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Prof. Dr. Sönke Kunkel

Sönke Kunkel

Freie Universität

John F. Kennedy Institute

Assistant Professor

Lansstraße 7-9
Room 207
14195 Berlin

Office hours

Summer Semester 2024

Mondays, 5-6pm, room 207 and by appointment or via Webex: https://fu-berlin.webex.com/meet/soenke.kunkel

Please note: Credit transfer forms have first to be signed by the respective department (for affine modules contact David Bosold first). I also need a transcript from you. You can send in the document via e-mail and will get it back via e-mail from me. You will then have to send it to the Prüfungsbüro yourself.

If you'd like to register your BA/MA thesis: If you'd like to register your BA/MA thesis: You can simply e-mail me the document to get the signature by a member of the Prüfungsausschuss. You will get it back signed from me, and then you have to send it to the Prüfungsbüro yourself.

Welcome to my profile! I am a Juniorprofessor of History at the JFKI where I specialize in transatlantic, international, and global history.


Juniorprofessor of North American History at FU Berlin

BA Coordinator of John F. Kennedy Institute

Member of the „Beirat Qualitätssicherung Studium und Lehre“ of FU Berlin

Member of Board of AG Internationale Geschichte, Verband der Historikerinnen und Historiker in Deutschland

Vice-Chairman and Member of Examinations Board of JFKI

Member of Budget Commission, JFKI


Professional Positions

Since 2017

Juniorprofessor of North American History, JFKI

2013 – 2017

Vorstandsreferent at Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

2011 – 2013

Postdoctoral Researcher at Jacobs University Bremen




PhD (Dissertation) in Intercultural Humanities/History, Jacobs University Bremen


Recognized Student, University of Oxford

2006 – 2007

Visiting Fellow, Harvard University


Master of Arts, Ohio State University


Intermediate Exam (BA), University of Cologne


Awards and Fellowships                                                                                


Workshop Grant, Villa Vigoni, Center for European Excellence, Italy


Conference Grant, DFG


Conference Grant, Center for International Cooperation, FU Berlin


Postdoctoral Research Grant, German Historical Institute Washington D.C.


Global Scholars and Diversity Grant, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations/USA


Publication Grant, Ritter-Stiftung, Bremen


Conference Grant, German Historical Institute Washington D.C.


Dean’s Grant, Jacobs University Bremen

2010 – 2012

Research Grant and Member of the Oslo Contemporary International History Network

2009 – 2011

Doctoral scholarship, Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes

2009 – 2010

Research and Travel Grant, German Historical Institute Washington D.C.

2007 –2008

Pre-Doctoral Fellowship, Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes

2005 – 2006

Fulbright Scholarship

2004 – 2008

Scholarship, Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes

Winter Semester 2023/24


Natural Resources in U.S. and Canadian History, Sönke Kunkel, Mondays, 18:00-20:00


Natural Resources in Canadian and International History, Sönke Kunkel, Mondays, 12:00-14:00


North America in 14 Songs, Karin Höpker, Sönke Kunkel, Sebastian Kohl, Mondays, 14:00-16:00

Summer Semester 2023


Introduction to History: Theories, Methods, and Approaches, Maximilian Klose & Sönke Kunkel, Thursdays, 14:00-16:00


Theories and Concepts in International History, Maximilian Klose & Sönke Kunkel, Thursdays, 12:00-14:00

Winter Semester 2022/23


Understanding North America A, Ulla Haselstein, Sönke Kunkel, Martin Lüthe, Fridays, 10:00-12:00 and 14:00-16:00

Migration in North American History, 1865-1990s, Sönke Kunkel, Mondays, 14:00-16:00


MA Colloquium History, Sönke Kunkel, Mondays, 18:00-20:00

Summer Semester 2022


Refugees in Europe and North America in the 20th Century, Sönke Kunkel, Mondays, 12:00-14:00


Making Global Neighborhoods: Refugees and Ethnicity in U.S. Urban History, Sönke Kunkel, Mondays, 14:00-16:00

MA Colloquium History, Sönke Kunkel, Mondays, 18:00-20:00

Winter Semester 2021/22


Introduction to Public History: Black History in Transatlantic Popular Culture, Sönke Kunkel, Mondays, 12:00-14:00


MA-Colloquium History, Sönke Kunkel, Mondays, 18:00-20:00

Science and Technology in Transatlantic Relations, Sönke Kunkel and David Bosold, Mondays, 14:00-16:00

