German Historical Institute London

17 Bloomsbury Square
London WC1A 2NJ
United Kingdom

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



GHIL Research

List of Projects


Stephan Bruhn

Heavenly Hierarchies and Profane Prestige: Imagining and Shaping Social Order in Post-Roman England and the Frankish World

The project explores the perception and (re)negotiation of status and social order in post-Roman western Europe by comparatively analysing the definition and implementation of hierarchies in the Frankish World and Anglo-Saxon England. It focuses on the records of church councils and synods, regarding these assemblies as crucial for the development of new societal models in an age of transition.

British History

Marcus Meer

Censoring, Defacing, and Erasing Visual Matters in the European City

In the cities of late medieval Europe, practices of censoring, defacing, and erasing visual matters served both townspeople and their noble antagonists as powerful means of communication. In the socio-political conflicts that affected and divided urban societies, these practices supported and challenged powerful individuals, political institutions, social hierarchies, and urban spaces alike.

European Persepectives

Mirjam Hähnle

Life in the Grid
Urban Nature in City Utopias, c. 1600-1750

How should human and non-human beings live together? How to distribute resources in a model society? In the 16th and 17th centuries, the place through which utopian answers to such questions were developed and tested was often the city. The project explores urban nature in literary and built ideal cities, focusing on utopian conceptualisations as well as everyday human-environment relations.

Colonial and Global History

Collaborative Project

The Prize Papers Project
Cataloguing – Digitization – Presentation

The papers from the High Court of Admiralty Prize Court collection (1664–1817) at the National Archives, Kew consist of documents and objects from ships that were legally taken as prizes in maritime warfare. The lawfulness of the capture had to be confirmed by the Court, who retained the papers. This collection, together with the corresponding process files, has been preserved largely untouched and unsorted as the only surviving collection of its kind in Europe. The aim of the project is the complete digitization of the Prize Papers, including the preservation of the collection’s material dimension, the initial and in-depth cataloguing, the creation of research-oriented metadata, and finally the presentation of the digital copies and the metadata in an open-access research database.

University of Oldenburg in cooperation with the National Archives, Kew and the GHIL

Michael Schaich

Webs of Information
Scribal News and News Cultures around 1700

Why would a well-educated man or woman subscribe, at great cost, to a hand-written newsletter when cheaper newspapers were already easily available? This project investigates the so far largely hidden sphere of scribal news in a world dominated by the printing press, and follows the flows of information that ran between Britain and the Continent in the years around 1700.

British History

Collaborative Project

Pauper Letters and Petitions for Poor Relief in Germany and Great Britain, 1770–1914
Andreas Gestrich (University of Trier) and Steven King (University of Leicester)

Pauper letters and applications for relief contain sometimes rudimentary but often extensive information on the applicants’ material situation, their family circumstances, and their relationships with their home parish, or specific officials or friends from whom they expect support. This project proposes to collect and edit a substantial online corpus of these narratives.

British History/European Perspectives

Markus Mößlang

British Envoys to Germany

The editorial project presents a comprehensive selection of diplomatic reports written for the Foreign Office by British envoys to the German States in the 19th century, covering the period from the Vienna Congress in 1815 to the dissolution of the German Confederation (Deutscher Bund) in 1866, the North German Confederation (1867–1870), and from the foundation of the German Kaiserreich in 1871 to 1897.

British History

Mirjam Brusius

The Spaces of Photography
Colonial and Global History

This project explores not only the actual photographs, but also their detachment from their original archival context, their circulation on the art market, and their display across different types of museums and institutions. This is done in order to determine the disciplinary framework for studying early photographic specimens, whether scientific, industrial, or colonial.

Mirjam Brusius

Empire, Heritage, and the Decolonization Debate

This project gives a transregional perspective on museums, collecting, and fieldwork as an imperial enterprise incorporating the British Empire, France, and Prussia. It shows how emerging survey methods and disciplines such as archaeology were instrumentalized in political, orientalist and racial discourse in the increasingly contested landscape of the Ottoman Empire.

