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Dr. Tobias Becker


Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter

Neuere Geschichte / Zeitgeschichte

Koserstr. 20
Raum A 220
14195 Berlin
Seit 2020

Freie Universität Berlin
Fellow der Max-Weber-Stiftung 


Deutsches Historisches Institut London
Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter


Freie Universität Berlin
Dr. phil. 

2011-2014 Freie Universität Berlin | Goldsmiths, University of London
Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter im DFG/AHRC Forschungsprojekt „Populäres Musiktheater in London und Berlin, 1890-1939“
2010-2011 Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter am Großbritannien-Zentrum
2007-2009 Freie Universität Berlin 
Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter in dem BMBF-Forschungsprojekt „Theater und Fest in Europa“
2006 Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München 
Magister Artium

Stipendien und Auszeichnung

2020 King’s College London


2018 Chicago University Press


2018 Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study


2018 Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research


2018 Media Journal


2018 History Compass


2017 Bloomsbury Academic


2015 Science Museum


2014 Friedrich-Meinecke-Preis

Dissertationspreis der Friedrich-Meinecke-Gesellschaft

2012 Society for Theatre Research
2008/09 Deutsches Historisches Institut London
2002-2006 Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung


2019- Fellow der Royal Historical Society
2019- International Federation for Public History
2019- Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Angewandte Geschichte
2016- IMNN | international media and nostalgia network
2014- German History Society
2010- Arbeitskreis Geschichte+Theorie (Sprecher 2014-2016)
2008- Arbeitskreis Großbritannien-Forschung
2006- Verband der Historiker und Historikerinnen Deutschlands


-          Europäische und transatlantische Geschichte des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts

-          Kulturgeschichte, speziell Geschichte der Populärkultur

-          Stadtgeschichte

-          Ideengeschichte

-          Mediengeschichte

-          Public History

Laufende Projekte

Yesterday: A New History of Nostalgia (Habilitationsprojekt)

Nostalgia is everywhere—or so we are often told. Used to explain pop cultural revivals and retro trends as well as current political events—Brexit and Trump most notably—nostalgia is the subject of a growing body of research across many disciplines. Indeed, the term nostalgia has become so widespread and broad that it is time to step back and think about what nostalgia actually is—and what it isn’t.

My project takes up this challenge. It traces how the meanings of ‘nostalgia’ changed, how it was used and what it was used for. In so doing, it shows that nostalgia often is not so much a neutral description as a loaded accusation. Though famously ‘bittersweet’, nostalgia more often figures as sweet escape than a painful longing for what cannot be recovered. Indeed, since the second half of the twentieth century it has usually been employed to describe—or rather deride—the use of the past in politics and pop culture as well as the democratisation of history by amateur historians engaged in conservation efforts, local museums, historical re-enactments or family history.

The project shows the limits of these abstract accounts of nostalgia by exploring concrete cases of these alleged manifestations of recurring “nostalgia waves”. It examines in detail how and why people engaged with the past over the second half of the twentieth century and how forgotten debates of the 1970s and 1980s still inform our thinking about the relationship between the present, the past and the future. In taking a more sympathetic, or perhaps emotionally realistic, approach to nostalgia than most critics, the book challenges widespread assumptions underlying current debates about culture and politics. More generally, it shows just how rich and diverse the ways in which people make sense of the past are.

The project is accompanied by the blog: Homesick for Yesterday: A History of the Nostalgia

Popular Culture in Europe since 1800 (Buchprojekt zusammen mit Len Platt)

Popular Culture in Europe since 1800 is an introductory textbook catering to readers of various fields in the humanities who seek to gain a historical overview of popular culture in modern Europe. The textbook is particularly useful for students and instructors of anthropology, history, and literary/media/theater studies.

Our book distinguishes itself from other available titles since it provides its readers with an understanding of popular culture in modern Europe that synthesizes historical analyses with critical discussions of the aesthetic and cultural significance of the genres and forms of entertainment and leisure activities under consideration. It will not only highlight the structural processes that informed the development of popular culture, for instance, urbanization and industrialization, but also the extent to which the content, forms, functions, and audiences of popular culture have changed over time. Moreover, we will discuss the interaction between material and social aspects of popular culture (e.g., the state, space, money, class, race, and gender) and the representation of these topics in print, on stage, in film, and elsewhere. Lastly, the book familiarizes its readers with key concepts that are relevant for a broader understanding of popular culture, be it questions of representation, public and private consumption, the trend from the spoken word to the visual, or the role of the physical and sensual experiences of entertainment.

The book also addresses the extent to which we can identify a European popular culture and the degree to which we need to consider the role of distinct national developments, specific cultural and social traditions, as well as parameters shaped by religion, ethnicity, class, and gender.

Abgeschlossene Drittmittelprojekte an der FU Berlin

- West End und Friedrichstraße. Eine vergleichende Studie des populären Theaters in London und Berlin, 1880-1930 (DFG/AHRC-Projekt)

- Metropole und Vergnügungskultur. Berlin im transnationalen Vergleich, 1880-1930 (DFG-Projektgruppe)


- German Historical Institute 40th Anniversary Exhibition, Deutsches Historisches London, November 2016.

- Things We Keep: Curators of Our Own History, in Kooperation mit Kerstin Schreiter, King’s College London, Deutsches Historisches Institut London, 10. September bis 13. November 2015.

