History of Knowledge

The history of knowledge analyzes the production and circulation of knowledge, taking into consideration a broad spectrum of people, practices, and social contexts. Scholars working in the field seek to understand the creation of knowledge orders and systems along with the often highly asymmetrical power relationships upon which they rest. The development of the field has taken distinct paths in Europe and the two American continents. A central objective of the GHI’s program in the history of knowledge is to spur transatlantic and transhemispheric exchange as well as collaboration on thematically related research topics and methodologies.

Beyond its transregional agenda, the GHI takes a broad approach to “knowledge” in its programming. Research at the GHI zeroes in on established actors and institutions of knowledge production, such as individual scholars, scientists, or academia in its entirety. Moreover, researchers here look at actors and spaces not typically associated with knowledge production as well as multidirectional knowledge flows. They focus on the clashes of knowledge orders and seek to historicize the hegemony of distinct types of knowledge and how these have been constructed. And they highlight the social impact of knowledge, revealing how knowledge-producing institutions such as universities function as highly hierarchical social spheres.

The history of knowledge also serves as vehicle for collaboration across the GHI’s core research fields and other subfields of history. Ongoing research combines, for instance, knowledge with the history of mobility, infrastructure, and elitism. The GHI’s “Migrant Knowledge” initiative supports research at the intersection of migration history and the history of knowledge. Emphasizing the many facets of the field, the “History of Knowledge” Blog showcases current projects at the GHI and beyond for both academic and general audiences.

Photo Credit: The Wealth of the Nation, 1938. Seymour Fogel, Social Security Building (Voice of America).



Innovation through Tradition? Jewish Educational Media and Cultural Transformation in the Face of Modernity Religion, Knowledge, and Education as Key Elements of Socio-Cultural Transformation

German-Israeli cooperative research project bringing that investigates the transformation of Jewish daily life through the prism of its central spaces of teaching, learning and knowledge.

Interaction and Knowledge in the Pacific Region: Entanglements and Disentanglements

A project funded by the German Ministry for Education and Research (March 2019 – February 2022)

Events & Conferences

May 23, 2024

The History and Future of State Secrecy

Lecture at GHI Washington | Speaker: Matthew Connelly (Columbia University / the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, University of Cambridge)

Read on

Jun 05, 2024

Research Seminar (Hybrid)

Viola Alianov-Rautenberg (GHI Washington, Pacific Office)

Read on

Jun 28, 2024

Archives in/of Transit: Historical Perspectives from the 1930s to the Present

Workshop at University of Southern California, Los Angeles | Conveners: Einstein Papers Project / California Institute of Technology (Jennifer Rodgers); German Historical Institute Washington and its Pacific Office at UC Berkeley (Simone Lässig, Anna-Carolin Augustin, Swen Steinberg); Holocaust Research Institute, Royal Holloway, University of London (Dan Stone); Queen Mary, University of London (Jane Freeland); Wiener Holocaust Library, London (Toby Simpson, Christine Schmidt) as part of the Holocaust and Genocide Research Partnership (HGRP); USC Dornsife Center for Advanced Genocide Research (Wolf Gruner)

Read on

Jul 14, 2024

Making a World of Many Worlds: Identities, Activisms, and Comparisons

Summer School | Pacific Office, Berkeley | organized by The Maria Sibylla Merian Center for Advanced Latin American Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences (CALAS), the Pacific Office of the German Historical Institute Washington (GHI) at UC Berkeley, and the Collaborative Research Center (SFB) 1288 “Practices of Comparing” at Bielefeld University

Read on

Sep 05, 2024

Science and Democracy in Political Crises, 1900-2024

Conference at GHI Washington | Conveners: Axel Jansen (GHI), Alexander Bogner (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna), Carsten Reinhardt (Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina – German National Academy of Sciences, Halle), Heidi Tworek (University of British Columbia, Vancouver)

Read on

Feb 13, 2025

Refugees in Global Transit: Encounters, Knowledge, and Coping Strategies in a Disrupted World, 1930s–50s

Conference in Mumbai, India | Organized by Simone Lässig (German Historical Institute Washington), Sebastian Schwecke (Max Weber Forum for South Asian Studies, Delhi), and Swen Steinberg (Queen's University, Kingston). in collaboration with Christoph K. Neumann (OI Istanbul), Maria Framke (Erfurt University), and Jens Hanssen (OI Beirut).

Read on


Bulletin 72 (Fall 2023)

Forum: The German Treatment of Soviet Prisoners of War During The Second World War

Read on

Bulletin 70 (Fall 2022)

Forum: Rethinking Cross-Border Connections

Read on

Anna Corsten

Unbequeme Erinnerer: Emigrierte Historiker in der westdeutschen und US-amerikanischen NS- und Holocaust-Forschung, 1945–1998

Transatlantische Historische Studien. Band 62. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2022.

Read on

Bulletin 69 (Fall 2021 & Spring 2022)

Read on

Simone Lässig, ed.

Digital History

Special Issue, Geschichte und Gesellschaft 47.1 (2021)

Read on

Sophia Dafinger

Die Lehren des Luftkriegs: Sozialwissenschaftliche Expertise in den USA vom Zweiten Weltkrieg bis Vietnam

Transatlantische Historische Studien. Band 59. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2020.

Read on

Latest News


Doctoral and Postdoctoral Research Fellowships

Deadline: October 1, 2024 | The GHI awards short-term fellowships to European and North American doctoral students as well as postdoctoral scholars to…

Read on


Intern at the German Historical Institute

Deadline: July 31, 2024 | The GHI Internship Program gives students of history, political science, public relations, and public administration at…

Read on


Interview with Postdoctoral Visiting Fellow Maximilian Klose

We recently caught up with Maximilian Klose, one of our Visiting Fellows, who will be leaving us at the end of February. We sat down with him to…

Read on

Event Report

GHI hosts Symposium "Trust in Museums: Potential, Challenges, and Societal Importance"

As a part of the BMBF's "German Science Year 2024 – Freedom," the GHI hosted a symposium together with the German Embassy focusing on public trust in…

Read on

New Publication

Fall 2023 Bulletin (72) issue published and available for download

The latest issue of the Bulletin is now available online for download as well as in print.

Read on