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The Paris-Berlin Research Trunk Line : Ten Years of Communication and never a Bad Connection

The Marc Bloch Center, a “Franco-German Enclave” in the Social Sciences

The creation of a Franco-German center for research in the social sciences, the Marc Bloch Center, was decided jointly by the French and German governments following the fall of the Berlin wall. Established on December 9 of 1992 and inaugurated in 1994, the Center was conceived as a place for exchange between French and German researchers. The Center hosts scientists from across the social sciences including historians, geographers, sociologists, economists, anthropologists, political scientists, and legal scholars.

The break in recent European history caused by the end of the Communist regimes brought a whole new area of social science investigation into being, and it also signaled a time of renewed exchange among researchers of various nationalities, especially French and Germans, but involving many researchers from Central and Eastern Europe as well.

Resolutely plurisdiscplinary in its outlook, the Center hosts scientists from all social science and related disciplines. Its actions include both those of a research center and of a doctoral school, while its originality lies in its emphasis on Franco-German integration. This emphasis has scientific, intellectual, and political implications, but above all it is treated from the perspective of the extension of the European Union. The Center therefore works closely with research institutes and groups from various European countries and most notably Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic.

Research at the Marc Bloch Center is organised around four themes:
A changing Europe
Under this heading is grouped all research relative to the transformation of Eastern Europe but also and more generally all research into the social and political reconfigurations taking place across the Continent. Transformations are occurring in areas such as the role of the State and public policies, political parties, what a European public space might look like, the notion of multiple forms of adherence, etc.
("European public space - East Germany, Eastern Europe -  Economic change in the welfare state")
Comparative History, Sociology and Law
This research area focuses primarily on the history and current practices of these disciplines in a France/Germany comparative context. The close link between the study of scholarly practice in the social science disciplines and that of their histories takes account of the recent shift in the epistemology of the humanities which now tends to attach fundamental importance to historical reflexivity.
("History and comparative historiography – History and practice of the social sciences – Comparative law")
History, Collective Memory and the Restructuring of Political Identities
This research area unites the work of historians, germanists and political scientists, both those who focus on German history of the 20th Century and those who work on Eastern Europe.
("Migration, state, and society – Uses of the past – History of Nazism and of the Shoah – Immigration/emigration research – Power and society: history and theory")
Islam in Europe
This research theme covers works on contemporary Islam including transplanted Islam and migratory phenomena, from a perspective comparing French and German approaches (scientific traditions, intellectual paradigms) to a subject whose topical interest puts it at the forefront of issues faced by a changing Europe. Also taken into account is the emergence of new factors such as the transnational dynamic of the circulation of people and idea and the constitution of diasporas.

The Marc Bloch Center is by now a well established fixture in the academic milieu of Berlin. It contributes effectively in many ways to the development and structure of a European scientific community in the area of the social sciences.

The Marc Bloch Center is a research center under the joint administrative auspices of the French Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Research Ministry. Since 2001 it has benefited from funding by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.




Catherine Colliot-Thélène
Director of the Centre Marc-Bloch
Tel: +49 30 20 93 37 95/96

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