Konferenzorganisation (Auswahl)

- „Cultures of Conservatism in the United States and Western Europe between the 1970s and 1990s“, in Zusammenarbeit mit Martina Steber (IfZ München-Berlin) und Anna von der Goltz (Georgetown University), gefördert durch die Fritz Thyssen Stiftung, Deutsches Historisches Institut London, 14.-16. September 2017.

- „Competitors & Companions: Britons and Germans in the World“, Großbritannien-Zentrum, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 19.-20. Mai 2017.

- „The De-industrialising City: Urban, Architectural and Socio-cultural Perspectives“,Workshop in cooperation with Jörg Arnold (Nottingham), Simon Gunn (Leicester/Urban History), Otto Saumarez Smith (Oxford) and the Society for the Promotion of Urban Discussion, Deutsches Historisches Institut London, 12.-13. Dezember 2016.

- „Pop Nostalgia: The Uses of the Past in Popular Culture“, Deutsches Historisches Institut London, 10.-11. November 2016.

- Sektion „Uses of the Past. Nostalgia and Heritage in the FRG and the GDR since the 1970s“, German History society Annual Conference, University of Newcastle, 8.-10. September 2016.

- „Emotional Journeys. Itinerant Theatres, Audiences, and Adaptation in the Long 19th Century“, in cooperation with Kedar Kulkarni (Max Planck Institute for Human Development), Deutsches Historisches Institut London, 19.-20. November 2015.

- „Nostalgia: Historicising the Longing for the Past“, Deutsches Historisches Institut London, 1.-3. Oktober 2015.

- „West End and Friedrichstraße. Cross-Cultural Exchange in Popular Musical Theatre, 1890-1939“, Freie Universität Berlin, 29.-30.3.2012.


[2021]          (mit Len Platt), Popular Culture in Europe since the Eighteenth Century (London:
                    Routledge, in Vorbereitung).

2016            (mit Kerstin Lange, Daniel Morat, Johanna Niedbalski, Anne Gnausch und Paul
                    Nolte), Weltstadtvergnügen: Berlin 1880-1930 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck &
                    Ruprecht, 2016).

2014            Inszenierte Moderne. Populäres Theater in Berlin und London, 1880-1930
                    (=Publications of the German Historical Institute London, 74) (München: De
                    Gruyter Oldenbourg, 2014).

Herausgegebene Bücher 

[2021]          (hg. mit Dion Georgiou), Pop Nostalgia? The Uses of the Past in Contemporary
                    Popular Culture
 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, in Vorbereitung).

2014            (hg. mit Len Platt and David Linton), Popular Musical Theatre in London and
                    Berlin, 1890-1939 
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014).

2011            (hg. mit Anna Littmann and Johanna Niedbalski), Die Stadt der tausend Freuden:
                    Metropolenkultur um 1900
(Bielefeld: transcript, 2011).

Herausgegebene Themenhefte von Zeitschriften 

[2021]          (hg. mit Sabine Stach), Nostalgie (Themenheft), Zeithistorische Forschungen (in

[2021]          (hg. mit Felix Fuhg), Europeanising British Cultural History (Themenheft),
                    Contemporary British History (in Vorbereitung).

2020            (hg. mit Jörg Arnold und Otto Saumarez Smith), The De-industrializing City in the
                    UK and Germany (Themenheft), Urban History 47 (2020), No. 2.

2018            Forum on Nostalgia, in: History and Theory 57 (2018), No. 2.

2017            (hg. mit Kedar Kulkarni), Beyond the Playhouse: Travelling Theatre in the Long
                    19th Century (Special Issue), Nineteenth Century Theatre and Film 44 (2017),
                    No. 1.

Aufsätze in referierten Zeitschriften 

[2021]          Die Hitler-Welle der 1970er Jahre: NS-Vergangenheit und Nostalgie-Debatte, in:
                    Zeithistorische Forschungen (in Vorbereitung).

2018            The Meanings of Nostalgia: Genealogy and Critique, in: History and Theory 57
                    (2018), No. 2, S. 234-250.

2017            Globalizing Operetta before the First World War, in: Opera Quarterly 33 (2017),
                    S. 7-27.

2014            Entertaining the Empire: Touring Companies and Amateur Dramatics in Colonial
                    India, in: The Historical Journal 57 (2014),No. 3, 1-27.

Aufsätze in Büchern 

[2021]          Nostalgia and History: Historicising a Multi-Faceted Emotion, in: Michael Hviid
                    Jacobsen (Hg.), The Faces of History (Bristol: Bristol University Press, in

[2021]          Politics: Regressive Nostalgia? in: Tobias Becker, Dion Georgiou (Hg.), Pop
The Uses of the Past in Contemporary Popular Culture (New York:
                    Palgrave Macmillan, in Vorbereitung).

[2021]          Brexit, Trump and the Past: Politics of Nostalgia?, in: Martina Steber (Hg.),
                    Brexit: Past and Future of Britain in Europe (Oxford: Oxford University Press, in

2017            Rückkehr der Geschichte? Die Nostalgie-Welle in den 1970er und 80er Jahren,
                    in: Fernando Esposito (Hg.), Zeitenwandel: Transformationen geschichtlicher
                    Zeitlichkeit nach dem Boom 
(Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2017),
                    S. 93-117.

Geschichte und Gesellschaft
Arbeitsbereich Zeitgeschichte
Moral Economies of Modern Societies