Jürgen Kocka, born in Hejnice, Czech Republic, in 1941. Ph.D. from the Freie Universität Berlin. Professor of History at the Freie Universität Berlin and Permanent Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin.
Guest of the Rector (Fall 2000)
It is not easy to return to an unfinished project that was started a quarter of a century ago. During my stay at NIAS, as Guest of the Rector, from early October to late December 2000, I concentrated on the history of workers and labour movements in Germany, c 1800 to c 1880. After having published two volumes on the topic a long time ago, I am now in the process of writing the third and final volume, which deals with the workers outside the work place and gives an outline of the emerging labour movements. At NIAS I wrote several chapters dealing with family and survival, schools and religion, language, representation and working-class culture, on the basis of materials I had collected before. Interest in labour history has drastically declined. Can and should it be revived? Approaches have changed over the last decades. A shift towards cultural history took place, constructivism became strong, interest in language has grown, Marxism declined. What does this mean for a project originally conceived in the 1970s? Such questions made the return to this topic very interesting for me. To discuss them with other Fellows and to work on them under the excellent conditions of NIAS, was an outstanding experience.