“Historical Responsibility” as a Scholarly Challenge

Forum weltoffene Geschichtswissenschaft – Historical Scholarship in Pluralistic Societies
2. Session
5. Juli 2021

17:00-18:30, online per BBB

“Historical responsibility” associates knowledge with function and expectation. As a legitimizing yet evasive concept it can emerge out of historical research, it can be set as a moral frame, and it can eventually distort findings and interpretations. In any case „historical responsibility“ serves as a terminological  transmission belt between history, memory, and politics. But what does it mean within historical scholarship? Should we think of it as a duty, a conclusion, a diversion, a hindrance, or yet something else?

In this event we want to continue our reflection of historical scholarship in pluralistic societies by discussing the meaning of “historical responsibility” for historians. While it certainly is a bridge to politics, we want to ask what it means when we develop new scholarly approaches, when we reflect our individual or collective positionality, and when we act in different settings from the public podium to the classroom and the archives.

We will be joined by two excellent researchers whose work on Eastern European history and the post-communist transition (PD Dr. Friederike Kind-Kovács; HAIT, TU Dresden) and colonial history as well as post-genocidal processes (Prof. Dr. Ralf Futselaar; NIOD, Amsterdam) continuously encounters such questions. The event will be opened by Prof. Dr. Christoph Rass and moderated by PD Dr. Frank Wolff (both IMIS, Osnabrück University) and lead up to a public discussion with the audience.

The participants are

Friederike Kind-Kovács, senior researcher at the Hannah Arendt Institute for Totalitarianism Studies at TU Dresden and Privatdozentin for Modern History and (South-)Eastern European History at Regensburg University. PD Dr. Kind-Kovács is the author of Written Here, Published There: How Underground Literature Crossed the Iron Curtain (CEU Press, 2014) which won the University of Southern California Book Prize in Cultural and Literary Studies at ASEEES in 2015. Her second monograph Budapest’s Children: Humanitarian Relief in the Aftermath of the Great War is based on her habilitation for which she won the “Regensburg Prize for Women in Academia and the Arts” will be published by Indiana University Press in spring 2022. Kind-Kovács held among others a fellowship at the Imre Kertész Kolleg in Jena and a Senior Botstiber Fellowship in Transatlantic Relationships at the Institute for Advanced Study in Budapest.

Ralf Futselaar, senior researcher at the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies in Amsterdam as well as Professor in the Social History of War, Mass Violence and Genocide at Erasmus University Rotterdam. He has published on the history of prisons, forced labour, crime, hunger, war trauma’s, genocide, infectious diseases and child mortality. He nevertheless remains a fairly cheerful individual. Although an inept programmer, he is currently active in the field of digital humanities, most notably the application of word embedding models to large historical datasets. 

Christoph Rass, Professor for Modern History and Historical Migration Research at Osnabrück University and a board member of the IMIS.

Frank Wolff, Privatdozent for Modern and Contemporary History at Osnabrück University and a board member of the IMIS. Momentarily he is also a visiting lecturer and research associate on Racism and Antisemitism Studies at Bard College Berlin.

Join our discussion!

Members of Osnabrück University can register for the series and join each session through StudIP. External guest are welcome and can participate in the event with their real name by following this link. As for other online events, the netiquette of Osnabrück University applies.


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