Summer Semester 2021


Readings in Atlantic History: Slavery and Race in North America and the Atlantic World, 1619-1865, Sönke Kunkel, Mondays, 12:00-14:00


MA-Colloquium History, Sönke Kunkel, Mondays, 18:00-20:00

Making Public History: Slaves, Migrants, and Mass Migration in the Atlantic World, Sönke Kunkel and Birte Wege, Mondays, 14:00-16:00

Winter Semester 2019/20


Contemporary Environmental History: Europe and the United States since 1945, Sönke Kunkel, Tuesdays, 10:00-12:00


Human Rights and Humanitarianism in International Relations since the 19th Century, Sönke Kunkel, Tuesdays, 08:00-10:00

Global Inequalities: Historical and Economic Perspectives, Sönke Kunkel and Wolfgang Strehl, Mondays, 10:00-12:00

Summer Semester 2019

Histories of Global Aid in Premodern and Modern Times, 1600s-2000s, Tuesdays, 8:00-10:00  

Holy Humanitarians? European and American Missionaries in the Age of Colonialism, 18th to 19th Century, Tuesdays, 10:00-12:00

Winter Semester 2018/19


Understanding North America A, Fridays, 10:00-12:00 and 14:00-16:00

Circulating Knowledge: Science and Environmental Change in Europe and North America since the 19th Century, Tuesdays, 8:00-10:00

Summer Semester 2018

Introduction to U.S. and Global Environmental History, Tuesdays, 8:00-10:00

American Science Diplomacy and Science Communication since the 19th Century, Tuesdays, 10:00-12:00

Winter Semester 2017/18

Understanding North America A

Global America and its Transnational Connections, 1870s to 1920s

Summer Semester 2017

The Life and Death of American Cities, Tuesdays, 08:00-10:00

Masters of Spin: Corporate Communications, PR, and Marketing in American History, Tuesdays, 14:00-16:00

My research focuses on 19th and 20th Century international and global history, transatlantic relations, and the history of international organizations and transnational movements. I also continue to work on visual history, the history of global media, and the history of public diplomacy, the focus of my first book on Empire of Pictures.

There are three broad themes that structure my research interests:

  • The history of Global Humanitarianism, U.S.-European Solidarity Networks, North-South Relations, and Development in the 19th and 20th Century
  • Science Diplomacy and Environmental Knowledge in the Cold War
  • Global Media, Public Diplomacy and U.S. Foreign Policy in the 20th Century


Over the last years, I have given a number of talks on those themes and organized, among others, the following workshops.

Humanitarian Missions: An Italian-German Conversation on Europe, the United States, and the ‚Global South‘ from the Nineteenth to the Twenty-First Century, German-Italian Workshop, Villa Vigoni, Center for European Excellence, with Silvia Salvatici und Ilaria Scaglia, November 2019

Visions of Humanity, Culture & International History VI, Freie Universität Berlin, with Jessica Gienow-Hecht und Sebastian Jobs, May 2019

Histories of Humanitarianism and (Visual) Media, International Panel, Annual Meeting, Canadian Historical Association, University of Regina/Kanada, with Dominique Marshall (Carleton University) and the Canadian Network on Humanitarian History, May 2018

Transforming Cities: Urbanization and International Development Policies in the Global South in the Twentieth Century, International Conference, Europäische Akademie Berlin, with Marc Frey, October 2018

Global Inequalities: Historical, Economic, and Interdisciplinary Perspectives, Berlin, with Wolfgang Strehl (Economics Department/JFKI/FU Berlin), January 2020

Governing Environmental Change: Science Diplomacy and the Global Politics of Knowledge since the 19th Century, International Workshop, FU Berlin, with Nadin Heé (FU Berlin), Mariko Jacoby (Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte Berlin), Simone Turchetti (University of Manchester), November 2018



Edited Volumes and Special Issues

  • Visions of Humanity: Historical Cultural Practices since 1850, New York: Berghahn Books, 2023 (with Jessica Gienow-Hecht and Sebastian Jobs)
  • Humanitarian Action in the Age of Visual Media: The Past and Present of Humanitarian Communication, in: Journal of Humanitarian Affairs, Vol. 3, No. 2 (2021), 1-64  (with Valérie Gorin)
  • Science Diplomacy, Knowledge, and Transnationalism in International Relations, 1890s - 1980s, in: Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 56, No. 3 (July 2021), 473-562
  • Urbanization and International Development in Latin America and Africa since 1945 (with Nancy Kwak and Marc Frey), in: Comparativ. Zeitschrift für Globalgeschichte und vergleichende Gesellschaftsforschung, 30 (2020), No. 1/2, 9-156
  • International Organizations and Development, 1945 – 1990 (with Marc Frey and Corinna Unger), edited volume, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan (Palgrave Macmillan Transnational History Series), 2014
  • Aufbruch ins postkoloniale Zeitalter: Globalisierung und die außereuropäische Welt in den 1920er und 1930er-Jahren (with Christoph Meyer), Sammelband, Frankfurt a. M.: Campus (Reihe Globalgeschichte, Bd. 12), 2012


