Dan Diner

senior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2014/2015
discipline History
Professor of Modern European History, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Research project

Globalizing World War II-Memory. Entangling Continental and Colonial Histories


“Globalizing WWII-Memory” sets out to examine the epistemic premises innate to universalizing historical experience, by scrutinizing the quest for historical understanding and moral judgment against the backdrop of an emerging global cultural environment, fraught with multiple recollections, while using memories of World War II as the empirical core of the study. The pivotal constellation of research emerges by interfacing a horizontal (West-East) alignment traditionally significant for continental European history with a vertically oriented alignment (North-South) that sheds a colonial and post-colonial perspective on World War II. This constellation tends to lead a posteriori to a realm of conflicting, morally permeated discourses of comparison and analogy, revealing the Holocaust to function as the central event of continental narration, on the one hand, while genocidal atrocities highlight the colonial or post-colonial comprehension, perception and narration, on the other. Methodologically, and in order to offer a fresh and innovative view of the emergence of the specifics of knowledge and meaning in the domain of historical understanding in a globalizing world, while placing the signifying event of the Nazis’ systematic annihilation of the Jews at the heart of the question of universal historical judgment, the project proceeds from the colonial periphery of events, however. Insofar it extends the sphere of events in time and space, letting WWII begin with the Japanese invasion of Manchuria 1931, the occupation of Iran 1941, the fall of fortress Singapore 1942, the battle of El-Alamein, the Bengali famine 1943 and other iconic events combining continental and colonial repercussions. This “peripheral” perspective will in a further seemingly paradoxical turn find itself extended into continental European affairs where it functions to help us comprehend the multiplicity of experiences and the diversity of attendant memories unfolding there, i.e. iconic events on the continents which represent a different “logic” of events and its inscription in memory, as the massacre of Katyn, the Finnish “war of continuity”, etc. Such a research perspective may epistemologically enable us to reconstruct a universally convincing and valid understanding of a foundational event in European and global history, namely the recollection of World War II, and thus render possible common judgment while re-determining the meaning of “History”.



Dan Diner is Professor of Modern European History at the History Departement of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is a Regular Member of the Philological-Historical Class of the Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig. He holds a Ph.D in International Law from the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt am Main.


Dan Diner was the recipient of the Ernst-Bloch-Preis der Stadt Ludwigshafen in 2006, the 2007 Capalbio Award for his book Il tempo sospeso: Stasi e crisi nel mondo musulmano and the 2013 Leipziger Wissenschaftspreis. He directs the longterm project ‘Encyclopedia of Jewish European Cultures’ at the Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig and a European Research Council Advanced Grant project, ‘Judging Histories’, based at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


Selected publications


Rituelle Distanz. Israels deutsche Frage, DVA Verlag, Munich, 2015.


'Between Empire and Nation State. Outline for a European Contemporary History of the Jews, 1750–1950', in O. Bartov & E.D. Weitz, (eds), Shatterzone of Empires. Coexistence and Violence in the German, Habsburg, Russian, and Ottoman Borderlands, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 2013, pp. 61–80. 


Deutsche Zeiten. Geschichte und Lebenswelt. Festschrift zur Emeritierung von Moshe Zimmermann, with Y. Weiss & G. Reuveni, (eds), Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen/Bristol, 2012.


'Reimagining Enlightenment. In Pursuit of Prudent Modernity', New German Critique, vol. 117, 2012, pp. 25–32. 


'Memory displaced. Re-reading Jean Amérys 'Torture', Eurozine [online journal], May 8, 2012. English translation of: „Verschobene Erinnerung. Jean Amérys Die Tortur wiedergelesen“, Zeitschrift des Hamburger Institutes für Sozialforschung, vol. 2, 2012, pp. 21–27.  


'Topography of Interpretation. Reviewing Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands', Contemporary European History, vol. 21, no. 2, 2012, pp. 125–131.


Zeitenschwelle. Gegenwartsfragen an die Geschichte, Pantheon, München, 2010. 


Lost in the Sacred. Why the Muslim World Stood Still, Princeton, N. J., 2009. English translation of: Versiegelte Zeit. Über den Stillstand in der islamischen, Welt, Berlin, 2005. 


Cataclysms. A History of the Twentieth Century from Europe’s Edge, University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, 2008. English translation of: Das Jahrhundert verstehen. Eine universalhistorische Deutung, Luchterhand Literaturverlag, Munich, 1999. 


Restitution and Memory. Material Restoration in Europe, with G. Wunberg, (eds), Berghahn Books, New York/Oxford, 2007.



senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2013/2014
Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS)
discipline Anthropology
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2017/2018
Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS)
discipline History
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2018/2019
Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS)
discipline Philosophy and Islamic Studies
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2016/2017
Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS)
discipline Social Anthropology