The Institut d’histoire du temps présent, the European Network for Contemporary History (EURHISTXX) and the network “Historiography and Epistemology of History” organize a series of lectures in preparation of the international conference to be held in Paris, October 2010, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the IHTP :
This session welcomes Thomas Lindenberger, director of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute, Linz, Austria.
History as a profession is a disciplined practice of knowledge : its search for truth is bound by criteria of objectivity such as the veto power of the source, the reconstruction of singular contexts and conditions of actions, the possibility to differentiate several degrees of grey where other modes of representing past events prefer the dichotomy of black and white. The post-revolutionary condition of unified Germany constituted a particular challenge to German historians to maintain this stance when dealing with the recent experience of the failing communist dictatorship. On the one hand, Manichean interpretations derived from totalitarianism theory established themselves as the seemingly incontestable and quasi-governmental interpretation of the catastrophic German history in the 20th century. On the other hand, East Germans¹ first experiences with the hardships of capitalist transformation provoked waves of nostalgic feelings for the defunct real socialist state they just had wiped from the stage of history. The lecture will give an overview over how German contemporary history seized the opportunity to develop concepts and narratives which, on the whole, reassured its stance as a relatively autonomous sphere of expert knowledge meeting the requirements of internal scientific pluralism while nevertheless addressing salient needs of orientation in society at large. The strong international interest in the history of 20th century Germany, both in the scientific community as in high politics, will be discussed as a constitutive factor of this development.
Institut d'histoire du temps présent
59/61 rue Pouchet
75017 Paris - FRANCE
phone : 33 (0) 1 40 25 10 61
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