Journal Articles

  • Introduction, in: Journal of Humanitarian Affairs (with Valérie Gorin), Vol. 3, No. 2 (2021), 1-4
  • Public History Meets Humanitarianism: The Visual Politics and Narratives of Red Cross Museums in Europe and the United States, in: Journal of Humanitarian Affairs, Vol. 3, No. 2 (2021), 34-40
  • Red Cross Museums as Media of Historical Communication: A Conversation with Rainer Schlösser, in: Journal of Humanitarian Affairs, Vol. 3, No. 2 (2021), 41-44
  • Science Diplomacy in the Twentieth Century: Introduction, in: Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 56, No. 3 (July 2021), 473-484
  • Introduction: Transforming Cities: Urbanization and International Development in Africa and Latin America since 1945, in: Comparativ. Zeitschrift für Globalgeschichte und vergleichende Gesellschaftsforschung, 30 (2020), Heft 1/2, 9-18 (with Nancy Kwak und Marc Frey).
  • Emerging Field Essay: Globales Wissen und Science Diplomacy im 20. Jahrhundert. Eine Bestandsaufnahme, in: Neue Politische Literatur, Vol. 65, No. 1 (2020), 19-43
  • History of Global Media, in: Patricia Moy (ed.), Oxford Bibliographies in Communication, New York: Oxford University Press, 02/2020 [https://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199756841/obo-9780199756841-0243.xml]
  • “Zwischen Globalisierung, Internationalen Organisationen und ‘Global Governance:‘ Eine kurze Geschichte des Nord-Süd-Konflikts in den 1960er und 1970er Jahren,“ Vierteljahreshefte für Zeitgeschichte, Bd. 60, Nr. 3 (Oktober 2012), 555-577
  • “Writing the History of Development: A Review of the Recent Literature,“ Contemporary European History, Bd. 20, Nr. 2 (2011), 215-232 (with Marc Frey)
  • “Systeme des Wissens, Visionen von Fortschritt: Die Vereinigten Staaten, die Dekolonisierung und das Jahrzehnt der Modernisierungstheorie, 1954-1965,“ in: Archiv für Sozialgeschichte, Bd. 48 (2008), 155-182
  • “Verhandelte Symbolik: Die Vereinten Nationen und die Four Freedoms Flag,“ in: Vereinte Nationen, Bd. 56, Nr. 6/2008, 263-268 (with Jost Dülffer)


