Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Southeast European History


Within the scope of the chair, research will be conducted and tuition will be offered with an emphasis on the history of South-East Europe from a comparative perspective in the 19th and 20th centuries. Areas of special interest that have previously featured in Prof. Grandits' research include:

  • Social change in late Ottoman and late Habsburg societies in South-East and East Central Europe

  • Family, kinship and the welfare state in Europe from a historical and comparative perspective

  • Social integration in South-East and Central Europe in the era of Socialism

  • Theories and studies of ethnic conflict

  • EU integration and its impact in South-East Europe

  • Theories and methods of historical Anthropology

In addition to the above mentioned themes, several other topics from the South-Eastern and East Central European space will also be explored by the academic collaborators of the chair.

The history of South-East Europe will be conducted within a flexible temporal and geographical framework that locates some of the main themes of analysis within the wider European context in which they occurred. Namely: the problems of multi-ethnic and multi-confessional societies, dictatorship and democracy, violence and war, nation building in multi-national societies, the development of welfare states, migration, etc.

From a conceptual and theoretical point of view, it is necessary to clearly locate the approach of the chair within a wider analytical context. The historical interpretations and conceptual apparatus that have long informed the study of the European social order (and beyond) is deeply rooted in the bi-polar worldview of “East” and “West” or if we take a step back before the Cold War, and in particular with reference to South-East Europe, in notions of an “Occident” and an “Orient” as mental maps and starting points for academic enquiry. During the process of production of academic literature on South-East Europe, a clear “otherness” was constructed based on real as well as imaginary factors. If we invert the picture, it is evident that the very process of definition of the “West” itself precluded the necessity of an existing or imaginary “East”. The approach that this chair will favor should, therefore, not only concentrate on historical outcomes through a systematic contextualization of events but also engage with the evolution of European thought about South-East Europe and the resulting interpretative and relational patterns that emerged. This means engaging with the history of our region from a pluralistic and non-dogmatic point of view that focuses on South-East Europe as part of a complex web of “entangled histories” which not only refer to “Central”, “Western” and “Eastern” European history but also the history of the “Mediterranean World” and the “Near East”.

One of the most important aspects of the research conducted within the chair is the use of methods from historical Anthropology, an approach that has by now ceased to be at the margins of our discipline and has become crucial to the practice of historical research. Emphasis on understanding the centrality of a self-perceived subjective reality will be coupled with an awareness of the need to formulate complex explanations that include the socio-political, economic and cultural context in order to explain human motivation and action. Thus, the combination of historical and cultural anthropological questions, problems, theories and methods is at the core of the research agenda and objectives of the chair.