Research Perspectives

The work of the Institute of European Cultural History can be categorised into three closely interlinked focus areas, which open up access to numerous and diverse fields of research and projects.


Central to the definition of these perspective axes is the basic understanding of cultural history shared by the members of the Institute. Accordingly, cultural history is not defined by a specific subject area, but by an understanding of history that interprets actors, processes and structures in their own temporal conditionality, in their social constructedness and thus also in their fundamental controversial nature. Culture is therefore not understood as a social phenomenon alongside others (such as the state/politics and the economy), but rather as a comprehensive network of meaning creation and attribution of meaning, which in principle affects all areas of human life and coexistence. Processes of negotiation, communication and mediality thus move to the centre of interest. Societies, social organisations, larger and smaller groups of people charge their world with meaning and significance, negotiate their values and norms with each other and communicate with each other about reality(ies). In their concepts, their narratives, their actions they create identities and social cohesion, they negotiate knowledge, they establish or contest hierarchies and much more. Communication (oral, performative, written, visual) and mediality are therefore not only the basis of all fundamental processes of culture, but must also always be considered in the fields identified here as research perspectives of the Institute's work.



Research Perspectives

Memory and Tradition Building

The Institute's work has often focussed on recourse to the past. Cultures of remembrance, the formation of traditions and forms of creating identity from the past are an interdisciplinary field of research that focuses on the core of cultural-historical issues and can be approached from different perspectives.

Cellarius Historia Universalis

Mobility - Cultural Contact - Circulation

Questions of mobility, exchange and the circulation of goods and knowledge have also been among the Institute's focal points since its foundation. They are also based on a fundamental assumption of cultural history, namely that systems of world interpretation and the creation of meaning are never constant.

Auswanderung nach Amerika

Cultures of Knowledge

Cultures of knowledge have been at the centre of the Institute's research since the Research Training Group "Fields of Knowledge in the Modern Era". How knowledge is socially negotiated, which bodies of knowledge are accepted and which are not, are questions that can be attributed to this research focus as well as questions about the circulation, adaptation and utilisation of bodies of knowledge.