Essays in Edited Volumes

  • Introduction: Visions of Humanity: Actors, Culture, Practices, in: Sönke Kunkel/Jessica Gienow-Hecht/Sebastian Jobs (esa.), Visions of Humanity: Historical Cultural Practices since 1850, New York: Berghahn Books 2023, 1-28 (with Jessica Gienow-Hecht and Sebastian Jobs).  
  • Nixon in China: Politische Erzählungen, Außenbeziehungen und Erinnerung im Medienzeitalter, in: Friedrich Kießling/Caroline Rothauge (eds.), Außenbeziehungen und Erinnerung. Funktionen, Dynamiken, Reflexionen, München: DeGruyter 2021, 57-74
  • Medienverflechtungen in der amerikanischen Welt: US-amerikanische Bildpolitik und Erfahrungen der Mondlandung in Argentinien, in: Sven Grampp (ed.), Cold Moon Rising: Die Berichterstattung über die erste bemannte Mondlandung als Globalgeschichte in Zeiten des Kalten Krieges, München: Degruyter 2021, 257-265
  • Global Media, Emotions, and the ‘Kennedy Narrative:’ Kennedy as Seen from the ‘Global South,’ in: Cyrus Schayegh (ed.), Globalizing the U.S. Presidency: Postcolonial Views of John F. Kennedy, London: Bloomsbury 2020, 100-114
  • No Easy Solutions: Global Cities, Natural Disasters, Development, and the Intellectual History of Resilience Thinking, 1960s to 1990s, in: Dorothee Brantz/Avi Sharma (eds.), Urban Resilience in a Global Context: Actors, Narratives, and Temporalities Bielefeld: Transcript 2020, 129-146
  • Globales Umweltwissen, Naturgefahren, und Wissenschaftsdiplomatie. Katastrophenhilfe in den Nord-Süd-Beziehungen, in: Jürgen Dinkel/Steffen Fiebrig/Frank Reichherzer (eds.), Nord/Süd: Perspektiven auf eine globale Konstellation, München: Degruyter 2020, 357-378
  • “Introduction: International Organizations, Global Development, and the Making of the Contemporary World,” in: Frey/Kunkel/Unger, International Organizations and Development, Basingstoke: Palgrave 2014, 1-22 (with Marc Frey and Corinna Unger)
  • “Contesting Globalization: The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and the Transnationalization of Sovereignty,” in: Frey/Kunkel/Unger, International Organizations and Development, Basingstoke: Palgrave 2014, 240-258,
  • “Dimensionen des Aufbruchs: Die 1920er und 1930er-Jahre in globaler Perspektive“, in: Kunkel/Meyer (eds.), Aufbruch ins postkoloniale Zeitalter, Frankfurt: Campus 2012, 7-33 (with Christoph Meyer)
  • “Fortschritt nach Plan? Der globale Entwicklungsdiskurs des Völkerbundes und die Anfänge des systemischen Denkens,“ in: Kunkel/Meyer (eds.), Aufbruch ins postkoloniale Zeitalter, Frankfurt: Campus 2012, 123-141 (with Christoph Meyer)
  • “Amerikanischer Wissenstransfer im Nigeria der frühen 1960er Jahre,” in: Bernd Greiner/Tim B. Müller/Claudia Weber (eds.), Macht und Geist im Kalten Krieg, Hamburg: Hamburger Edition 2011, 341-358
  • “Ernst Cassirer – Vordenker der Bildwissenschaft? Plädoyer für eine Rehabilitierung,“ in: Urs Büttner et. al. (eds.), Potentiale der symbolischen Formen. Eine interdisziplinäre Einführung in Ernst Cassirers Denken, Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann 2011, 93-100
  • “Weimar’s Politainment. Zukunftsentwürfe und Modellierungen des Politischen in der deutschen Unterhaltungsgesellschaft (1924-1931),“ in: Urs Buettner/Christoph Bareither (eds.), Fritz Langs ‘M’ – Eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder. Texte und Kontexte, Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann 2010, 149-158



  • Sarah Lorenzini, Global Development. A Cold War History, in: H-Soz-u-Kult (Juli 2020)
  • Visions of Humanity. Conference Report, in: H-Soz-u-Kult (Juli 2019)  
  • Matthias Kuhnert, Humanitäre Kommunikation. Entwicklung und Emotionen bei britischen NGOs, 1945-1990, Berlin 2017, in: Neue Politische Literatur 64 (2), 2019, 426-428.
  • Niall Ferguson et. al., The Shock of the Global. The 1970s in Perspective, Cambridge 2010, in: H-Soz-u-Kult (September 2010)  
  • Susanne Stemmler u.a. (Hrsg.), 1989 – Globale Geschichten, Göttingen 2009, in: H-Soz-u-Kult (Frühjahr 2010)
  • Trajectories of Decolonization: Elites and the Transformation from the Colonial to The Postcolonial, Konferenzbericht, in: Bulletin of the German Historical Institute, Bd. 44 (Frühjahr 2009), 95-99  
  • Gerard Degroot, Dark Side of the Moon: The Magnificent Madness of the American Lunar Quest, in: H-Soz-u-Kult (Februar 2009)    
  • Douglas Brinkley, The Reagan Diaries, in: H-Soz-u-Kult (April 2008)
  • Paul Kennedy, The Parliament of Man: The Past, Present, and Future of the United Nations, in: H-Soz-u-Kult (Januar 2008)
  • Bernd Greiner, Krieg ohne Fronten: Die USA in Vietnam, in: Sehepunkte (Januar 2008)
  • Jeffrey Taffet, Foreign Aid as Foreign Policy: The Alliance for Progress in Latin America, in: Sehepunkte (Dezember 2007)
  • Andreas Daum, Lloyd Gardner et. al. (Hrsg.), America, the Vietnam War and the World: Comparative and International Perspectives, in: Archiv für Sozialgeschichte (November 2007)