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Zentrum Geschichte des Wissens

Universität Zürich

Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich

Zentrum Geschichte des Wissens

Universität Zürich

Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich

NIKI RHYNER

Dorf, Heimat, Industrie, 1950–1985: The Europe of the »Applied« Humanities and Social Sciences


This project focuses on the history of knowledge of Europe's cultural and economic integration. The formation of the EU's present political and economic structure was, as a process, neither straightforward nor uncontroversial. It often reflected painful changes in ways of life and work, including the radical transformation of rural regions through industrial expansion, the mechanisation of everyday life, and the continued rationalisation of work. These changes heavily affected often neglected rural areas that can thus be regarded as the overlooked hotspots of modernising Europe. Specific measures, such as economic stimulus programmes directed at impoverished regions, had both a political and economic dimension – as well as a scholarly one. Scholars of Volkskunde (folklore studies) were deeply invested in understanding these hubs of change, for which they created three categories: Dorf (village), Heimat (homeland), and Industrie (industry).

In this project, the history of European integration will therefore be investigated from the ostensibly peripheral locations to which researchers and academics travelled. The source material for this project – documentation from the four researchers under study as well as documents on infrastructure programmes, industrialisation projects and regional development plans – will be investigated from a transnational, history-of-knowledge perspective so as to analyse the embeddedness of the empirical research produced by Volkskunde scholars in the process of European integration.