Introducing Kristoff Kerl, our CSMCH-IASH Fellow for 2019-20!

One of the innovations of the CSMCH when it was set up in 2017 was to introduce a 3-month visiting postdoctoral fellowship in modern and contemporary history, in collaboration with the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (IASH). This fellowship was designed to bring an early-career scholar to Edinburgh for a short research visit, with a view to pursuing interdisciplinary research that tied in with the Centre’s chosen theme. After Rakesh Ankit’s residency in 2017-8 and Ljubica Spaskovska and Claudia Stern’s visit in 2018-9, we’re delighted to introduce our fourth CSMCH-IASH Fellow, Kristoff Kerl.

Kristoff Kerl

Kristoff studied German studies, history, social sciences and educational science at the University of Cologne and at the Bergische University Wuppertal. He subsquently completed his PhD in Anglo-American history at the University of Cologne. His thesis dealt with manhood and modern antisemitism in the South of the United States between the 1860s and 1920s and was published in 2017 with Böhlau Verlag. His latest contribution to the study of the history of antisemitism is: ‘Oppression by Orgasm. Pornography and Antisemitism in Far-Right Discourses in the United States since the 1970s’, which is forthcoming in Studies in American Jewish Literature.

After completing his PhD, Kristoff was a research associate and lecturer at the University of Cologne and at Ruhr-University Bochum. From October 2017 until September 2018, he was a fellow at the Zvi Yavetz School of Historical Studies at Tel Aviv University, and he has also held various fellowships at the German Historical Institute in Washington, at Harvard University and at the German Historical Institute in London.

During his time at the CSMCH, Kristoff will be exploring the emergence of countercultures in western countries such as the United States, Great Britain and Western Germany in the 1960s and 1970s. Differing from other factions of the New Left, members of countercultural milieus tried to initiate a cultural revolution and create alternative spaces beyond the influence of capitalist sociation. They countered what they understood as the human alienation in capitalist consumer societies with a politics of the self that was supposed to establish solidarity among communities oriented towards sustainability, ‘naturalness’ and holism. In this context, body politics and body practices played a crucial role. In particular, Kristoff is interested in how counterculturists conceived of ‘politics of ecstasy’ as a means to liberate people from so-called capitalist alienation.

Kristoff will be presenting his work to the CSMCH seminar on 11 February and he is organising a conference entitled ‘Ecstatic Communitarization/Sociation: Ecstatic States of the Body and Social Group Cohesion from the 19th Century to the present’, which will take place on 26 March. The call for papers for the conference can be found here.

I hope you will join me in welcoming Kristoff to the CSMCH and to the university!

— Emile