Universalism and Particularism in European Contemporary History

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No end to history | LMU Newsroom

Universalism and particularism: In a project funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), historians at LMU examine the conflict-ridden period after 1989 from a fresh angle


"When the Iron Curtain was torn down, expectations ran high that the revolutionary upheavals of 1989–91 would see “Western,” liberal, and democratic principles spread throughout Europe and beyond. By the dawn of the new millennium at the latest, it became clear that such a universal trend would not take root and flourish everywhere. Liberal ideas increasingly found themselves competing with other models. Indeed British historian Timothy Garton Ash sees in the sum of these (particularist) tendencies an “anti-liberal counterrevolution” that triggered new regional and global conflicts. On every side, we now see populist movements that revolve around national, ethnic, regional or even religious characteristics. This is precisely the entry point of the new research group “Universalism and particularism in contemporary European history.” Have we reached the moment at which two distinct epochs change hands? Or is this, as the Munich academics believe, a “continuation of the simultaneity, the synchronicity, the overlap between different universalisms and particularisms”?"

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