The Department of History takes pride in its historiographical, linguistic, and cultural diversity. We focus primarily on the history of Europe within a global context from the late medieval period to the present. We take a broad approach to the study of history that includes social and economic analysis as well as the history of cultural, scientific, and intellectual developments.
Our work analyses the tensions, contradictions, continuities and sharp breaks that characterise both Europe’s past and the study of that past, with a view to shedding light on present questions and chart possible futures.
We study Europe in the world as a complex political and economic structure and a social and cultural fabric that has experienced moments of integration and disintegration. This broad perspective on Europe includes transregional and international interactions, institution building, and Europe’s self-representations. We also emphasize the critical re-evaluation of national historiographies and their contextualization in the history of Europe.
The current political, economic, and environmental challenges invite us to study the interconnected character of our world, its evolution, and the changing place of Europe in it. We investigate power relations in colonial and postcolonial societies, economic and trade relations, labour, migration, and infrastructure, as well as material culture and diplomacy. We seek to overcome Eurocentric views and to cooperate whenever possible with colleagues from the Global South.
We study intellectual history and cultural history broadly understood, from political ideologies to religious beliefs and scientific doctrines. We are interested in representations but also cultural practices and artefacts, with particular attention to their circulation within Europe and between Europe and other parts of the world. In the field of history of science and medicine, we emphasise the importance of studying scientific theories and approaches together with their material expression and their local interpretations.
The Department considers gender a powerful tool of analysis that allows historians to uncover central dimensions of human experience by studying the normative assumptions that inform economic, political, and social structures and behaviours. The history of sexuality and emotions as well as the history of health and disability are key aspects of the Department’s research profile. We encourage researchers to embrace an intersectional perspective to analyse how notions of health, class, ethnicity, sexuality, and age co-produce societies.
The Department promotes methodological diversity and dialogue between different historical approaches. We actively engage with digital history and public history and encourage dialogue with the research carried out in the other EUI departments (Economics, Political and Social Sciences, and Law), as well as with anthropology, the arts, cultural and media studies, environmental humanities, and other fields of interest.
Research theme of the year
Each academic year, the Department of History chooses a research theme that receives particular attention. Each theme sits at the intersection of some of the research strands that exist in the Department. The goal is to highlight some of the research and training activities faculty and researchers carry out within the Department, and to encourage discussion and cooperation among them and external colleagues. In the academic year 2023-24, the theme is “Digital History”.
Digital sources and tools now abound in historical research. They offer new opportunities for historical enquiry and allow us to reconsider old problems using new methods. At the same time they confront historians with critical methodological challenges, interpretative dilemmas and possible technical nightmares. How we can or cannot, should or should not use digital sources and methods in historical research lies at the heart of our programme of events in 2023-24. This programme attempts to nurture a dialogue between experts in the field and non users, and encourages to reflect on research problems and future themes.
- from 9 October 2023: Virtual exhibition organized by the Historical Archives of the European Union at the EUI and the House of European History in Brussels. Interactive, virtual reality exhibit based on HEC alumna Anastasia Remes’ dissertation research "The European Community at EXPO 58"
- 27-28 October 2023: Workshop Museum Curation in Practice. The workshop is a collaboration with the Museo Galileo in Firenze and is co-hosted by the Public History Working Group and the Visual and Material History Working Group.
- Early December 2023: EURECON workshop organised by Professor Emmanuel Mourlon-Druol on the prospects of creating an EU history database to search the institutions, committees or people working in the EEC/EU since 1957
- Late 2023-early 2024: Virtual exhibition of photographs of development projects in Europe in the 1950s and 1960s. This is part of the project on the visual history of the European Investment Bank from the Interdisciplinary Research Cluster on Environmental Challenges and Climate Change Governance, which Professors Joanne Scot and Corinna Unger run. The exhibit is being designed by PhD researcher Gilberto Mazzoli (HEC). The project will be up on the website of the Historical Archives of the European Union (HAEU) later this year or early next year.
- January-March 2024: Digital Methods in History: Area seminar by Professors Giancarlo Casale and Emmanuel Mourlon-Druol (see the syllabus for a detailed list of activities).
- January-February 2024: The CAPASIA project directed by Professor Giorgio Riello will invite two projects to the EUI for a seminar. The first project is GLOBALISE and the second is The Prize Papers Project.
- Lauren Kassell acted as a historical consultant for the prize-winning video game, Astrologaster, a comedy written in the stars, that was released in 2019 by Nyamyam. Astrologaster featured in the exhibition on Digital Storytelling at the British Library (June-October 2023). The British Library invited Kassell and Jennifer Schneidereit, Nyamyam’s Founder and Creative Director, to talk about their collaboration at an event in September 2023. Kassell and Schneidereit are now working together on a new historical game.
- Lauren Kassell is on the advisory boards of Unlocking Digital Texts: Towards an Interoperable Text Framework, which makes use of the dataset from the Casebooks Project, directed by Kassell from 2008 to 2019. She is also on the advisory board of Alice Thornton’s Books.
- Collaboration between the EUI, the University of Luxembourg, and the Max Planck Institute for Legal History in Frankfurt. This is a series of three events, which all have a significant part dedicated to the use of digital methods in history. The first one took place in Luxembourg in July 2023 and focused on Oral History. The next two events should take place in 2024 and 2025 at the EUI and in Frankfurt.
- Historical Archives of the European Union: Audio-visual collection, Oral History programmes and digitisation of archives.
- Training offered by the Library: data management, bibliographic reference managers, and research photo organization.