Research

The GHI advances historical research through individual and collaborative projects.

Advancing Research The GHI advances historical research through individual and collaborative projects. It also supports research and the sharing of research findings by organizing scholarly conferences and workshops and offering both traveling and residential fellowships.

 

The GHI’s research program is built around three core fields and three thematically focused concentrations. The core fields – German/European and Jewish history, the history of the Americas and transatlantic history, and global and transregional history – structure the GHI’s long-term research agenda. The core fields are broadly defined by design: the GHI actively encourages engagement with new questions, new approaches, and new methodologies within its traditional fields of specialization. The thematic concentrations are set for periods of five to ten years. For the period 2015–2025, the GHI has thematic concentrations in the history of knowledge, the history of migration, and digital history.

 

The thematic concentrations do not stand in parallel to the GHI’s core fields but rather intersect and overlap with them. The thematic concentrations often center on new research methodologies (digital history) or newly defined areas of study (the history of knowledge). As in the case of the history of migration, a thematic concentration can also be a long-established area of historical study that has taken up new avenues of inquiry in response to current events or research developments in related disciplines. At the GHI Washington and its Pacific Regional Office (GHI | PRO Berkeley), the thematic concentrations facilitate dialogue and cooperation across the core fields. They also provide opportunity for the GHI to extend its network of cooperation partners on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond.

 

The combination of core fields and thematic concentrations provides a flexible framework that allows for both continuity and innovation in the GHI’s research program. As part of its program in transregional/global history, the history of migration and diaspora, and the history of knowledge, for example, the Pacific Regional Office has launched a research initiative to explore the entanglements of the Pacific and Atlantic words. That initiative builds on the GHI’s long engagement with the field of transatlantic history and its extensive network of partner scholars and institutions in North America and Europe.

Featured Projects

German History in Documents and Images (GHDI)

German History in Documents and Images (GHDI) is a comprehensive collection of primary source materials documenting Germany's political, social, and cultural history from 1500 to the present.

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German History Intersections

The German History (GH) Intersections project is a transatlantic initiative that will begin by examining three broad themes – German identity; migration; and knowledge and education – over as many as five centuries.

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German Heritage in Letters

German Heritage in Letters is a project to create a digital collection of German-language correspondence currently held in private hands, by archives, by special collection libraries, museums, and other institutions.

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Interaction and Knowledge in the Pacific Region: Entanglements and Disentanglements

The project analyzes the Pacific as a space of knowledge transfer and interaction, which shape state and non-state actors through contacts, reciprocal influences and conflicts.

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Research Fields


German/European & Jewish History

German/European & Jewish History

Modern German history and the history of German-speaking Jewry have been core research fields at the GHI since the institute’s founding in 1987. German migrations to North America, relations between Germany and the United States, and the flight of German Jews from Nazi Germany have been major research topics since the GHI’s early years. More recently, the GHI has given increased attention to the transnational and global dimensions of German, Central European, and Jewish history.

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History of the Americas & Transatlantic History

History of the Americas & Transatlantic History

From an initial focus on North American history and the history of the transatlantic relations, the GHI has broadened the scope of its core research agenda to encompass the Americas as a whole. Its long engagement with the histories of the United States, Canada, and North American-European ties is the point of departure for its new initiatives in the history of the Americas. GHI-supported projects are exploring the myriad entanglements linking the societies of North America, Latin America, and the Caribbean to each other and societies across the globe. The interconnections of the Atlantic and Pacific worlds are focal point of the research program of the GHI’s Pacific Regional Office in Berkeley.

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Global & Transregional History

Global & Transregional History

The GHI’s engagement with global and transregional history is an outgrowth of its work in transatlantic history and its longstanding interest in comparative history, especially historical comparisons of the U.S. and Germany. Global and transregional history at the GHI are defined less by subject matter than by analytical perspective. GHI-supported research explores processes that transcend individual polities and entangle disparate states, regions, and continents. The GHI is particularly interested in historical comparison as a tool to illuminate trends and developments at the transregional and global levels.

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History of Knowledge

History of Knowledge

The history of knowledge analyzes the production and circulation of knowledge, taking into consideration a broad spectrum of actors, practices, and social contexts. It seeks to understand the creation of knowledge orders and systems along with the power relationships upon which they rest. The development of the field has taken different paths in Europe and North America. Consequently, a central objective of the GHI’s program in the history of knowledge is to spur transatlantic exchange on research methodologies. The history of knowledge also serves as vehicle for collaboration across the GHI’s core research fields and other subfields of history. Notably, the GHI’s Pacific Regional Office in Berkeley “Migrant Knowledge” initiative is supporting research at the intersection of migration history and the history of knowledge.

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History of Migration

History of Migration

The GHI’s longstanding engagement with the migration of German-speakers to North America from the seventeenth century to the present is the foundation for the wider reaching program in migration history it launched in 2015. Current GHI-supported projects look beyond the flows of European migrants across the Atlantic and analyze migrant groups and receiving societies around the world. Particular attention is given to forced migration and comparative research on the social and cultural integration of migrants. The roles of migrants as producers and transmitters of distinctive bodies of knowledge is the focus of the “Migrant Knowledge” initiative at the GHI’s Pacific Regional Office. The collaborative project "German Heritage in Letters" draws on the tools of digital history to explore the ways German emigrants and their family and friends at home created transnational spaces of communication and knowledge circulation.

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Digital History

Digital History

The GHI’s digital history program operates at the crossroads of multiple disciplines and professions. One overarching goal is to forge links between seemingly disparate communities and pursuits: digital historians and “book” historians; projects informed by public history concerns versus those motivated by research objectives; and research and academic teaching. In addition to its own digital history projects – German History in Documents and Images, German History Intersections, and German Heritage in Letters – the GHI collaborates with partner institutions across Europe and North America in exchange and networking initiatives to support the development of digital tools and methodologies for historical research.

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