

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Upcoming Events
Of Pathogens and Humans. A Cultural History of the Policies on Epidemics in the Nineteenth Century
January 22, 2019
Lecture at GHI West, UC Berkeley, 201 Moses Hall
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The Securitization of Migration and Racial Sorting in Fortress Europe
January 30, 2019
Lecture at GHI West, UC Berkeley, 201 Moses Hall
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The Transmission of Financial Knowledge in Historical Perspective, 1840–1940
March 08 - 09, 2019
Conference at GHI Washington
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The Politics of Sovereignty and Globalism in Modern Germany
March 22 - 23, 2019
Conference at the GHI
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Entangling Pacific and Atlantic Worlds: Past and Present
March 24 - 28, 2019
Symposium at GHI West
German History in a Fractious World
April 06 - 07, 2019
Second Annual West Coast Germanists' Workshop at University of Southern California
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In Global Transit: Forced Migration of Jews and other Refugees (1940s-1960s)
May 19 - 22, 2019
Conference at GHI West and The MAGNES Collection of Jewish Art and Life at the University of California, Berkeley
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Maritime Missions: Religion, Ethnography and Empires in the Long Eighteenth Century
May 24 - 25, 2019
Workshop at the GHI
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Upcoming Deadlines
(Fellowship) April 1: GHI Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowships Read on
(Call for Papers) April 7: Creating Historical Knowledge Socially: New Approaches, Opportunities and Epistemological Implications of Undertaking Research with Citizen Scholars Read on
(Fellowship) April 16: Binational Visiting Fellow Tandem Program in the History of Migration at GHI WEST in Berkeley Read on
(Call for Proposals) June 15: Call for Conference & Workshop Proposals Read on
(Fellowship) August 1: Binational Research Tandem Program in the History of Knowledge and Knowledge Cultures Read on
(Fellowship) August 1: Binational Research Tandem Program in Global History and Trans-Regional History Read on
Reports on Recent Events
30th Annual Lecture: Benchmark Europe: Liberalism and Cultural Nationalism in the United States, 1900-1930 Read on
A Joint Past for Europe’s Future: National Memory, Bilateral Reconciliation and the German-Polish Textbook Initiative Read on
Migration and Knowledge Panel Series at the Fortieth Annual Conference of the German Studies Association Read on
German Unification Symposium 2016: 1990: An Epochal Break in German History? Read on
Half a Country, a Whole Country, a Whole Life: Recollections of the GDR, the Period of Change 1989 /90 and the Efforts of German Unification Read on
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