Core Subjects

Austrian History. Austrian History encompasses three complementary geographical areas: first, the territory of today’s Republic of Austria; second, historical Austria in its respective dimensions (i.e. the countries of the Habsburg Monarchy); third, the Austrian provinces (with special attention to the history of Salzburg). Austrian History focuses primarily on the period from the late Middle Ages, to the Enlightenment and the “long 19th century”, through to the First Republic. The main focal points include economic and social development, state formation and political communication.

Contemporary History. Contemporary History is a core subject that encompasses the history of the 20th and 21st centuries and is dedicated to political, economic, social, gender and cultural history from an Austrian and pan-European perspective. In addition, at the University of Salzburg, we pursue global history approaches, which means that we also do research in the field of decolonisation and migration. Furthermore, we focus on topics such as Jewish history, African history and Islam in Europe, as well as aspects relating to crises and revolutions. In the context of Jewish history, research on anti-Semitism and racism, the history of Israel and the Middle East conflict round off the thematic spectrum of Contemporary History in Salzburg.
From a methodological point of view, Salzburg’s Contemporary History is open to theories from adjacent disciplines, in particular from the Social and Cultural Sciences. Owing to their contemporariness, the experience-based approaches of Oral History are significant in combination with other methods. Our close cooperation with Communication Science allows us employ audiovisual methods.

Cultural History. Cultural History’s understanding of culture is extremely broad and includes all human achievements, whether material or intellectual. It emphasises subjective aspects such as contemporaries’ perceptions, experiences and interpretations, as well as historians’ contextual insights. There are various directions within this approach: Historical anthropology interprets culture as a “network of meanings”. Lifeworld analyses emphasise the process of creating meaning in the confrontation of individuals and experience groups with structural conditions. Great importance is attached to the behavioural dimension, also in the form of symbolic interactions. Cultural History, in its broader sense, also includes everyday history, the history of experience and history of mentality, as well as the history of art as a form of reflecting and processing perceptions. The concrete focal points that have emerged in recent years in research and teaching are the cultural history of diplomacy and travel, of gender relations, of inter-ethnic contacts, of topographical-social micro-worlds, of power relations, and problems in peacekeeping.

Economic, Social and Environmental History is one of the core teaching subjects and a field of research. This subject deals with economic and social development, primarily in Europe, over a large time period (especially from the late Middle Ages to the present day). On the one hand, our research and teaching focuses on economic history in the narrower sense, i.e. on researching and explaining development contexts in the areas of work, production and growth as well as the distribution and financing of economic value creation. On the other hand, it also focuses on the history of technology and environmental history, the history of the working society and the performance-driven society, historical consumer research, historical innovation research and historical migration research.

European Regional History. The focus of this subject is on a comparative cultural and structural history of European regions. The time period under study spans several epochs. In research and teaching, the goal is to gain insights and to connect a pan-European horizon of problems with the in-depth examination of individual regions. Critical analyses of historical regional transformation processes – be they of a political, cultural, socio-economic or social-ecological nature – play a central role. This subject builds on the work of comparative regional history and therefore attaches great importance to the continuation of the traditionally close and fruitful cooperation between the University’s Regional History and non-university Salzburg-based institutions for research into the history of the city, the archbishopric, the Crown land and the province of Salzburg. The current main areas of research and teaching are the comparative history of tourism in European regions, the history of the transformation of peripheral regions, the historical development of urban-rural relations and the history of topographical knowledge.

History Didactics / Political Didactics. The didactics imparted in history and political education studies must cover two areas: The school history curriculum must teach pupils how to deal with the past and with history in a reflective and (self-)reflective way. For this purpose, pupils must be able to distinguish between the past on the one hand and history on the other, which is constantly being reconstructed with the help of sources and historical accounts. History didactics provides the necessary theories and methods and sheds light on pupils’ historical thinking by means of empirical studies. Political education, on the other hand, aims to create citoyens, responsible citizens who are able to reflect critically on social conditions and shape them constructively. Political education must equip pupils to form educated opinions on their own political positions and those of others, to understand the effects of political media and to be able to participate in the democratic system. In addition to teaching and research, History and Political Didactics also provides students with support during their practical training in schools.

Medieval History and Complementary Historical Sciences.  Medieval History has always been one of the Department of History’s core subjects in both research and teaching. It begins with a centuries-long period of transformation from the ancient Roman Empire and the smaller Christian, predominantly Germanic-influenced statehood of the early Middle Ages and ends with the transition to an early modern social order in the 15th/16th centuries. Not only does this subject span a long period, but there is also a great variety of approaches in terms of content and methodology: traditional topics such as church, imperial, legal and urban history have recently been complemented by “lifeworld” and cultural-historical as well as interdisciplinary approaches. The current focal points are material culture, histoire croisée, cultural contacts, the cultural history of politics, women’s and gender studies, regional history and religious history. The complementary historical sciences form the historian’s traditional toolbox: they represent the rudiments, especially with the inclusion of new media (cf. the course Klassische Arbeitstechniken [Historical Methods] in the study entry phase, which now has a temporally overlapping approach in this regard).

Modern History. Modern History refers to the period from around 1500 to the early 20th century. Many of the developments that impact our world today originated during this period: the Reformation, Enlightenment, state and nation building, colonisation and globalisation, the development of fundamental rights and human rights, industrialisation, the shift from a class-based society to a civil society, as well as the emergence of the knowledge-based society. At the same time, this era is far removed from our present day in many ways. The first few centuries, in particular, are becoming more and more unfamiliar to us. A specific hallmark of Modern History at the University of Salzburg is its orientation towards cultural-, political-, social- and gender-historical perspectives. Our research and teaching focuses on Habsburg, European and non-European history with emphasis on systems of rule, interculturalism and peacekeeping, the relationship between religion and politics, migration and ethnicity, urban development, cultural transfer, women, gender relations and labour. Source editions are another of features of this core subject.

Non-European History and Global History. This core subject examines the varied history of inter- and supra-regional interactions and exchange relations in the broadest sense. It includes such areas as the history of politics and diplomacy, history of culture, ideas and religions, history of economics, science, technology and medicine, environmental and migration history, and networks and how they work. The period covered ranges from antiquity to the present day, with a particular emphasis on the period between 550 and 1800. Geographically, we concentrate on Asia – especially China – and Eurasia, on the world of the Indian Ocean and the Asia-Pacific region (including Latin and North America) and also explore the exchange relations along the continental and maritime silk roads (Silk Road studies). Our teaching is research driven and takes into account not only written sources, but also archaeological (e.g. graves, shipwrecks) and visual sources. Our students study the many different processes of the increasing interconnection – not just in economic terms – between the various world regions as well as of globalisation. For this purpose, we have also set up the Crossroads Research Group, which carries out various international and interdisciplinary research projects – where possible, with student participation – publishes a scientific journal and two book series, and organises activities such as lectures, international workshops and conferences.