AHA Member Spotlight: Daniel Brückenhaus
Daniel Brückenhaus is an assistant professor of history at Beloit College. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin, and has been a member since 2011.
Alma mater: PhD, Yale University, 2011
Fields of interest: imperialism, anti-imperialism, modern Europe
Describe your career path. What led you to where you are today? I have been fascinated by history since about the age of six, but I would not have expected to end up in the US. I was born in Germany and did my undergraduate work there, at Bielefeld University. My first US experience was during a year as an exchange student at Johns Hopkins University. I then applied to graduate schools in the US and began my PhD at Yale University in 2004. After a year as a postdoc at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, Germany, in 2011–12, I returned to the US to start my current job at Beloit College. Over the years I have been supported by many great mentors, especially my dissertation advisor Ute Frevert, who I have known since my college years, and who in many ways has shaped my vision of how to “do history.”
What do you like the most about where you live and work? I appreciate the close interactions with students, both in the classroom and beyond, that my current job at a small liberal arts college allows. At the same time, I am grateful to my colleagues in the history department and beyond for providing me with the time and resources to continue pursuing my research and writing career.
What projects are you currently working on? Currently my main focus is on my second book project, which explores how members of anticolonial movements during the 19th and 20th centuries used laughter, satire, and ridicule to challenge imperial rule. It argues that these strategies were quite successful because they put the colonizers in a difficult situation, as any attempt to curb such subversive humor made the authorities look, simultaneously, autocratic and vulnerable. I plan to devote an upcoming academic leave in 2018–19, supported by an ACLS fellowship, to research and writing for this project.
Is there an article, book, movie, blog etc. that you could recommend to fellow AHA members? Recently, one of my favorite online resources has been the Global Urban History blog at https://globalurbanhistory.com/. It is full of innovative ideas about how to bring together the study of small-scale urban environments with that of long-distance networks spanning the globe as a whole.
What do you value most about the history discipline? I value the enormous freedom that history as a discipline gives us. This is especially true today, when the range of primary sources that historians use has come to encompass virtually any text or object created in the past, and when historians can draw upon theoretical inspirations from a wide range of disciplines throughout the humanities and social sciences. I think that the discipline of history is important in helping us look beyond the surface level of small-scale events and see broader, long-term trends. Through inviting comparisons across time, our discipline challenges the notion that the status quo is natural or timeless. Studying history thus reminds us not to take for granted what we have achieved as a society, and gives us hope that it is not only necessary, but also possible, to challenge current-day structures of violence and injustice.
AHA members are involved in all fields of history, with wide-ranging specializations, interests, and areas of employment. To recognize our talented and eclectic membership, Perspectives Daily features a regular AHA Member Spotlight series.
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