Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Digital History

Dr. Anselm Küsters






seit 2022

Habilitand an der Professur für „Digital History“ an der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

seit 2022 Fachbereichsleiter „Digitalisierung / neue Technologien“ am Centrum für Europäische Politik (cep), Berlin
seit 2022 Assoziierter Wissenschaftler am Max-Planck-Institut für Rechtsgeschichte und Rechtstheorie, Frankfurt am Main
2018-2022 Promotion in Mittlerer und Neuerer Geschichte (Dr. Phil.) an der Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität und am Max-Planck-Institut für Rechtsgeschichte und Rechtstheorie, Frankfurt am Main
2018-2020 Magister des Europäischen Rechts (LL.M. Eur.) an der Julius-Maximilians-Universität, Würzburg
2016-2018 Studium der Wirtschaftsgeschichte (M.Phil.) an der Universität Oxford, Großbritannien

Studium der Volkswirtschaftslehre (B.Sc.) an der Ruprecht-Karls-Universität, Heidelberg


Studium der Geschichtswissenschaft und Germanistik (B.A.) an der Ruprecht-Karls-Universität, Heidelberg



  • Die Geschichte der europäischen Integration, insbesondere die Geschichte des EU-Wettbewerbsrechts
  • Technologiediskurse aus interdisziplinärer Perspektive
  • Digital Humanities, insbesondere Text Mining-Methoden
  • Quantitative Ideengeschichte
  • Unternehmensgeschichte, mit einem Schwerpunkt auf dem „Dritten Reich“



  • Laufendes Habilitationsprojekt: „Technological change and regulatory discourse from a digital-historical perspective“  [Zur Projektbeschreibung]

  • Abgeschlossenes Dissertationsprojekt: „The Making and Unmaking of Ordoliberal Language. A Digital Conceptual History of European Competition Law (c.1950-2020)“, erscheint 2023 in den „Studien zur europäischen Rechtsgeschichte“, herausgegeben vom Klostermann Verlag. [Link]


Publikationen (Auswahl)

  • Applying Lessons from the Past? Exploring Historical Analogies in ECB Speeches through Text Mining, 1997-2019, in: International Journal of Central Banking 18/1 (2022), pp. 277-329. [Link]
  • Gestaltung des EU-Wettbewerbsrechts im digitalen Zeitalter. Ein quantitativer und qualitativer Vergleich von Konsultationsverfahren, Expertenbericht und jüngsten Reformvorhaben. Peter Lang, Berlin (2022), 172 pp.
  • Über die Form nachdenken. Eine Text Mining Analyse von Stadionrezensionen in deutschen Bau- und Architekturzeitschriften, 1912 – 2011 (with Florian Wittmann), in: Sport-Arenen – Sport-Kulturen – Sport-Welten. Deutsch-französisch-europäische Perspektiven im ‚langen‘ 20. Jahrhundert (Vice Versa. Deutsch-französische Kulturstudien, vol. 7), ed. by D. Hüser, P. Dietschy, P. Didion, Stuttgart 2022, pp. 475-499. [Link]
  • Mining PIGS. A Structural Topic Model analysis of Southern Europe based on the German newspaper Die Zeit (1946-2009), in: Journal of Contemporary European Studies 28/4 (2020), pp. 477-493. [Link]
  • Digital Humanities and the State of Legal History. A Text Mining Perspective (with Laura Volkind and Andreas Wagner), in: Rechtsgeschichte 27 (2019), pp. 244-259. [Link]






Digitalisation has advanced automation in several industries, stoking fears that human workers will become redundant. A widely discussed Oxford study predicts that nearly half of existing jobs risk becoming displaced (Frey and Osborne 2017). Although other researchers question this finding, a broader public discourse has emerged on whether digital platforms, goods, and services represent disruptive innovations that create significant value or constitute exploitative and surveillance technologies that reduce societal welfare (Ezrachi and Stucke 2022; Zuboff 2019). To illuminate the prospects for humans in the digital age, historians and social scientists have turned to historical examples of technological change for guidance, for instance, by constructing the first historical index of good jobs and measuring work-related wellbeing in spinning and transportation (Schneider 2022) or by analysing the long run trends in information and communications technology and skill-biased technical change (Autor et al. 2006; Fouquet and Hippe 2022; Goos and Manning 2007). While the impact of the Industrial Revolution is one of the most studied topics in economic history (Feinstein 1998; Logan 2006), the essential motivation behind this more recent literature is to use lessons from history to contextualise contemporary debates surrounding digital technologies (Center and Bates 2019; Juma 2016).

By placing the discursive transformation associated with digitalisation in a broader historical perspective focused on the relationship between technological change and public opinion, my habilitation project hopes to enrich this literature with a new perspective. In other words, I am less interested in the political economy of technological change (for this, see Mokyr 1992a, 1998) than in the accompanying discursive patterns (diskursive Aushandlung in the sense of Habermas), in the hopes and fears associated with innovation, and their regulatory consequences. To approach this research question, I will rely on large sets of digitised primary sources, like historical newspapers, parliamentary speeches, and legal cases, and draw upon different text mining methods (Silge and Robinson 2017), above all, sentiment analysis. As such, the project is situated between science and technology studies as well as economic and legal history in terms of disciplinary orientation and between conceptual history (Koselleck 1972; Koselleck and Richter 2011), discourse analysis (Diaz-Bone and Krell 2009), and new techniques of Natural Language Processing (NLP) from the Digital Humanities (DH) in terms of methodology. The empirical evidence gathered in this research might contribute to the scholarly debate on the ‘Great Divergence’ while at the same time advancing theoretical discussions about sentiment analysis by comparing its usability in transnational case studies involving different languages and contexts.