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Michael Kempe

PD Dr. Michael Kempe is the Director of the Leibniz Research Center and the Leibniz-Archiv in Hannover and teaches early modern history at the University of Konstanz. He mad his PhD in 2000 with a book on early enlightened theories of the biblical deluge and in 2009 his Habilitation with a book about the history of piracy and international law (1500-1900). He has teaching experiences, including interim chairs, at the Universities of Konstanz, St. Gallen, Frankfurt/Main,  Heidelberg, Lecce (Italy), Trier and Berne. Between 2002 and 2006 he was a scientific fellow at the Max-Planck-Institute for European legal history in Frankfurt/Main; and between 2006 and 2009 he worked as an assistant at the University of St. Gallen where he also co-founded and coordinated the new interdisciplinary doctorial program “Organization and Culture”. Until October 2011 he was a scientific coordinator in the Center for Excellence “Cultural Foundations of Integration” at the University of Konstanz and, together with Jürgen Osterhammel, co-leader of the interdisciplinary PhD-program “Cultures of Time”. His activities in scientific researches and academic teachings cover a wide range of topics of early modern international and global history from European expansion and global history, history of European enlightenment and intellectual history to environmental history, history of science and historiography of history. Concerning the topic of the Berne Winter School 2013 “Timing TransFormations” he can offer in particular an expertise in the history of apocalyptic and catastrophist thinking, in early modern  concepts of time, chance and contingency as well as in theories of the fall and decline of empires (e.g. theories of the “the falls of Rome”).

Main publications are:

“‘Even in the remotest corners of the world’: globalized piracy and international law, 1500-1900″, in: Journal of Global History 5, 2010, S. 353-372; online:; Fluch der Weltmeere. Piraterie,  Völkerrecht und internationale Beziehungen, 1500-1900, Frankfurt / New York: Campus Verlag 2010; “Untergänge Roms. Zufall, Kausalität und Emergenz als Problem der Geschichte”, in: Rechtsgeschichte. Zeitschrift des Max-Planck-Instituts für europäische Rechtsgeschichte 5, 2004, S. 58-75; Wissenschaft, Theologie, Aufklärung. Johann Jakob Scheuchzer (1672-1733) und die Sintfluttheorie, Epfendorf (bei Tübingen) 2003; (zusammen mit Dieter Groh und Franz Mauelshagen als Herausgeber) Naturkatastrophen. Beiträge zu ihrer Deutung, Wahrnehmung  und Darstellung in Text und Bild von der Antike bis ins 20. Jahrhundert (Literatur und Anthropologie Bd. 13), Tübingen 2003; (zusammen mit Christian Rohr als Herausgeber) Coping with the Unexpected – Natural Disasters and their Perception (Environment & History, Volume 9, No. 2, Special Issue), Isle of Harris 2003.


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