Lively details and enlightening insights

With the Toynbee Prize, Professor Jürgen Osterhammel has received another prestigious award for his research work

Konstanz-based historian Professor Jürgen Osterhammel, professor of modern and contemporary history at the University of Konstanz, has been awarded the Toynbee Prize 2017. This was announced by the selection committee of the Toynbee Prize Foundation. Professor Jeremy Adelman, historian at the University of Princeton (USA) and member of the foundation’s board of trustees, declared that Osterhammel’s work displayed an unparalleled grasp of wide-ranging historiographical traditions and the ability to combine lively empirical details and enlightening conceptual insights. The award ceremony will take place on 6 January 2017 in the framework of the Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association in Denver (USA).

Jürgen Osterhammel became famous beyond expert circles in particular through his book “The Transformation of the World”. When his global history of the 19th century appeared in 2009, it met with a tremendous response and received numerous awards, including some of the most esteemed prizes awarded in Germany for research and research communication. The English translation appeared in 2014 as a revised and updated version published by Princeton University Press. Translations in nine languages have since been published or are underway. The award decision cites a reviewer’s opinion that it was “undoubtedly the most important achievement so far by a German-speaking historian in the 21st century”.

The “Transformation of the World” is only one of Jürgen Osterhammel’s many publications in the field of global history. His “History of Globalisation”, which appeared in 2003 and was written together with Niels P. Peterson, attracted wide acclaim and was translated into several languages. He is currently publishing a history of the world in six volumes in cooperation with Akira Iriye of Harvard University (USA), which is appearing in both German and English at the same time. The fourth volume has just been issued. Currently he is revising the English version of his book “The Demystification of Asia”.

Jürgen Osterhammel has been professor of modern and contemporary history at the University of Konstanz since 1999. He is a member of the Leopoldina, the German National Academy of Sciences, as well as of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the Academia Europaea and also Corresponding Member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the Academy of Sciences of Turin and the British Academy. In 2014, he held the 26th Jan Patočka Memorial Lecture at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, following in the footsteps of speakers such as Ralf Dahrendorf, Jacques Derrida and Edward Said. In 2015, he received the Sigmund Freud Prize for Academic Prose of the German Academy for Language and Literature.

The Toynbee Prize Foundation was set up in 1987 to foster the development of the social sciences. It awards the prize every two years to outstanding researchers in the field of global history. The foundation was named after Arnold J. Toynbee (1889-1975), philosopher of history and universal historian. The prize winners to date include, amongst others, Lord Ralf Dahrendorf and Sir Christopher Bayly, who died last year.

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