Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Makrosoziologie

Home Museums

Domesticating Cosmopolitanism: a comparative study of historical home museums in Germany and Israel

Projektförderung durch die German-Israeli Foundation (GIF)
Förderzeitraum: 01/2014-12/2016

Leitung: Irit Dekel, PhD

Weitere Projektleitung:
Prof. Klaus Eder, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Prof. Vered Vinitzky-Seroussi, Hebrew University


This comparative research will study new forms of cosmopolitan and democratic memory presented and experienced in historical home museums in Israel and Germany. These are sites where stories about home life and personal lives intersect with stories about politics, class, and migration, as well as events of national, municipal and local significance. The connections between diverse stories are at the center of this study, creating a more diverse memory landscape in Israel and Germany. Studying these thus sites provide a timely junction of two notions that are sought after yet not tangible — home and memory — in German and Israeli societies, whose histories over the past sixty years enveloped major and mutual historical change in terms of migration, diversity and conflict, which challenged and changed the stories of homes.

The project looks at site, agency and narratives in home museums. Each of the Israeli and German research teams will study four museums. In Germany: Einstein’s house in Caputh, Brecht’s house in Berlin, Kollwitz’s in Moritzburg, and Goethe’s in Weimar. In Israel: Weizmann’s in Rehoboth, Ben Gurion’s in Sde Boker and Tel Aviv, and Agnon’s in Jerusalem. The research project offers a unique perspective on the history of German-Israeli relations through the presentation and experience of home, and has historical and political implications besides its novelty and contribution to the sociology of culture, museum and narrative analysis: the individuals whose homes in Germany are studied were important figures in the history of Germany and in forming its contemporary self understanding. They stand in close relations to the houses and often to the individuals in Israel, who were statesmen (Ben Gurion, Weizmann), scientists (Weizmann) and a novel prize laureate in literature (Agnon).

Using ethnographic methods, narrative analysis and interviews, and drawing on the literature of memory and museum studies, sociological studies of home, tourism and heritage, this research will break ground as a comparative analysis of both experience and its (re-)presentation through various agencies in sites that have not been systematically studied in social sciences. Our Israeli-German cooperation will highlight the connections among people in the present, stories about the past, and ways of telling and bringing them together.





Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät
Institut für Sozialwissenschaften
Unter den Linden 6
10099 Berlin



Institut für Sozialwissenschaften
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10117 Berlin