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The Contemporary Turn

Debate, Curricula, and Swedish Students' History

Thomas Nygren

In 2010, a proposal for a new history syllabus was criticized in the Swedish media for emphasizing contemporary history at the expense of ancient history. This study shows how contemporary history has increasingly been the focus of the guidelines developed by UNESCO and the Council of Europe, the national curricula, and students' work since the 1950s, while graduating students had generally rather chosen to focus on the early modern era up until the 1930s. Although history and civics were given status as separate school subjects in 1961, students' work in history continued to focus on contemporary subject matter. This study shows that the dominance of contemporary history in students' history is by no means a new phenomenon.

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Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe Reloaded?

Writing the Conceptual History of the Twentieth Century

Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann, Kathrin Kollmeier, Willibald Steinmetz, Philipp Sarasin, Alf Lüdtke, and Christian Geulen

Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe Reloaded? Writing the Conceptual History of the Twentieth Century Guest editors: Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann and Kathrin Kollmeier

Introduction Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann and Kathrin Kollmeier

Some Thoughts on the History of Twentieth-Century German Basic Concepts Willibald Steinmetz

Is a “History of Basic Concepts of the Twentieth Century“ Possible? A Polemic Philipp Sarasin

History of Concepts, New Edition: Suitable for a Better Understanding of Modern Times? Alf Lüdtke

Reply Christian Geulen

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Nathan Bracher

narration. Following rigorous methods and rules of evidence, contemporary history strives to be a “scientific,” or scholarly enterprise, yet on several levels it remains an eminently human, if at times all-too-human, undertaking. Ever since the elaboration

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Frauen in Bewegung

Building Up an Online Documentation and a Digital Collection on the History of Austrian Women's Movements, 1918–1938

Lydia Jammernegg and Natascha Vittorelli

Frauen in Bewegung (Women in motion) is a joint endeavour of Ariadne, the Women’s and Gender Documentation Centre at the Austrian National Library, and the Department of Contemporary History at Vienna University. For two and a half years (2006–2009) the project was financed by the Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (Austrian Science Fund). Under the leadership of Helga Hofmann-Weinberger (Austrian National Library) and in cooperation with Johanna Gehmacher (Department of Contemporary History, Vienna University) Frauen in Bewegung has been conducted as an interdisciplinary project. While Lydia Jammernegg was responsible for the documentary part of the project, Natascha Vittorelli dealt with the historiographical components. In doing so, the documentation and historiography of women’s movements were closely interlinked. The following description focuses on the documentary part of the project and explains the aims, the structure and some of the results of the documentation and digitalisation work, which is presented on the web.

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Wulf Kansteiner

Since the 1960s, Germany’s historical culture has continually reprocessed

the Nazi past and later the Holocaust for the purposes of education,

remembrance, and entertainment. The objective of this process,

Vergangenheitsbewältigung, is the self-centered and self-designed

therapeutic treatment of the descendants of the perpetrators and

bystanders of Nazism. It seems that Germans, who were better fascists

than other Europeans, are also determined to excel at the task of

working through Nazism and the World War II era. Therefore,

attempts at mastering the past have given rise to hectic cultural activity

as the field of contemporary history illustrates: “[I]ncessantly the

German business for contemporary history generates fast-food products.

It is based on a perpetual mobile of commissions, projects and

mini-grants, temporary employment and welfare-to-work subsidies,

conferences and lecture series—a perpetual mobile of pedagogical historiography

and history obsessed pedagogy.”

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Suzanne Desan

“All history is contemporary history,” observed Benedetto Croce. Work on the French Revolution has often proven his insight.* In today’s globalizing climate, it is worth examining French revolutionary historians’ uneven embrace of the current historiographic trend toward transnational approaches. On one hand, scholarship has been comparatively slow to take this turn for several reasons, notably the persistent belief in the centrality of the nation. The revolutionaries themselves built claims of French exceptionalism into their construction of universalism, and historians have inherited the strong sense that the Revolution held particular power and played an integral role in constructing French national identity.

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Virtually a Historian

Blogs and the Recent History of Dispossessed Academic Labor

Claire Bond Potter

A contemporary history of higher education in the United States is being written on the Internet. Academic bloggers interrupt and circumvent the influence of professional associations over debates about unemployment, contingent labor, publishing, tenure review, and other aspects of creating and maintaining a scholarly career. On the Internet, limited status and prestige, as well as one's invisibility as a colleague, are no barrier to acquiring an audience within the profession or creating a contemporary archive of academic labor struggles. At a moment of financial and political crisis for universities, these virtual historians have increasingly turned their critical faculties to scrutinizing, critiquing, and documenting the neoliberal university. Although blogging has not displaced established sources of intellectual prestige, virtual historians are engaged in the project of constructing their own scholarly identities and expanding what counts as intellectual and political labor for scholars excluded from the world of full-time employment.

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Jost Dülffer

Researching and writing contemporary history move forward in a

certain rhythm. Today, the 1960s are the decade of major interest,

whereas the 1970s increasingly are becoming the testing ground of

new approaches and reinterpretations. By contrast, the 1950s seem

of little interest—with most of the issues solved and most sources

accessible. But this could be a false impression, especially if one

takes into account the dominant views on this period that have

become popular in the last years. After 1989/90, with the fall of the

Berlin Wall, the unification of Germany, and the end of the Cold

War, many historians developed and corroborated an interpretation

of the postwar decades—a now widely accepted master narrative of

the “German question.” With the benefit of hindsight, they claimed

that Konrad Adenauer’s policy of Western integration was a necessary

and inevitable course, which facilitated eventual reunification.

Other political options would have rendered the Federal Republic of

Germany (FRG) dangerously open to stronger communist pressure or

even would have presented the Soviet Union with the opportunity to

expand its empire to Germany as a whole.

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Željka Janković and Svetlana Stefanović

history of women in Yugoslavia/Serbia. Their authors, the historians Ana Stolić and Jasmina Milanovic, working respectively at the Institute of History and at the Institute for Contemporary History in Belgrade, concentrate their research interests around

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Enis Sulstarova

, starting with the European geographic discoveries and ending with the First World War. In the eleventh year came contemporary history, while the eighth year was dedicated to the national history of Albania. The secondary education curriculum repeated the