Main Research Areas
This multidisciplinary and multinational research project (current members hail from the United States, the Netherlands, Poland, Italy, and Germany) explores the Transcultural Atlantic as a realm of crosscultural interaction from the period of the late eighteenth-century Atlantic revolutions to the end of the Cold War and beyond. More precisely, it investigates various processes of transatlantic networking, community-building, and dissent in the realms of business, academia, the media, popular culture, government, law, and the military. The project sheds new light on the men and women who shaped cultures of transatlantic exchange and cooperation; on the transfer and adaptation of ideas and values across the Atlantic; and on the changing nature of the Atlantic space in an increasingly globalized world. Taking up this approach not only allows us to resituate discourses about the “West” within a larger global framework; at the same time, it will place a greater and necessary emphasis on the contingent, pluralist, and protean nature of transatlantic cultures itself. Because it considers the making of the Atlantic world over a broad span of time, the project will trace changes in the culture of different, sometimes competing communities in the Atlantic realm – to highlight continuities and ruptures; to show the effects of increased flows of goods, services, information, ideas, and identities; and to reassess the impact of major historical developments across the centuries.
Our research endeavor is a cross-disciplinary undertaking, combining the insights of political science, history, cultural studies, literature, and geography. We do not treat culture or society or politics in a vacuum but examine how they influenced each other through ideas, institutions, and practices. Transnational communities have never been crafted solely and primarily by statesmen and diplomats. Rather, we hypothesize that they grow out of socially constructed values, customs, and symbols as well as the ways in which these were disseminated, interpreted, and adapted in the Atlantic world. To examine these culture flows, our project rejects the traditional notion of cultures as holistic entities and embraces a more recent definition that conceives of cultures as highly interdependent and permeable. Transculturality emphasizes the plurality of existing societal designs and ways of life in the Atlantic realm, highlighting their transnational contours.
The most important project activities in 2010-11 were the ERP workshops “Think Tanks and Foundations in the Transatlantic World – Past, Present and Future,” held at the HCA December 3-4, 2010; “Energy Policy and Energy Security – Transatlantic Perspectives,” held at the HCA May 27-28, 2011, and “Zeitenwende 9/11 Eine transatlantische Bilanz zehn Jahre danach,” held at the HCA September 9-11, 2011. This project is funded by the Transatlantic Program of the Federal Republic of Germany with funds from the European Recovery Program (ERP) of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology and the Global Networks Program of Heidelberg University.
Protest movements have been recognized as significant contributors to processes of political participation and transformations of culture and value systems as well as to the development of both a national and transnational civil society. This research focus brings together the various innovative approaches to phenomena of social change, protest and dissent that have emerged in recent years from an interdisciplinary perspective. It contextualizes social protest and cultures of dissent in Europe and North America within larger political processes and socio-cultural transformations by examining the influence of historical trajectories. At the same time, it explores the response of various segments of society, political and legal institutions on a national and international level. Drawing on a variety of networks, events, and forms of academic collaboration, this research initiative seeks to offer a more comprehensive, multi-dimensional, and transnational view of historical and cultural change in the 20th and 21st century.
Publication Series Berghahn Books (New York/Oxford, 2008-): www.protest-publications.org
Research Project: "The Nuclear Crisis: Cold War Cultures and the Politics of Peace and Security, 1975-1990"
On December 12, 1979, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) passed the so-called Double-Track Decision: If case arms control negotiations with the Soviet Union were to fail, the West would station intermediate nuclear forces to provide a counterweight to the new Soviet SS-20 missiles.
This momentous decision, alongside the almost simultaneous Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, directly affected international politics as well as domestic developments in Europe and North America, as the world moved from an era of détente to a newly heightened East-West confrontation.
Interpreting the “nuclear crisis” of the late 1970s and early 1980s as a phenomenon in which a variety of military, political, and cultural transformations converged, our research project explores the discourse about atomic energy and weapons during the final decades of the Cold War from three distinct but interrelated angles:
(1) Cultural Representations of the Nuclear Threat: It looks at manifestations of the nuclear threat in popular culture (music, film, novels) as well as in “high art,” embedding them in larger transformational processes in the media landscape and new forms of political communication (e.g., the “pop”-ularization of politics).
(2) Changes in the Sociopolitical and Economic Spheres: It investigates the nuclear crisis as an interrelated discourse that is both an expression and catalyst of structural transformations of the sociopolitical and economic sectors during the 1970/80s, such as shifting value systems (e.g., postmodernism, -industrialization, -materialism) and the transition from Keynesian global control to the liberalization of society and to economic and social policies that were critical of the role of government.
