German Historical Institute London

17 Bloomsbury Square
London WC1A 2NJ
United Kingdom

Phone: Tel. +44-(0)20-7309 2050



German Historical Institute London


The German Historical Institute London enables and furthers humanities research across borders. As an intermediary between German scholars and scholars from Britain, Ireland, and the Commonwealth, we support German scholars working on British history, joint German-British projects, and British scholars teaching and researching German history and culture. Our staff specializes in British and Irish history from medieval to modern times, Anglo-German and European relations, and colonial and global history. As an independent academic institution with a research library, the GHIL is part of the Max Weber Stiftung – Foundation German Humanities Institutes Abroad.

Closure Notice


Due to the Covid restrictions the GHIL library is closed until further notice.
GHIL staff will continue to work from home and can be reached via email or telephone.


Events and Conferences


10 March (5.30pm)

GHIL Joint Lecture

Svenja Goltermann (Zurich)
Perceptions of Interpersonal Violence: A History of the Present

Online event

16 March (3.30pm)

GHIL Colloquium

Bertille James (Munich)
Europe and China in the Age of Globalisation (1978–1992)

Online event

18 March (6.30pm)

European Leo Baeck Lecture Series London

Jan-Christopher Horak (Los Angeles)
Helmar Lerski between the Diaspora and a Jewish Homeland

Online event





Research Fellow

Early modern British history

The German Historical Institute London is seeking to employ at the earliest opportunity, but no later than 1 September 2021, one Research Fellow (postdoc) in the field of early modern British history. This is a fixed-term position (3 years with the option to extend for a further 3 years) for the purpose of completing a German postdoc qualification (e.g. Habilitation).

Closing Date: 19 March 2021



Part-time (24 hrs/week), permanent

The German Historical Institute London is seeking to employ at the earliest opportunity one part-time receptionist (24 hours per week) on a permanent basis.

Closing date: 21/03/2021


Research Fellow

Colonial or global history of the British Empire or Commonwealth

For its ‘Colonial and Global History’ research cluster, the German Historical Institute London is seeking to employ, starting on 1 September 2021, one full-time Research Fellow (postdoc) in the field of colonial or global history of the British Empire or Commonwealth. This is a fixed-term position (3 years with the option to extend for a further 3 years) for the purpose of completing a German postdoc qualification (e.g. Habilitation).

Closing Date: 31 March 2021

GHIL Bulletin

Volume 42 (2020), No. 2

November Issue

Featured Article


Words Matter: Our Thoughts on Language, Pseudo-Science, and ‘Race’

German Historical Institute London Bulletin, vol. 42 (2020), no. 2, 3–8

Featured Article

Ulrich Herbert

The Short and the Long Twentieth Century: German and European Perspectives

German Historical Institute London Bulletin, vol. 42 (2020), no. 2, 9-24

New Publications

Birte Meinschien

Geschichtsschreibung in der Emigration

Deutschsprachige Historikerinnen und Historiker in Großbritannien

Veröffentlichungen des Deutschen Historischen Instituts London. Bd. 84

Berlin: De Gruyter Oldenbourg, 2020

Simon Ball, Philipp Gassert, Andreas Gestrich, and Sönke Neitzel (eds.)

Cultures of Intelligence in the Era of the World Wars

Studies of the German Historical Institute London

Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020


Ulrike Freitag

Cosmopolitanism in a Global Perspective

The Annual Lecture / German Historical Institute London. 2019

London: German Historical Institute, 2020

ask librarian

Featured Research


Cross-Cutting Research Theme

Histories of Kinship and Gender

Black and white image of a group of students during the student revolution, 1967/68, West Berlin (Stiftung Haus der Geschichte, Ludwig Binder, [CC BY-SA 2.0])

The categories of kinship and gender are powerful indicators of social place, but also social binding agents. How are individuals and groups assigned a social place? How are social hierarchies and differences, or support networks, created by the production of kinship and gender identities? Attention will be paid to the role of experts and knowledge, to practices ‘from below’, and the negotiation and strengthening of norms by situative performances. This will involve a dialogue with new methods and theories from other disciplines such as ethnography and gender studies. Both gender and kinship are here understood as multi-relational, in the sense of intersectionality.


GHIL Podcast

Peter Burschel

The Dance of the Tapuya: On the Cultural Coding of Skin Colour in the Early Modern Period

GHIL Lecture Spring 2021, 9 February 2021                                                                                                                                                            

0:45 h

Peter Burschel is Professor of Medieval and Early Modern Cultural History at the University of Göttingen and Director of the Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel. Among his many publications is Die Erfindung der Reinheit: Eine andere Geschichte der frühen Neuzeit (2014).

This lecture will show how European perceptions of skin colour – rather than primarily of skin markings, as was the case in the Middle Ages – increasingly began to influence European perceptions of non-European ‘aliens’. Peter Burschel will argue that it was not until the sixteenth century that skin was seen as a ‘supra-individual’ distinguishing characteristic that made it possible to structure, classify, and, not least, to hierarchize intercultural encounters chromatically. This shows that the process was not merely about the perception of skin colour per se, but always also addressed the question of who was white, and who was not.

Originally scheduled for March 2020 and postponed due to Covid-19 lockdown.

Images mentioned in the Lecture

Please see here for the main images mentioned in this lecture: a series of double portraits by Albert Eckhout, now at the National Museum of Denmark.


Alice Rio

Legal Role-Playing and Storytelling in Early Medieval Francia

GHIL Lecture Autumn 2020, 1 December 2020                                                                                                                                                             

0:54 h

Alice Rio is Professor of Medieval History at King’s College London. An enduring problem in early medieval history is what to make of the legal material, which is abundant relative to the total surviving evidence (legislation, acts of practice, models, old texts, new texts), and paints extremely contradictory pictures of contemporary legal practices both within and across legal genres. The lecture will try to show that this level of contradiction results from people calling on many different legal and cultural frameworks for representing their own actions, all of which were potentially valid provided that they could be sold successfully to one’s audience: what mattered was success in getting others to play along through scene-setting and role-play. Alice Rio has written two books on early medieval legal and legal-ish practices: Legal Practice and the Written Word in the Early Middle Ages: Frankish Formulae, c.500–1000 (2009); and Slavery After Rome, 500–1100 (2017).


Martina Kessel

An Empire of Shaming: Reading Nazi Germany through the Violence of Laughter

Gerda Henkel Foundation Visiting Professorship Lecture, 26 November 2020

0:49 h

Survivors of the Shoah have often described how the SS liked to define torturing practices during the genocide as ‘jokes’. The paper discusses the systematic presence of derisive laughter in Nazi Germany and analyzes its meanings as a way both to act out understandings of Germanness and to ‘justify’ violence.

The Gerda Henkel Foundation Visiting Professorship Lecture 2020, hosted by the German Historical Institute and London School of Economics and Political Science, was be held as an online event on Thursday, 26 November 2020.


Peter Mandler

The Crisis of the Meritocracy: How Popular Demand (not Politicians) Made Britain into a Mass Education Society

GHIL Annual Lecture, 6 November 2020

0:55 h

The 2020 Annual Lecture 'The Crisis of the Meritocracy' was given by Professor Peter Mandler, Cambridge, on Friday, 6 November 2020.


Latest Blogposts

23 February 2021


D-M Withers

Knowledge Trouble: Practice, Theory and Anxiety in late 1970s Feminist Movements

The British Women’s Liberation Movement (WLM) of the late 1970s was marked by intense anxiety and discussion about the status of ‘theory’. At their last national conference held in Birmingham in 1978, the WLM buckled under the weight of a decade of collectively generated, epistemic and ideological complexity, cut across by social divisions of race, sexuality and class...

Category: ISWG, Research

10 February 2021


Morgan Golf-French

Beyond Heroes and Villains: Reassessing Racism in the German Enlightenment

In post-1945 German culture the Enlightenment has generally been a source of celebration. Since at least the publication of Dialektik der Aufklärung (1947), however, intellectuals have considered the possibility that Enlightenment philosophy may have contributed to twentieth-century totalitarianism.

Category: Race, History, and Academia, Research