Publication Date

December 1, 1996

Because of the serious financial problems confronting the Max Planck Society in Germany, the society's new president, Hubert Markl, has proposed to close four of the society's research centers. The Max Planck Institute for History in G6ttingen is among the centers scheduled for possible closure.

Historians from many parts of the world have come to G6ttingen since the founding of the Institute in 1956. Many recipients of Alexander von Humboldt awards for research in Germany, for example, choose the Max Planck Institute for History as the place to carry on their work. And since 1988-89, the participation of researchers from eastern Europe has increased dramatically.

The Institute owes its growing international stature in part to the fact that it has been a focal point not only for extending our knowledge in established areas of historical research, but also for encouraging innovative modes of basic research that have had a major influence on historical studies internationally. Such work includes the sophisticated application of computer technology to cultural studies and the recent development of new interpretive methods that have illuminated the medieval culture of memory and the process of secularization, dechristianization, and rechristianization in modem Europe. In addition, the application of historical anthropology to basic research has been developed in a distinct way at the Institute. Indeed, close scrutiny of the theoretical and methodological foundations, conditions, and limitations of historical understanding is an integral part of all of the work done at the Institute.

It is clear that the closing down of the Max Planck Institute for History would have serious consequences for historical research internationally. Those who wish to voice their concern over the proposed closing should write as soon as possible to Präsident der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft zur Forderung der Wissenschaften, Prof. Dr. Hubert Markl, Postfach 10 10 62, 80084 Munchen, Germany.

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