History for Contemporary Times: the Italian Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany (1950s-1970s)


The history of “present times” found progressively an institutional space in the historical profession, in universities and in schools between the 1950s and 1970s both in the Italian Republic (IR) and in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG). This development was due only in part to academic dynamics, and it was influenced from the very beginning by epoch-making events as the two World Wars, the Holocaust, crimes against humanity, and the forced migration of people.
The aim of my research project is to analyse, from a transnational point of view, the evolution and shaping of ‘contemporary’ history in the IR and in the FRG between the first years of the 1950s and the end of the 1970s. Through the analysis of the simultaneous passage of Italian and West German historians to ‘contemporary’ themes, the project will investigate the cultural transitions, the meanings of elaborations of recent pasts and the construction of new concepts of citizenship.
This historiographical theme has seldom been undertaken from a transnational and comparative perspective. The project is highly innovative because not only it will contribute to broaden the specific knowledge of the two historiographies, but it will create a model of critique which will transcend the limitations of the various national disciplines and which, even beyond the specific project goals, will be fruitful for the comprehension of complex cultural objects.
The project will create a partnership and long-term networking activities, such as seminars and workshops, between the Universities of Padua, Kiel and Nottingham and create a bilingual Italian/English online platform developing new research tools aligned with Horizon 2020 (Excellent Science and Better Society).

B. Phases of data collection and analysis
Phase 1-First year: The codification of ‘contemporary’ history
1.1 Contemporary history: the depiction of a ‘new’ field
1.2 The institutionalization of recent past
1.3 Archive laws
Phase 2-second year: Cultural Exchanges
2.1 Transnational influences
2.2 ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’ Europe: an international debate
2.3 Communicating and learning ‘Present Times’ history: the education of new citizens

The research will be based on scientific publications and institutional archive sources as well as some private sources. It will consider the archives in Germany and Italy, as well as in England and in the USA.

The expected results from the research promise to be relevant on both a national and international level, increasing knowledge in relation to the state of the art and it will have a deep impact on the scientific community. The final goals can be outlined as follows:

1. The project will tackle the themes object of the research with an interdisciplinary approach, which will be functional to the analysis of complex cultural objects.
2. It will compare, from a transnational perspective, the Italian and German experience with other European contexts conceiving an innovative work of synthesis.
3. Through an original research method it will respond to crucial questions.

1. Investigation, cataloguing and analysis of the Italian and German historiography.
2. Clear delineation of which were the particular specificities of the Italian and German historiographies and which were the transnational contaminations.
3. The epistemic definition of some key concepts such as identity, nation, historiography, history making, democracy, citizenship.
4. Constitution and strengthening of an international research network

2013 - 2015

Margherita Angelini

Responsabile per il Dipartimento
Carlo Fumian