(3) Transatlantic and Global Transformations: It examines the diplomatic, political, and strategic debates surrounding nuclear power and nuclear armaments. “Traditional” actors such as the political, diplomatic, and military elites carried these debates forward as did “anti-establishment” forces and non-state actors on both sides of the Iron Curtain.
By merging an “establishment” perspective with an analysis of protest cultures, this project also transcends the traditional East/West divide in Cold War history and brings non-state actors, intellectual discourses, and culture back into international history. Situating these in an increasingly global debate, the project explores the crisis of détente from the mid-1970s, notions of Atlantic and European “identities,” Soviet politics in Afghanistan and Africa, as well as transnational connections and imaginations based on peace and human rights and their impact on official decision-making.
This research project also encompasses a digital archive, which will gather and preserve materials on this important chapter of contemporary history. It will make these materials available free of charge to scholars and teachers. It will also foster an ever-growing community of scholars, teachers, and students who are engaged in teaching and learning about the nuclear crisis of the 1970s and 1980s.
"The Nuclear Crisis" is a collaborative project by the German Historical Institute (GHI), Washington, D.C.; Institute for Contemporary History (IfZ), Munich- Berlin; Heidelberg Center for American Studies (HCA), Heidelberg University; and the History Department, University of Augsburg. It is directed by Philipp Gassert, University of Augsburg, Germany, Martin Klimke, German Historical Institute, Washington, D.C. / Heidelberg Center for American Studies, Heidelberg University and Wilfried Mausbach, Heidelberg Center for American Studies, Heidelberg University. In cooperation with: Archive Green Memory (Archiv Grünes Gedächtnis), Berlin; Das Bundesarchiv, Koblenz; International Center for Protest Research (ICP); and Volda University College, Volda, Norway.
European Protest Movements Since 1945 (2006-2010)
International Center for Protest Research (ICP, 2006-)
Understanding that questions and concerns related to people of African descent are at the heart of the American experience, the Heidelberg Center for American Studies, in close cooperation with Dr. Simon Wendt and Prof. Manfred Berg from the Curt-Engelhorn Chair for American History, is dedicated to teaching and researching African-American history from a variety of national and transnational angles. Our faculties are especially interested in the history of slavery, race, abolitionism, black political integration, and the Civil Rights Movements as well as their intersections with social, political, and cultural developments outside the United States. This way we hope to contribute to a deeper understanding not only of the enduring relevance of African-American history on a national level but of its importance for probing questions of ethnicity, race, and racism in a larger global framework.
- Global Dimensions of Racism in the Modern World
- The Civil Rights Struggle, African-American GIs, and Germany (2008-) > more
- Black Diaspora and Germany across the Centuries (2009-) > more
- Maria Höhn and Martin Klimke, A Breath of Freedom: The Civil Rights Struggle, African American GIs, and Germany New York: Palgrave Macmillan, October 2010)
- Martin Klimke, The Other Alliance: Student Protest in West Germany and the United States in the Global Sixties (Princeton: Princeton UP, 2010).
- Belinda Davis / Wilfried Mausbach / Martin Klimke / Carla MacDougall (eds.), Changing the World, Changing Oneself: Political Protest and Collective Identities in West Germany and the U.S. in the 1960s and 1970s (New York: Berghahn Books, 2010)
Sustainable Governance Indicators (SGI) is a survey of reform capacity in the world of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Its goal is to assess reform capacity by analysing outcomes in key policy areas and strategic capacities of governments across the 31 member countries of the OECD, of which Canada, Chile, Mexico and the United States are members. HCA faculty member Dr. Martin Thunert is regional coordinator Americas (Canada, Chile, Mexico, United States) of this international and comparative research project, which is conducted and sponsored by the Bertelsmann Foundation in Gütersloh.
Texts have semantic imprints on their surfaces that can be read as indices for their pragmatic, social or cultural function. These imprints lie beyond traditional concepts of meaning and have so far neither been systematically identified nor analyzed. Using transformations in images of the U.S. since 2001 as a case study, this project will develop categories for the description of semantic imprints with a data-driven approach and integrate them into a model that allows an automatic semantic analysis of texts. In doing so, the project will explore possible applications of these models for a semantization of the internet and methodological innovations in the social sciences and cultural studies. This research project (2008-2010) was funded by the FRONTIER program of the University of Heidelberg. Project Coordination: Martin Klimke (HCA), Joachim Scharloth (Freiburg/Zürich), Noah Bubenhofer (Zürich).
- Project Website
- U.S. Presidential Campaign ’08: A Semantic Matrix Analysis
- Bundestagswahl ’09: Political Tracker