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Felizitas Schaub (Associate Fellow)


Lehrstuhl für Europäische Geschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Unter den Linden 6
10099 Berlin


Mobility, Migration and Urban Cultures in Berlin and Prague (1867-1914)

This research project seeks to investigate the influence of migration in the height of urbanization on urban societies and how they dealt with the extreme mobility of their population. The social, ethnic and confessional composition of societies in European cities was subjected to constant change in the last third of the 19th century. Social order needed to be negotiated permanently. How social cohesion and stability could be established and preserved under conditions of extensive demographic fluctuation is one of the most important questions this project is focussing on.

Urbanization in Berlin and Prague was relatively late to begin, but all the faster was the growth of the two towns and their populations. The contemporary notion of unsteadiness and fluctuation was strongly influenced by the high quantities of migrants coming from the surrounding regions. With their arrival in the city, for most of them, the process of migration hadn’t come to an end.  Frequent remigrations by single travellers as well as whole families between different cities or between cities and the countryside were common, especially among the members of the lower classes, and are phenomena not yet adequately considered in studies dealing with urban and migration history. High mobility within the towns, often due to housing shortage, seem to confirm the image of bustling cities around 1900 that never came to a rest.

Furthermore, Berlin and Prague were both significant places of transition for migrational processes to occur in several stages: Around 1900, migrants mainly from the eastern parts of Europe travelled through Berlin on their way to England or the United States. Migrants from the Czech Lands often settled in Prague, gaining money, before proceeding to Vienna – and possibly coming back to the Bohemian capital only a few months later. Due to their important role in transnational and transregional processes of migration, Berlin and Prague bore heavy traces of transit and therefore provide very interesting material for an investigation on the characteristics of urban communities under the influence of fluidity and inconsistency.

Dealing with concrete, exemplary localities in urban space, where migration and mobility were intensely negotiated, different contemporary perspectives on these phenomena and experiences shall be elaborated. Strategies, how the fluidity of the cities’ population was processed and channelled and what kind of urban cultures emerged alongside these negotiations will be shown. This interest is based on the assumption, that dealing with high mobility and migration had to be learned and that during this learning-process not only new social practices were established but also new visions and understandings of “society”. Various actors and groups located in their specific, sometimes temporary urban settings were involved in these processes. Some of them are of special value for this study: Representatives of the municipal government and their institutions, working man and women with their respective businesses and places of work, schools and their students as well as association locations and their members.



August 2013-
Associate Fellow IGK 2012-2015
„Die Welt in der Stadt: Metropolitanität und
Globalisierung vom 19. Jahrhundert bis zur Gegenwart“
Center for Metropolitan Studies,
Technische Universität Berlin

September 2013-December 2013
Academic Associate (wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin)
SFB 640 „Repräsentationen sozialer Ordnungen im Wandel“
European History of the 20th century
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

April 2010-August 2013
Academic Associate
European History of the 20th century
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

March 2007-December 2008
Student Assistant
Modern History
Universität Basel


December 2009:
M.A. in Modern History of Central Europe
M.A. Thesis: “Industrialisierung als Erfahrung? Erinnerungen aus der
Prager Arbeiterschaft (1873-1914)“
Universität Basel

October 2002-December 2009:
Modern History (with focus on Modern History of Central Europe),
Modern Literature and Media Studies
Universität Basel

September 2004-August 2005:
Charles University in Prague


Courses taught at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin: 2010-2013
- Theoretical Introduction: Concepts and Controversies in Science of History
- History of the “Arbeitsamt” (Employment Office) in Germany (1890-1952)
- City in Motion: Berlin 1871-1918
- Minorities and Nationalism in the Habsburg Empire (1804-1918)
- Migration as an Experience in and from the German Empire
- The World in Micro Perspectives: Microsociology and Science of History (with
   Prof. Dr. Thomas Mergel)


July 2013:
International Research Award
Caroline von Humboldt-Programm
Humboldt-Universität Berlin


Freelance journalist in Basel for regional newspapers

2004, 2005-2007:
English Teacher at “Bildungsklub Basel” (further education)


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