Historisches Seminar
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Centre for Advanced Studies, Kolleg-Forschungsgruppe (KFG)

"Universalism and Particularism in European Contemporary History"

Duration: 1.9.2022-31.8.2026
Chairs: Prof. Dr. Martin Schulze Wessel, Prof. Dr. Kiran Patel, Prof. Dr. Andreas Wirsching
Coordination: Lena Lopatschowa, M.A.
Funded by: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation) DFG

The Centre for Advanced Studies (KFG) investigates universalist and particularist models of order in European contemporary history from the 1970s to the present. Universalist claims aim at universally applicable rules, the demand for which, however, usually follows concrete interests. In contrast, particularist models reject any general claim and justify guiding principles that are oriented towards the construction of individual or group-related needs. The KFG research program poses the question how universalist and particularist claims were constructed in contemporary history and how political-social change was conceived, justified, promoted or even prevented with them. The KFG focuses on economic, religious/secular and human rights regimes and investigates these research areas in three steps: (1) universalist and particularist concepts, (2) their transfer and (3) functions.
The aim of the KFG is to gain a better understanding of the complexity of the transition and the overlaying of universalist and particularist concepts in European contemporary history. The KFG encompasses within its research scope Western and Eastern Europe in a global perspective and is particularly interested in the period of transformation in Eastern Europe with its prehistory since the 1970s and in the intertwined developments in Western Europe. Central to the KFG is the assumption that contemporary history in Eastern and Western Europe can only be adequately described in its interdependencies and global entanglements.
The KFG is headed by three scholars who represent contemporary history (Andreas Wirsching), European History (Kiran Patel) and Eastern European history (Martin Schulze Wessel). Due to this personal constellation, the KFG is in a position to examine the history of Western and Eastern Europe in its global context. The KFG pursues a theoretical program that consists of an intensive dialogue between historians and social scientists. The Distinguished Fellows Marta Bucholc (sociology), Alexander Libman (political science) and Angelika Nußberger (law) thus play a key role in the frame of the KFG. The KFG intends to discuss concepts of historical and social science research with regard to their potential for the analysis of recent contemporary history.
Central to the KFG is the Fellow Program, in which senior and junior fellows are invited. The KFG attaches great importance to the involvement of further colleagues of the LMU Munich and to the media dissemination of scientific results to scientific and non-scientific target groups. As an important result of its work, the KFG will at the end of its term present a theoretically founded European contemporary history based on interdisciplinary cooperation, which takes up the basic ideas of the KFG.
See also: LMU Newsroom, “No end to history. Universalism and particularism: In a project funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), historians at LMU examine the conflict-ridden period after 1989 from a fresh angle”.