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Franco-German research as an expression of Franco-German friendship

The Institut franco-allemand de sciences historiques et sociales (Franco-German Institute for Historical and Social Sciences) has a new leadership: After eleven years, Prof. Pierre Monnet has passed the baton on to historian Prof. Xenia von Tippelskirch and historian Dr. habil. Falk Bretschneider.

The new dual leadership with their predecessor: Falk Bretschneider and Xenia von Tippelskirch with Pierre Monnet (center). (Photo: Jürgen Lecher)

„France owes you a great deal of gratitude“ – those are the words France’s ambassador to Germany, H.E. François Delattre, had traveled all the way from Berlin to Frankfurt to say. He was addressing Prof. Pierre Monnet, outgoing director of the Institut franco-allemand de sciences historiques et sociales (IFRA-SHS / Institut français Frankfurt). At a ceremony, held in the Trude Simonsohn and Irmgard Heydorn Hall on Goethe University’s Westend Campus, Monnet was bid farewell and the new dual leadership introduced. In the future, Prof. Xenia von Tippelskirch and Dr. habil Falk Bretschneider, both historians, will steer the institute’s fortunes.

Medieval historian Pierre Monnet served as director of the institute from 2011 to 2022. Initially called Institut français d’histoire en Allemagne, it became the Institut franco-allemand de science historiques et sociales in 2015. Having already held a professorship at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) since 2005, Monnet received an adjunct professorship at Goethe University in 2013. Under his leadership, the institute’s scientific projects and networks were developed further and its impact on Frankfurt’s urban society strengthened, with formats such as the „Café Europa“ in the Romanfabrik and the “EuropaDialoge” as part of the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften. In his laudatory speech, Prof. Christophe Duhamelle, Director of the Centre interdisciplinaire d’études et de recherches sur l’Allemagne Paris, pointed to the deepening and the intensification of Franco-German cooperation as common threads throughout Monnet’s tenure.

Matthieu Osmont, Director of the Institut français Bonn and Attaché of the French Embassy, Dr. Leopoldo Iribarren. Vice President International of the École des hauts études en sciences sociales Paris, H.E. François Delattre, French Ambassador to Germany, Prof. Xenia von Tippelskirch, Prof. Pierre Monnet, University President Prof. Enrico Schleiff, Ilde Gorguet, French Consul General Frankfurt, Dr. habil. Falk Bretschneider, Prof. Rainer Maria Kiesow, Vice President Research of the École des hautes études en sciences sociales. (Photo: Jürgen Lecher)

„Goethe University thanks Prof. Monnet for his many years of commitment in establishing the IFRA and wishes the new Franco-German dual leadership, who will lead the institute into the future, much ambition, energy and success in the implementation of their plans. IFRA is our clear commitment to Franco-German scientific cooperation and to the strategic partnership with the EHESS. IFRA’s research priorities yield synergies with topics pursued not only across all of Goethe University, but also within the framework of the Rhine-Main University Alliance, and in France,“ said Goethe University President Prof. Enrico Schleiff, adding: „Our actions have a strong signal effect and will promote positive developments in European research.“

IFRA-SHS / Institut français Frankfurt is a Franco-German institution supported by the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs (MEAE), Goethe University and the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) Paris. On the one hand, it carries out research and promotes scientific exchange between Germany and France in the field of humanities and social sciences. On the other, as the Institut français Frankfurt, it also serves as a French cultural institute that addresses a broad public with a rich cultural program all year round. With its Franco-German directorate, its international team and its dense network of cooperation partners, it is an important component of Franco-German and European academic exchange and intercultural cooperation.

After the previous director Pierre Monnet was seconded from the French EHESS, Falk Bretschneider from EHESS and Xenia von Tippelskirch from Goethe University will share responsibility for the institute in the future.

The Institut franco-allemand’s new dual leadership: Falk Bretschneider and Xenia von Tippelskirch. (Photo: Jürgen Lecher)

Xenia von Tippelskirch, born 1971, has been working as a professor of history at Goethe University since late 2022. Her focus is on the cultural and religious history of the early modern period; in particular, she has worked on religious practices and knowledge transfer between France and the Holy Roman Empire.  Falk Bretschneider, born 1974, has been living and working in France for many years. His research focuses primarily on the history of the Holy Roman Empire and that of early modern criminal justice. Both Tippelskirch and Bretschneider have long been engaged in Franco-German academic cooperation, including directing the Franco-German doctoral college „Thinking Differences“, of which Goethe University is also to become a partner in the future. Under their leadership, two central research axes will determine IFRA-SHS’ work in the coming years: The joint project „Religious Dynamics“ and the project „Imperial Spaces“. There are numerous other projects at the institute, many of them carried out with partner institutions in Germany or France.

Some 90 guests attended the ceremony held in Goethe University’s casino building, including numerous university researchers as well as several of Frankfurt’s cultural figures.

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