Isabel Richter

Deputy Director

Pacific Office of the German Historical Institute Washington
Institute of European Studies | University of California, Berkeley | 249 Philosophy Hall | Berkeley, CA 94720-2316
Phone +1.202.552.8936

Biographical Summary

Isabel Richter is a Deputy Director at the German Historical Institute where she has led the GHI Pacific Office at the University of California, Berkeley since fall 2023. She studied Modern History, German Studies and Spanish at the University of Freiburg/Br., the Universidad Complutense in Madrid, and the Free University Berlin (M.A.). She was a graduate student at the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies at the Technical University in Berlin and received her Ph.D. from the TU Berlin. She was Assistant Professor at the Ruhr University Bochum where she also completed her Habilitation. She was Postdoctoral Feodor Lynen Fellow at the University of California Los Angeles and Temporary Full Professor (Vertretungsprofessur) at the Universities of Göttingen, Bielefeld, and Vienna. Between 2017 and 2022 she held the DAAD professorship in German history at University of California, Berkeley and joined the GHI in 2023.

Her research focuses on modern German history. In her first monograph, she explored gender relations in the political resistance in Nazi Germany before World War II. Her second book focused on how (predominantly white and middle-class) men and women in the German speaking countries grappled with aging, the impermanence and the end of life in the long 19th century. Arguing that the mediality of self-reflections shaped forms and constructions of experience her analysis explored three different media as cases: written self-narratives (diaries), material culture (death masks and mourning jewelry made of human hair) and visual culture (early photography). In her current research on West Germany as local-global intersection she examines how the popular overland route to India and Nepal shaped and formed countercultures in the global 1960s.

Her publications include Hochverratsprozesse als Herrschaftspraxis. Männer und Frauen vor dem Volksgerichtshof 1934-1939, Verlag Westfälisches Dampfboot Münster 2001; Der phantasierte Tod. Bilder und Vorstellungen vom Lebensende im 19. Jahrhundert, Campus Frankfurt/M. 2010 and Mapping Modern Rejuvenation (co-edited 2020 with Kristine Alexander and Mischa Honeck).


  • An Era of Value Change: The Long 1970s in Europe. Co-edited with Fiammetta Balestracci and Christina von Hodenberg. Oxford University Press, Forthcoming 2024
  • Psychonauts and Seekers. West German Entanglements in the Spiritual Turn of the Global 1960s and 1970s, in: Contemporary European History, May 4, 2022. DOI:

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Main Areas of Interest

  • German cultural history (late 18th century to the Present)
  • National Socialism and its aftermath
  • Resistance and countercultures in the 20th century
  • The global 1960s
  • History of life stages (youth, aging, end of life, and death)
  • Historical perspectives (gender studies, history of everyday life, cultural history)