An interdisciplinary soundboard for British-German relations.

The importance of German themes and subjects for the Cambridge academic community has been demonstrated by the foundation of the Cambridge DAAD Research Hub in German Studies, which officially began its work in January 2016, following the signing of a memorandum of understanding by the Vice Chancellor and the President of the DAAD Professor Margret Wintermantel in March 2015 in Berlin.  (DAAD stands for Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst or German Academic Exchange Service.)  Neil MacGregor, formerly director of the British Museum, and author of Germany : memories of a nation (570:5.c.201.10), published in conjunction with the BBC Radio 4 series of the same name, has agreed to serve as patron.

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Dr Peter Ammon, speaking in Cologne (image copyright: Raimond Spekking, via Wikimedia Commons)

In the introductory speeches which preceded the inaugural lecture on March 2nd the German ambassador Dr Peter Ammon praised the new research hub as “an interdisciplinary soundboard for British-German relations”.  Professor Christopher Young emphasised the interdisciplinary nature of the academic research relating to Germany which is being carried out in Cambridge:

The University’s two Humanities Schools can claim a critical mass of internationally renowned scholars working on German themes and subjects that is unrivalled in the United Kingdom and probably anywhere in the world outside German-speaking Europe. In a broad range of fields – from History, Law and Economics to Divinity, Philosophy, Literature and Linguistics (to name but the most prominent examples) – Cambridge scholars have contributed eminently to debates about, and enhanced an understanding of, the German world in its many facets, both present and historic.

It is of course a fundamental aim of the team in European Collections and Cataloguing to support this research through its development of the Library’s collections in a wide range of subject areas.  In the first instance the German Research Hub has sponsored 25 one- to three-year projects, proposed by PhD students, post docs and early career scholars all the way up to senior professors and FBAs, and ranging from the archaeological pre-history of the German lands to the current immigration crisis. Participants include members of the Faculties of Archaeology and Anthropology, Divinity, Economics, History, History of Art, Law, Modern and Medieval Languages, Philosophy, and Politics and International Studies.

The Habsburg Studies network is one such project, a University-based platform for the exchange of information and ideas between scholars who work on Habsburg-related themes in History, Art History, Modern Languages and other departments and faculties.  This Group’s objectives again point out the necessity for wide ranging subject coverage by the Library, and the need for European Collections and Cataloguing to be constantly aware of changes and developments in research interests:

The group’s principal objectives include highlighting the need for further comparative research in the history of Central and East Central Europe in fields such as the history of material culture and consumption, in religious studies, in legal history, in literary studies, as well as in translation studies. In the field of the history of material culture and consumption, for example, the group sees the opportunity to draw together research on the Central and East Central European areas, and thus to redress the conventional bias of such work towards Northwest Europe and Italy. Our interests reflect a shift in Habsburg studies that includes not only imperial, political and intellectual themes, but also social, economic, gender and cultural aspects.

 

A selection of books in the University Library relating to the Habsburgs, from the 16th, 18th and 21st centuries:

 

 

 

David Lowe

 

 

 

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