Personlig profil


Borders, regions and a regional perspective on history, culture and societies characterize most of my research. My approach questions national traditions and their interpretation of political, cultural or economic relations that typically originate from a simplified centre-periphery relation. This has led me to study history and the role of regions in nation building processes, especially concerning Denmark, Germany and Italy.

The specific category of border regions brings together an interest in regions as historic entities and research categories, and the need to pay more attention to history seen from the peripheries instead of conventionally from the centre. I am interested in the spatial character of borders – a historical approach makes it possible to value their dynamic and changing role. Borders and regions are fundamental, but oftentimes neglected constituent elements of European integration.

Danish-German relations: The Danish-German border region and, more generalized, the historical relations between the respective neighbours have taken a prominent position in my research. I have written treatises and articles on different aspects of this multi-layered dependency. With the ambition of looking beyond national interpretations I am currently finishing a historical survey of those relations.

The Cimbrian Peninsula: With the present border between Denmark and Germany the historic continuity of the Cimbrian Peninsula's land bridge was broken. Past relations and modern ideas for a revival of a region of transformation sometimes must be unpinned from its nation state context. This establishes the possibility to compare a region and its history with other European borderlands, hence breaking up the long tradition of focussing on isolated regions.

From line to space: Borders are still too often understood as simple dividing lines. They are much more than that. Seen in a contemporary context even the borderline itself seems to transform, and by doing so it sometimes loses its exclusivity. My spatial approach takes a larger context, takes movements and influences from both sides of the border into consideration. Danish borders need to be seen in their relation to other borders, resulting in a better comprehension of their function in a European reality.


As a historian I find it essential to combine research and strong relations to the public outside academia. Both writing and lectures are meant to be read and understood by a broader public. I see myself building bridges and making academic and intellectual discussions accessible. This applies as well to the need to relate Danish political and scientific topics to those relevant outside the narrow national focus. Danish debates are too often unaware of their international context. They need a more international approach.

The historic dimension is a decisive component for understanding the present reality. It gives a broader understanding of multiplicity, dynamism and changes. We should never just look at history retrospectively. I prefer the more productive approach of futures past (vergangene Zukunft) – developed and described by Reinhart Koselleck.

I am convinced about the importance of writing books and I have written several monographs. Books make it possible to expand and unfold more complicated problems and historical lines. Obviously not all themes are suitable for a whole treatise and therefore should be presented in a more limited space. Fortunately, we have the possibility to combine different approaches to show a larger picture. The resulting publication of anthologies are very useful to analyse a research question from different angles. In that sense I appreciate my research group as a base from which to relate scientific results to the wider public as well as an important resource of inspiration, reflection and support.


European regions, regional history, 19th century and contemporary history, European integration, nationalism, nation states, conglomerate states, regionalism, Danish-German relations, Ideology, planning and architecture in Italian fascism.


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