Alf Lüdtke’s work: A philosophy of history for democratic societies in the age of globalisation

The work and ideas of Alf Lüdtke
By Carola Dietze

In her paper, Carola Dietze underlines the richness and diversity of Alf Lüdtke’s work. Methodologically, it is in line with the Alltagsgeschichte current and historical anthropology and is characterised by a collective and generous practice of history. It expresses and contains a philosophy of history in and for democratic societies in an interconnected world. In doing so, Alf Lüdtke distinguished himself at an early stage from the dominant historiographical currents of the 1980s. Those inspired by the theories of modernisation propose a progress-oriented history, a determinism that he rejected. He pursued his own path thanks to patient and meticulous empirical work that enabled him to re-establish the ordinary individual as an actor in history by taking unique experiences seriously without abstracting them from the historical contexts that make them possible and give them meaning. Eigensinn allows us to account for this difficult dialectical relationship between individual autonomy and collective constraint, between determinism and free will.

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