Colonial and Global History

Indra Sengupta

Preserving India’s Past
Law, Bureaucracy and Historical Conservation in Colonial India 1904–1925

Taking the 1904 Ancient Monuments Preservation Act as a point of entry, this project examines the relationship between colonial law, its implementation by colonial bureaucracy, and the ‘making’ of historic monuments in India under British rule. The study focuses on Hindu religious structures. It looks beyond policy-making and analyses the many ways in which Indians exercised agency when faced with state power ‘on site’.

Colonial and Global History

Ole Münch

Sociological Objectivity as a Way of Life
A Comparison between the Chicago School of Sociology and the Mass Observation Project

During the interwar years, sociologists started to invent ‘qualitative’ methods to understand how people lived their everyday lives – and how they made sense of them. My project will compare two of these new groups of researchers: the Chicago School and the British Mass Observation project. I will investigate the extent to which both groups were similar or different, and why.

[Image from, Copyright Bolton Council, Image ref. 1993.83.19.09]

British History

Pascale Siegrist

A Secret Artifice
Language Invention in the Age of Global English

The project understands the inventing of a language – whether for political, epistemic, or artistic purposes – as an act of world-making. Focusing on the proliferation of artificial languages in the English-speaking world in the period from the 1920s to the 1980s, the project situates these initiatives in the context of wider debates concerning the universality or cultural relativity of language.

British History

Research Group

Education and the Urban in India since the 19th Century

Focusing on major Indian cities, the research group examines the relation between education and the urban as a category in Indian society, which has undergone rapid and complex processes of urbanisation in the seven decades since independence from colonial rule in 1947. The project is conducted by Principal Investigators from Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi), the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (Mumbai) and the National Institute of Advance Studies (Bengaluru) along with the Head of the IRP.

Colonial and Global History


History as a Political Category
ICAS: 'Metamorphosis of the Political'

M.S. Merian – R. Tagore International Centre of Advanced Studies

Colonial and Global History

Christina von Hodenberg

Medialization and Empowerment
International Standing Working Group

The International Standing Working Group on Medialization and Empowerment explores the connections between the mass media and the proliferation of women’s rights and feminist movements in the long 20th century. Drawing on the histories of media, feminism and gender, the group examines how the media has shaped women’s rights.

Colonial and Global History

Christina von Hodenberg

Ageing and 'Doing Gender' in the Era of Value Change

To what extent did old people, especially ageing women, play an active part in the processes of value change that transformed West Germany and Britain from the 1960s to the 1980s? Contemporary historians have often pointed to student protests and generational conflict between fathers and sons to explain cultural change. In contrast, this project explores the gendered subtext of value conflicts and the agency of women and the elderly.

European Perspectives

Christina von Hodenberg

Writing Contemporary History with Social Data: Plans for a Digital Infrastructure

Historians working on the second half of the 20th century are confronted with new types of sources: so-called social data. These are the remains of state-sponsored data collection or social science research projects, and include tax data, polls, psychological interviews and participant observations. Such data can appear in obsolete formats such as punchcards or magnetic tapes, and may be found in retired researchers’ attics rather than in archives. The GHIL has teamed up with external partners to tackle the challenges tied to the re-use of social data by historians.

European Perspectives

William King and David Lawton


This project explores the important and understudied history of Euroscepticism in Britain. It seeks to build on existing conceptions of Euroscepticism and examine the impact and role of Eurosceptic views in British society and politics. Focusing on Britain during the 1970s–90s, the project forms one key pillar in a wider collaborative project with colleagues at the German Historical Institutes in Rome and Warsaw, and the Hamburg Institute for Social Research.

British History

Indra Sengupta

Selling History: Tourist Guides, Bazaar Histories, and the Politics of the Past in India the late 20th and early 21st Centuries

This project examines historical tourist guidebooks and locally produced historical tracts that circulate around historical/heritage sites in Murshidabad in eastern India. The aim is to understand the mutually constitutive relationship between popular regional ideas of the past and the changing political sphere in India since the late decades of the previous century.

Colonial and Global History