The Department of History and Civilization (HEC) focuses primarily on the history of Europe, from the early modern period to the present, analysing the range of contradictions, specificities, continuities and sharp breaks that characterise both Europe’s past and the study of that past, in order to understand historically its most challenging present questions. At the same time, the Department’s members pursue common objectives, which enable them to move beyond purely national historiographies by integrating them into European perspectives and placing them in broader methodological and thematic contexts. The Department, whose researchers and professors come from all of the various European academic traditions, celebrates Europe’s diversity.
Given this commitment to transcending the confines of national history, the Department encourages comparative and transnational approaches. The current crisis of the nation state and failure of supra-national institutions to take over its integrative role oblige historians to revisit constantly both the relationship between national and transnational elements in European history and Europe’s role in the world. HEC members engage in major theoretical debates in the field of comparative, transnational and global history, seeking to explore the different paths of European history by highlighting aspects of its present. At the same time, the study of cultural transfers or transnational institutions is accompanied by reflection on the appropriate analytical tools and techniques required. The preference for comparative and transnational approaches, however, does not mean ignoring the role of the nation as a key factor in European history, as they entail the promotion of linguistic and cultural diversity and mediation between various national perspectives.
Methodological diversity and dialogue between different historical approaches are particularly encouraged in the Department. Specialists in social history examine social actors, practices, contexts, networks and clusters, paying special attention to cross-border relationships. Cultural and intellectual historians analyse cultural practices, the history of science, the transfer of concepts between social groups and geographical spaces, and the shifts and changes in their languages. Economic historians look at the history of economic structures and developments, with an eye to the interconnections between different economic areas. In political history, the Department contributes to the study of governmental practices and political movements in a European and global perspective. At the same time, the Department encourages cooperation with other human and social sciences, in a dialogue with the arts, cultural studies, political economy and sociology, law or political theory.