Dr Fabian Hilfrich
Senior Lecturer; American History
Head of History
Affiliated research centres
After doing my undergraduate studies in modern history, medieval history, and political science at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, I got my M.A. in American history from Washington University in St. Louis. In July 2000, I received my Ph.D. in history from the Freie Universität in Berlin. I have taught U.S. history at the Freie Universität Berlin, German and European history in Riga, Latvia and I have joined the Institute for Contemporary History (foreign office branch in Berlin) as a research fellow in the fall of 2001. In September 2006, I took up my first position at the University of Edinburgh as lecturer in American history. I am now a Senior Lecturer in the School.
Summary of research interestsPlaces:
- Britain & Ireland
- Latin America
- North America
- Comparative & Global History
- Diplomatic History
- Nineteenth Century
- Twentieth Century & After
My research focuses on the history of U.S. foreign relations in the 19th and 20th centuries. I am particularly interested in how culture and ideology impact on and manifest themselves in foreign policy and international relations. In this vein, I have already worked on the interaction of culturally constructed concepts such as gender, memory, nationalism, and emotions with foreign policy formation and rhetoric.
I am also increasingly interested the interdependence of bilateral and multilateral relations in the international arena – between governments as much as between informal international networks and non-governmental organizations. In relation to the 1970s, this focus is ultimately designed to explore the cohesion and strains in the transatlantic alliance.
Watch a short video of Dr Hilfrich speaking about his research interests - Media Hopper
Current research activities
I have just finished a manuscript on the American imperialism debate in the wake of the Spanish-American War of 1898, which revolved around the question of whether the United States should annex the Philippines, a former Spanish colony.
In a similar vein, my current research project looks at the inner-American debate on the Vietnam War, probably the most intense debate on war and peace that the United States ever experienced. Like the imperialism debate, this discussion raised important questions about the appropriate place and role for the United States in the world as well as about American ideals and nationalism more broadly speaking.
Finally, I am working on a third topic which combines my expertise in U.S. foreign relations with my interest in more international and multilateral research. The focus of this project is transatlantic relations in the times of détente, exploring the dialectic relationship between transatlantic and inner-European relations. I want to find out whether the United States furthered or obstructed the process of European integration, whether West Europeans attempted to unify their continent as an alternative to the bond with the United States, and whether, ultimately, transatlantic relations were founded on emotional and cultural ties (the idea of “the West”) or, more mundanely, on the fear of a common enemy. In addition to a truly international approach (i.e. relying on archival material of the four major players, France, Great Britain, Germany, and the United States), this project also has a transnational focus, extending beyond the positions and views of policy- and decision-makers.
- Another Premature Obituary for American Exceptionalism: Empire, Nation, and Democracy in the Imperialism Debate
- The Vietnam War Debate - for an recent example of this research, see my contribution to the conference ‘The American Experience in Southeast Asia, 1946-1975’ at the U.S. State Department, September 2010 at http://history.state.gov/conferences/2010-southeast-asia/ours-to-reason-why.
- Transatlantic Relations in the 1970s
- American History 2
- United States Foreign Policy 1880-1917
- The United States and Transatlantic Relations during the Cold War
- The United States and Vietnam: History and Consequences
- The United States and the Vietnam War: Origins and Repercussions
- The United States and the Cold War
|Name||Degree||Thesis topic||Supervision type||Link|
|Aubin, Claire||PhD||'From Treblinka to Trenton: Tracking the post-War lives and trials of Holocaust perpetrators in the United States'||Secondary|
|Black, Graham||PhD||A comparative analysis of French, British and American War correspondents during the Vietnam War||Primary|
|McLay, Mark||PhD||The Black Sheep: Republicans and the War on Poverty, 1964–1968||Secondary|
|Thomson, Sarah||PhD||‘A Transformational Conservative? Constructing Ronald Reagan’s Political Legacy, 1984-93’||Joint||link|
|Name||Degree||Thesis topic||Supervision type||Completion year||Link|
|Cooper, Timothy||PhD||The idea of the "Yellow Peril" in the United States and the United Kingdom, c. 1890-1930||Primary||2018|
|Standring, Hannah||MScR||‘The Conservative party and British foreign policy in the 1920s’||Secondary||2014|
|Maxwell, Robbie||PhD||Educator to the Nation: George S. Benson and Modern American Conservatism||Secondary||2014|
|Maxwell, Robbie||MScR||George Benson and the Long Term Origins of Modern American Conservatism||Secondary||2010|
Books - Authored
Hilfrich, F. (2012) Debating American Exceptionalism: Empire and Democracy in the Wake of the Spanish-American War. Palgrave Macmillan
Books - Edited
Hilfrich, F., Möller, H., Hildebrand, K. and Schöllgen, G. (eds.) (2008) Akten zur Auswärtigen Politik der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 1977. Oldenbourg Verlag
Hilfrich, F. (2015) Die Glaubwürdigkeitsfalle. Süddeutsche zeitung
Hilfrich, F. (2021) Vietnam: History as tragedy. In: Reeder, T. (ed.) The Routledge History of U.S. Foreign Relations. New York and London: Routledge, pp. 325-340DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003034889-29
Hilfrich, F. (2016) Anti-Imperialism and Anti-Colonialism. In: Mackenzie , J. (ed.) The Encyclopedia of Empire. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons Inc.
Hilfrich, F. (2010) The Corruption of Civic Virtue by Emotions:: Anti-Imperialist Fears in the Debate on the Philippine-American War (1899-1902). In: Jessica C E Gienow-Hecht, F. (ed.) Emotions and American History: An International Assessment. New York: Berghahn
Hilfrich, F. (2010) West Germany's Long Year of Europe: Bonn between Europe and the United States. In: Schulz, M. and Schwarz, T. (eds.) The Strained Alliance: Conflict and Cooperation in US-European Relations from Nixon to Carter. Cambridge University Press, pp. 237-256
Hilfrich, F. (2004) Manliness and Realism: The Use of Gendered Tropes in the Debates on the Philippine-American and Vietnam Wars. In: J C E Gienow-Hecht, F. (ed.) Culture and International History. Berghahn Books, pp. 60 - 78
Hilfrich, F. (2003) Race and Imperialism: Commentary on an Article in the Chicago Broad Ax. In: Jessica C E Gienow-Hecht, F. (ed.) Culture and International History. New York: Berghahn, pp. 250-257
Hilfrich, F. (2003) Visions of the Asian Periphery: Vietnam and the Philippines. In: Daum, A., Gardner, L. and Mausbach, W. (eds.) America, the Vietnam War and the World: Comparative and International Perspectives. Cambridge University Press, pp. 43-63
Hilfrich, F. (2001) Creating and instrumentalizing Nationalism: The Celebration of National Reunion in the Peace Jubilees of 1898. In: Fabre, G., Heideking, J. and Dreisbach, K. (eds.) Celebrating Ethnicity and Nation: American Festive Culture from the Revolution to the Early 20th Century. Berghahn Books, pp. 228 - 256