Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies

Breadcrumb Navigation

Arndt, Melanie

Prof. Dr. Melanie Arndt

Affiliated Researcher –
Former Postdoc


Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Historisches Seminar
Lehrstuhl für Wirtschafts-, Sozial- und Umweltgeschichte

Rempartstr. 15 – Kollegiengebäude IV - Raum: 4408
79085 Freiburg im Breisgau

Phone: +49 (0)761-203-3442

Website: Webprofile

Research Project

Tschernobyl. Eine transnationale Geschichte — abgeschlossen

Chernobyl. A Transnational History — completed

Postdoctoral Project at the Graduate School

The fundamental ecological transformations of the 20th century – the "environmental age" – were marked by an acceleration of developments in a whole range of environmental realms, in particular expanding use of fossil fuels, population growth, application of new technologies, and urbanization. In particular, the development of "peaceful" nuclear energy, increasingly promoted worldwide since the 1960s, contributed to the emergence of transnational environmental risks whose unintended consequences extended far beyond territorial borders, transcending even Cold War divisions. Radiation and in some places just the threat of radioactive contamination transformed nature - the ecology of landscape and resources along with the ecology of the human body - from something knowable, comprehensible, and roughly predictable to something half-known, incomprehensible, and unpredictable. These changes to nature took place both in the West and in the East and "cultures of coping" (Greg Bankoff) with these changes had to be developed in both places. Although historians have in recent years explored disasters, much remains to be done to illuminate their "man made variations," especially nuclear disasters, not only in terms of nuclear accidents but in the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons testing.

Please also see an overview of her project in the Graduate School's Newsletter Nr. 4, Summer Semester 2015.

Curriculum Vitae

Melanie Arndt studied political science, Eastern European studies and modern history in Potsdam, Berlin and London. She received her PhD from Humboldt University Berlin in 2008 with a dissertation on the health policies in divided Berlin, 1948–1961, which was published 2009 (Böhlau). In 2019 she completed her Habilitation at Regensburg University with a study on the transnational history of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. From 2004-2012 she worked at the Center for Contemporary History, Potsdam, from 2008-2012 as the director of the international research project "Politics and Society after Chernobyl: Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Lithuania, and Germany." From 2012-2017 she had been working at the Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies, Regensburg, from 2014 as co-director of the French-German research project "Contemporary Environmental History of the Soviet Union and the Successor States, 1970-2000. Ecological Globalization and Regional Dynamics" (together with Klaus Gestwa, Tübingen, and Marc Elie, Paris). She has also been a member of the Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies in Regensburg and until July 2018 she worked at the University of Regensburg. Melanie Arndt has taught at Humboldt University Berlin, Potsdam University, the European Humanities University Vilnius / Minsk in Lithuania, Zurich and Regensburg University. She was a fellow at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich (2012) and at the Stanford Humanities Center, California (2013/2014).  Arndt is member of the editorial board of the journal "Zeithistorische Forschungen / Studies in Contemporary History" and the online platform "Zeitgeschichte Online / Contemporary History Online."

Positions, Assignments and Memberships

  • Former Member of the Study Group "Knowledge, Space, Environment"
  • Co-director of the research project "Contemporary Environmental History of the Soviet Union and the Successor States, 1970-2000."
  • Executive editor of Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas (JGO)
  • Editorial board member of the journal "Zeithistorische Forschungen / Studies in Contemporary History" and the online platform "Zeitgeschichte Online / Contemporary History Online."


  • Mentoring program for women in academic leadership positions, Leibniz Association, 2011-2012.
  • Special Jury Award for Interdisciplinarity, Potsdam Congress Award, 2011.


List of publications (IOS Regensburg website)

Presentations (selected)

"Knowledge and Ignorance on the Move: The Power of Disaster (Non-)Knowledge". (Jahrestagung der Graduiertenschule für Ost- und Südosteuropastudien "Studying East and Southeast Europe as Area Studies: Paradigms - Themes - Methods for the 21st Century", München, 25.-27.10.2018)

See More Presentations (IOS Regensburg website)