The Utrecht Cultural History research group focuses on the historical investigation of cultural modernity in its international dimension. We conceive of ‘modernity’ as a concept, as a problem, and as a period.
Main research lines
- Transcultural connections in Europe and the World, in particular cultures of consumption, popular culture, postcolonial history, reference cultures, and the history of communication.
- Cultural citizenship in Europe, in relation to visual culture and politics, public history and cultural heritage, and the link between power, religion and ideas.
- Knowledge practices, including the history of science and the humanities (Descartes Centre), the development of expert cultures, and the socio-cultural history of knowledge.
We have particular expertise in the history of the Netherlands, Germany, France, the United States, and the post-Soviet world.
Modernity as a cultural phenomenon
Cultural modernity as a topical problem entails a critical discussion of its origins, trajectory, variations and perceived decline, from a global perspective. Above all, cultural modernity includes a serious practical effort. The ideas and theories that deal with modernity as a cultural phenomenon are not free-floating intellectual artefacts: they confront real situations and actual dilemmas.
Geographically, the Cultural History group focuses on Europe in its relation with the world. We have particular expertise in the history of the Netherlands, Germany, France, the United States, and the post-Soviet world.
Methodologically, the group focuses on both long-established and innovative approaches and methods, including digital humanities, ethnography, praxiography, material culture, and life-writing.