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Barbara Picht

One main focus of my research is on German-Jewish cultural history of the 18th up to and including the 20th century. Research projects on Jewish scientists and their experiences of exile under National Socialism and on non-Jewish European identity constructions allow me to relate this general theme to transatlantic cultural transfers and to non-Jewish cultural history of modernity. Problems of cultural history and the history of science are addressed with regard to the disciplines of philosophy, literature and history. 

The object of my current research project is to inquire into the role of European cultural sciences in negotiating identity constructions during the Cold War. The emphasis lies on history and literature as the main fields of discourse in which national identities are formed. How did the historians and specialists in literature of France, West Germany, the GDR and Poland define both the national and European “locus” in which they meant their societies to reside. Which competing political models between East and West did they propound and how were these models authorized by cultural and historical arguments? Special emphasis is placed on the distinctions that they drew: between East and West, Europe and the non-European world, modernity and its precursors, the religious and the secular age, literature and history, between cultures and stocks of knowledge. This transnational and comparative approach will provide answers to the questions of how descriptions of the self and the other were motivated by national or European identities and how these were conditioned by the East-West divide of the Cold War.