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Facultas Docendi for Melanie Arndt and Jasper Trautsch

University of Regensburg awards the teaching qualification after successful habilitations of two Affiliated Researchers


On Wednesday, January 23, 2019, Dr. Melanie Arndt and Dr. Jasper Trautsch, two former postdoctoral researchers and now affiliated researchers of the Graduate School, were awarded with the Facultas Docendi, the academic teaching qualification, by the University of Regensburg. In this way, the responsible university committees honor the two habilitation papers. The habilitation procedures are thus successfully completed.

With the awarding of the teaching qualification and the formal completion of the habilitation procedure, Arndt and Trautsch can now also apply for the university teaching authorization (Venia Legendi) and the status of a "Privatdozent" (private lecturer) as prerequisite for becoming a full professor.

Habiliation Thesis by Dr. habil. Melanie Arndt

The habilitation thesis of Dr. Melanie Arndt is about "Chernobyl Children: The Transnational History of a Nuclear catastrophe". It examines the interplay of nuclear catastrophe and the collapse of a political order as a "micro-history of the global" using the example of the transnational networks that emerged around the so-called "Chernobyl children" from the late 1980s. More than one million Belarussian, Ukrainian and Russian children/adolescents were sent to other regions of the Soviet Union, and later to more than thirty countries, for several weeks or months after the disaster on 26 April 1986, together with thousands of accompanying persons. There they were to recover from the radiation exposure, but increasingly also from everyday life in the (post-)Soviet collapse society. Around the "Chernobyl children" a dense transnational network of non-governmental organizations and private individuals was formed. Together with new native non-governmental organizations, they undertook tasks in the (post-)Soviet republics, which had previously been the state's concern. The realization that the Soviet system was not even able to provide for the integrity of "his" children made the population's last hopes for a better socialist future disappear. The competition for the most humane modernity was lost.

The study shows why individuals and groups began to be interested in the recent victims of a catastrophe at the other end of the geographic and ideological world. This study shows on which ideas of social and political orders in the consequent engagements were based upon and how they were discursively located and legitimized. "Chernobyl" brought movement into East-West relations far beyond material and humanitarian aid. The global engagement that began with the opening up of the Soviet Union helped to make the atomic accident, which in many parts of the world was initially declared "typically Soviet," visible and perceptible as a transnational catastrophe. It brought the reality of the disaster into the daily lives of hundreds of thousands of people in Europe and North America. At the same time, the "Chernobyl children" were witnesses and representatives of a declining political-social system and the dissolution of the bipolar world order.

The study is based on archival research from five countries and more than 50 oral history interviews. It contributes to a transnational environmental and disaster history as well as to the history of the late phase of the Cold War and the history of humanitarianism.

Habiliation Thesis by Dr. habil. Jasper Trautsch

The titel of Dr. Jasper Trautsch's habilitation is "Remapping Europe and Imagining the Atlantic Community: A Conceptual History of the West". This habilitation thesis is a history of the concept of the West as it developed in the modern period. It traces the concept’s origins, reconstructs its multiple meanings, and examines which political actors used it for what purposes and to what effect in the past. On the one hand, it thus investigates how Europe was repeatedly remapped in the 19th and 20th century, as the concept of the West divided the Continent, which had previously been horizontally separated into a “North” and a “South” on historical contemporaries’ mental maps, vertically into Western, Central, and Eastern Europe in the 19th century and into “the West” and an “East” in the 20th century, the dividing line(s) adjusting to changing political circumstances. On the other hand, the habilitation thesis analyzes how North America and Western Europe were imagined to form an transatlantic community, i.e. how the Atlantic Ocean was reconceived as a bridge connecting societies on both of its sides rather than a barrier that set two separate civilizations apart from each other.

The study is primarily concerned with the period from the 1830s to the 1950s, as it was within this era that the modern concept of the West emerged, that it became a fundamental concept in the political vocabulary in Western Europe and North America, and that its four major modern conceptualizations developed: 1.) "The West" could refer to a political community of states with shared liberal values. 2.) "The West" could be used as a synonym for "modern civilization," i.e. all nations that were economically more developed and technologically more advanced than societies in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. 3.) "The West" could function as a racial category connoting the group of (predominantly) "white" countries, i.e. comprising all of Europe and its settler societies in North America, South Africa, and the South Pacific. 4.) "The West" could mean a historically grown cultural community of societies that had grown out of the West Roman Empire and were shaped by a non-Orthodox Christian heritage.

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