Professor of European History
Bernhard Rieger is a Professor of European History at the institute for History.
After studying in Erlangen, Oxford and at Humboldt University Berlin for my undergraduate degree, I received my PhD from University College London in 1999. Before my appointment in Leiden, I worked at Iowa State University, Jacobs University in Bremen and University College London, where I remain an honorary professor.
My research places European history since the late nineteenth century in global contexts, paying particular attention to connections with the USA as well as Latin America. My work has examined how humankind has dramatically reshaped the natural, social and political worlds over the last century. Since these issues cannot be explored within the confines of the nation state, comparative and transnational approaches are central to my research.
I have published on Germany, Britain, the USA, and Mexico. My first book "Technology and the Culture of Modernity in Britain and Germany, 1890-1945" examined the fascination for technology that swept Europe between the late nineteenth century and World War II, focusing on the wide-ranging and passionate debates about modernity through which British and German societies construed a cultural climate conduce to technological change. My second book "The People's Car: A Global History of the Volkswagen Beetle" (2013) traces the VW Beetle's journey from failed National Socialist prestige project to lasting prominence in Western Europe, the United States and Latin America. Funding for these projects has, among others, come from the National Science Foundation (USA), the British Academy and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK).
Fields of interest
In recent years, my interests have extended to the proliferation and effects of the market-fundamentalist policies that are often subsumed under the label “neoliberalism.” Tentatively entitled “Making Society Work Again,” my current long-term project addresses the history of unemployment since the 1960s, exploring changes in welfare policies and their repercussions for individuals in the US, Great Britain and Germany.
My teaching focuses on the twentieth century with a particular emphasis on contemporary history.
Grants and awards
My work has received several awards including the Hagley Prize in Business History, the Binkley-Stephenson Prize from the Organization of American Historians, and a Bessel Prize from the Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation. I have featured on BBC television and radio programmes and regularly work with museums including the British Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum.