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Chair in European Studies

Since the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, the European horizon has moved eastward without the new coordinates system being observed in the realm of the humanities. For example, in the area of the humanities, people refer to general history, when in reality they are actually referring to the view of history developed in the old Federal Republic of Gemany (West Germany), which of course was written from a Western perspective and was accepted by “all” of Europe for half a century. There was a separate research area referred to as “Eastern European Research” that fell under the umbrella of area studies, but was, of course, not connected with “general European history”. This concept’s lack of explanatory power has taken new turns in its gradual decline - and it is now that we are experiencing the deficits of this interpretation. Often ambitious methodological demands cannot be carried out in research on everyday life, and therefore must remain unredeemed postulates.

The erosion of powerful schools was caused by the lack of notice of the new “Europeanness” and in methodological parallels. In the course of doing transnational work, we encounter various cultures of knowledge, which even though they span borders, are only partially related to one another. For example, in France there is no word for “humanities”. In contrast to the case in Germany, in other parts of Europe, people speak of the “social sciences” or “cultural studies”. In other countries much more so than in this one, Western Europeans are concerned with an integral understanding of knowledge, for example the contextualization of the history of the thought in the realms of the technical and natural sciences within the general culture of a region or a continent. Books about “Jesuit mathematics”, for example, describe the metaphysical horizon, the subculture of which was the setting for the natural sciences to be pursued. Discoveries and other advances by the natural sciences also have a specific place within the cultural landscape and can also, in part, be explained by that. Such a perspective opens the horizon for interdisciplinary exchange and puts a halt to the limits that individual disciplines impose on themselves as well as their focus on increasingly smaller objects. Political science and engineering technology meet in a shared history of communication within the realm of a common culture.

The proposed reflexivity and self-reflexivity of the sciences increased the sharing of culture and also promoted exchange between various areas of culture. With the decentralization of perspectives, a hybrid culture emerged that met the need for integrated explanations.

In connection with the consolidation of democracy in Europe, the observation, analysis and interpretation of which will be among the most important tasks of the next few decades, we transcend traditional nationalization in the sense of deprovincialization. Stereotypes about our neighbours dissolve in multilingual, intercultural exchange. The changes that came about because of this are opening the way to a new way of thinking about Europe.
Questions regarding linguistic, national and religious minorities are closely connected to the theme of democracy consolidation and deconsolidation. Exposure to such minorities in Western and Northern Europe is fundamentally different from that in Central, Eastern, East Central and Southeastern Europe.


Last modified: 14.04.2013 23:57
Author: Gerhard Besier and Katarzyna Stokłosa

Chair in European Studies
phone: +49 351 463-42171
fax: +49 351 463-42173
email icongerhard.besier@

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