What is Transatlantic Perspectives?

Transatlantic Perspectives is a four year historical research project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and located at the German Historical Institute in Washington, DC.  The project examines transcultural perspectives on Europe, the emergence of hybrid European identities among European migrants in the United States, and the role these migrants played in transnational transfers between the 1930s and 1980s.

When did this project begin?

The research on the Transatlantic Perspectives project began in summer 2010, and will continue until mid-2014.  This website was launched in June 2011; we will continue to add new articles and resources to the website for the duration of the research project.

What is the purpose of the website?

The Transatlantic Perspectives website contains articles on three crosscutting themes: individual migrants and their transatlantic careers; transatlantic institutions and networks that facilitated transfers; and mutual perceptions of Europe and the United States during the second half of the twentieth century.

We also provide documents, bibliographies, links to archival records, and tools and resources for educators. The website is intended to connect Transatlantic Perspectives to the wider academic community, to promote further research at the intersection of Europeanization and transatlantic migration, and to share knowledge. We therefore welcome contributions from scholars in various disciplines.

Who is the target audience?

The website is designed for students, educators, researchers from a variety of academic disciplines, and anybody who is interested.

How do I use this website?

There are many ways to use the Transatlantic Perspectives website. You can browse the individual entries and explore connections between migrants, institutions, and transfers in the context of the postwar Atlantic world. You can also systematically research specific professional networks by making use of the bibliographies and archival information. Educators can draw on the tools provided to design lessons, class-room activities, or research assignments.

What is a transfer?

We define a transfer as the import or export of ideas, methodologies, or practices across national or cultural boundaries. Transfers usually involve a complex process of adaptation to make the ideas or practices amenable to the needs and circumstances of the receiving society.

What is your definition of Europe?

The boundaries and understandings of Europe have undergone continuous historical change and are contested to this day. While most of the migrants discussed in our project come from Central Europe this area is not the exclusive focus of the project. Rather than focusing on a geographical definition, we are dealing with perceptions of what historical actors considered to be European and how ideas of Europe were constructed in contemporary debates. Thus European can relate to specific professional practices or stylistic forms such as “European business cultures” or “European cities,” or it can refer to an understanding of Europe as a body of shared cultural or even political traditions that transcend national categories. For some “Europe” or being “European” also became an element of their personal self-identification.

Why does the project focus on the period from the 1930s to the 1980s?

The main focus of the project is on transatlantic exchanges during the decades following World War II, a period characterized by the Cold War and American influences on Western Europe. Many of the migrants considered, however, arrived in the United States during the interwar period, especially during the 1930s as refugees from the National Socialist regime. Their careers typically lasted through the 1970s. Restrictions on access to archival materials and the fundamental change in transatlantic relations due to the revolutions of 1989/90 also influenced the decision to choose the 1980s as the endpoint of our investigation.

Can I contact the research team?

Of course!  Simply fill out the secure contact form to get in touch with any member of the research team.