Professor Jürgen Osterhammel. Photo: Universität Konstanz
Professor Jürgen Osterhammel. Photo: Universität Konstanz

Researching connected history

Konstanz Historian Jürgen Osterhammel awarded the Balzan Prize 2018 for Global History

For several decades, the historian Professor Jürgen Osterhammel, professor of modern and contemporary history at the University of Konstanz from 1999 to March 2018, has decisively influenced his subject area, nationally as well as internationally. For his fundamental contributions to global history and its definition as a semi-autonomous subdiscipline, Jürgen Osterhammel was awarded the Balzan Prize 2018 for Global History on 10 September. The renowned international Balzan Prize is endowed with prize money of 750,000 Swiss francs (670,000 euros) and is annually awarded in four rotating disciplines.

Jürgen Osterhammel's academic publications are exceptionally broad in focus and diversity. Transcending the conventional classification into political, social, economic or cultural history, his far-reaching studies cross the borders to neighbouring disciplines and cover a period of around three hundred years from the 18th century to the present. His eleven books, some printed in several editions, were rewarded with broad approval. Translations in seventeen languages have been published or are underway. Geographically extensive, too, his historical work impresses the reader through “his method, which combines the rigour of empirical research while opening onto wide perspectives in an admirably balanced way”, Andrea Giardina, Professor of Roman History at the Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa, explains the reasons for assigning the Balzan Prize to Jürgen Osterhammel.

The subject areas in which the awards are granted are rotated every year to recognize research in the fields of the humanities, social sciences and the arts, as well as in the natural sciences, physics, mathematics and medicine – fields that are, in contrast to the more traditional areas of science, highly specialized and interdisciplinary in scope. This year's prize winners, in addition to Jürgen Osterhammel for Global History, are: Marilyn Strathern, University of Cambridge, for Social Anthropology, Detlef Lohse, University of Twente, for Fluid Dynamics, Eva Kondorosi, Research Centre of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, for Chemical Ecology. The Balzan Prize for Humanity, Peace and Fraternity Among Peoples was attributed to Terre des Hommes (Switzerland). To promote up-and-coming researchers, the laureates are obliged to spend half of the prize money to finance research projects preferably conducted by early career researchers.


  • Konstanz historian Professor Jürgen Osterhammel is awarded the Balzan Prize 2018 for Global History
  • The award recognizes Osterhammel's extensive research work as well as his part in defining global history as a subdiscipline of history
  • The Balzan Prize is awarded annually in four rotating disciplines and is endowed with prize money of 750,000 Swiss francs (670,000 euros). The laureates spend half of the prize money mainly for the promotion of early career researchers.
  • Jürgen Osterhammel follows Arno Borst (Balzan laureate 1996) and is the university’s second historian to earn the Balzan Prize. Last year, the Konstanz researchers Aleida and Jan Assmann won the Balzan Prize 2017 in the category “Collective Memory”.