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Konrad H. Jarausch, Contemporary History as Transatlantic Project: Autobiographical Reflections on the German Problem, 1960-2010 [Abstract]

This autobiographical retrospective discusses Konrad Jarausch’s scholarship as an example of the topical and methodological development of contemporary history. In contrast to nationally bound scholars, his career in the United States and involvement in German debates illuminates the transatlantic connections of historicizing the recent past. The need to confront the Nazi dictatorship initially privileged political history, but the societal upheavals of the 1960 shifted interests towards quantitative methods and the new social history. The peaceful revolution of 1989 then challenged historians to establish a nuanced interpretation of the GDR in scholarship and memory culture. At the same time the cultural turn called for an engagement with postmodern methods of narratology, transforming theoretical approaches towards constructivism. The growing sensitivity towards the European and global embeddedness of the German past finally inspired a move towards transnational perspectives. This intellectual trajectory is therefore emblematic of successive changes which opened contemporary history towards a new plurality.