German Historical Institute London

17 Bloomsbury Square
London WC1A 2NJ
United Kingdom

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



Dr Mirjam Hähnle

Early Modern History

+44 020 7309

Mirjam Hähnle joined the GHIL in April 2022. She is interested in early modern concepts of human-environment relations and debates about writing history in times of climate crisis. After studying History and German Studies in Freiburg (Germany), she went to Basel (Switzerland) for her PhD. Her first book deals with changing temporalities in the 18th century, especially in the context of Europeans travelling to the Near East. In her new project, Mirjam explores urban nature in literary and built utopian cities from 1600 to 1750, focussing on the planning, everyday interspecies life, and resource infrastructures of Freudenstadt and Philadelphia.

Research Project

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

A portraiture of the city of Philadelphia in the province of Pennsylvania in America, showing the gridline plan for the city (1683)

How should human and non-human beings live together? How should lands and resources be distributed 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. This project explores urban nature in literary and built ideal cities, focusing on utopian conceptualisations as well as everyday human-environment relations. The goal of the study is to show that urban utopias formed a contradictory missing piece in understandings of the relationships between people and their non-human environments in the early modern period. City utopias can be used to trace both the colonial appropriation of people and nature, which was decisively shaped in this era, and the creation of counter-worlds and practices.

Responsibilities at the GHIL

  • Research Fellow in Early Modern History

Research Interests

  • Early modern resource imaginaries
  • Utopian thinking
  • Environmental history of the city
  • Historical concepts of time
  • History writing and the climate crisis

Education and Academic Background

2022– Research Fellow at the GHIL
2019-2022 Lecturer at the chair of Prof. Dr. Claudia Opitz-Belakhal, University of Basel (Switzerland)
2016-2019 Research Fellow in the Swiss National Science Foundation Project “Exploring the Orient and finding oneself. Knowledge and research in the context of the German-Danish Arab Expedition (1761-1767)” [transl.], University of Basel
2014-2019 Ph.D in History, University of Basel
2008-2014 Studies at the Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg im Breisgau (Germany); Double major in History and German

Fellowships, Grants, and Scholarships

2022 Research Grant by Vögelin-Bienz-Stiftung, Staatsarchiv Basel
2022 Travel Grant by Schweizerische Akademie der Geistes- und Sozialwissenschaften
2021 Grant for a Fellowship at the Center for Urban History Antwerpen (declined) by Freiwillige Akademische Gesellschaft, Basel
2021 Funding of an Open Access publication by Swiss National Science Foundation
2021 Funding international conference “Objektzeiten”, University of Basel (with Julian Zimmermann); by Basel Graduate School of History, Young Talent Fund of the University of Basel, Foundation “Humanism Today”, University of Freiburg
2014-2016 Starting scholarship for doctoral studies at the Basel Graduate School of History, University of Basel
2014 Shortcuts Fellowship at the Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology for doctoral studies, University of Bielefeld
2012-2014 Deutschlandstipendium (State scholarship program for talented and high-achieving students), University of Freiburg

Honours and Distinctions

2021 Nomination for the Teaching Excellence Awards 2021 of the University of Basel in the categories “Future Talents” and “Service to Teaching”

Memberships and Affiliations

  • Historikerinnennetzwerk Schweiz
  • Renaissance Society of America
  • European Society for Environmental History
  • Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Geschichte (SGG)



Monographs and Edited Volumes

Wann war Arabien? Historische Zeiterfahrungen im Kontext einer Forschungsreise (1761-1767) (Köln, 2021) (Read here)

Articles and Chapters

‘Organische Ganzheiten. Carolyn Merchant und die sozio-ökologischen Utopien der Frühen Neuzeit’, L'Homme. Europäische Zeitschrift für Feministische Geschichtswissenschaft [under review].

‘Unzählige Dinge vor Augen. Antiquarische Evidenzerzeugung in Reiseberichten des 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts’, in Antje Flüchter et al. (eds.), Plausibilisierungsdynamiken und Evidenzpraktiken von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart, (Bielefeld, 2023) [under review].

‘Reisetexte, europäische’, in Markus Krajewski et al. (eds.), Enzyklopädie der Genauigkeit (Constance, 2021), 418–30.

‘Das Ruinenfeld als „Merkwürdigkeit“ und „Kontaktzone“. Die Ägyptenberichte der dänischen Arabien-Expedition (1761–1767)’, in Joachim Eibach; Claudia Opitz-Belakhal (eds.), Zwischen Kulturen. Mittler und Grenzgänger vom 17. bis 19. Jahrhundert (Hannover, 2018), 93–118.

‘The Perception of Time and Space in the Travelogues of the Royal Danish Expedition to Arabia, in Anne Haslund Hansen (ed.), Arrivals: The Life of the Royal Danish Expedition to Arabia 1767-2017 (Copenhagen, 2017), 57–68.

‘Den danske ekspedition til Arabien. Tid og rum i dens rejsebeskrivelser’, in Anne Haslund Hansen (ed.), Hjembragt. 1767-2017. 250 år efter Carsten Niebuhrs Arabiske Rejse (Copenhagen 2017), 57–68.

‘Knowledge About the “Orient” Between Voice and Scripture. Michel De Certeau and the Royal Danish Expedition to Arabia Felix (1761–1767)’, InterDisciplines. Journal of History and Sociology, 8 (2017), 41–68. (Read here)

Reviews and Miscellaneous Publications


A. Kranen, Historische Topographien: Bilder europäischer Reisender im Osmanischen Reich um 1700, Burlington Magazine, 163 (2021), 971–72.

Blog posts

‘A village within a city. Der Londoner Wohnkomplex Barbican und die Wohnutopien des 20. Jahrhunderts’, Blog #MWSLieblingsorte der Max Weber Stiftung, 7 December 2022 [Read here

Conference review of Theory and Empiricism. Approaches to History Between Description and Abstraction, University of Basel (8–9 Oct. 2015), H-Soz-u-Kult, 14 January 2016 [Read here]