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Christoph Kalter


Professor of Modern History

Office hours:
Room number is E1 024B. Please write an email for an appointment.

I am a German historian of modern Western Europe in the world. My published work is on the transnational entanglements and global contexts that have shaped French and Portuguese societies in the 20th century. I have a strong interest in understanding decolonization and how it affected Europe and the world. In terms of approaches, I have worked on the history of ideas, political and social movements, migrations, and memories. I have dabbled in urban history and film history. In the coming years, I hope to learn how to write (European) language(s), and particularly French, into histories of African nation-building and worldmaking in the post-independence era, ca. 1960-80.

Research interests

For general research interests, see above. I am the author of ‘Postcolonial People. The Return from Africa and the Remaking of Portugal’ (Cambridge University Press, 2022). My first book was ‘The Discovery of the Third World. Decolonization and the Rise of the New Left in France, c. 1950-1976’ (Cambridge University Press 2016), originally published as 'Die Entdeckung der Dritten Welt. Dekolonisierung und neue radikale Linke in Frankreich’ (Campus, 2011). The book received the Walter-Markov-Preis für Geschichtswissenschaften (2011) awarded by the European Network in Universal and Global History (ENIUGH) and the prize Geisteswissenschaften International – Translation Funding for Work in the Humanities and Social Sciences (2012) awarded by the Federal Republic of Germany’s Foreign Ministry, the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, and the German Publishers and Booksellers Association. In the coming years, I hope to embark on a new project tentatively entitled Languages of Transition. French- and Portuguese-Speaking Africans between Nation-Building and Worldmaking, 1950s-1980s. Additionally, since 2022, I have been a collaborator in the FCT-funded research project 'Constelações da Memória: um estudo multidireccional da migração e memória pós-colonial,' led by Dr. Elsa Peralta at the FLUL (Faculty of Humanities at the University of Lisbon).

Work experience

I joined the Universitetet i Agder (UiA) as Associate Professor of Modern History in November 2020. In October 2021, I was promoted to Professor. I hold a PhD (2010) and a venia legendi (2019) in Modern History from the Freie Universität Berlin where I have taught, researched, and worked with brilliant and kind colleagues and students at the Friedrich-Meinecke-Institut since February 2011, first as Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter, then, since September 2018 as guest lecturer, finally from September 2019 through September 2020 as Guest Professor of European History in Global Perspective. As a Feodor-Lynen-Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, I spent the better parts of 2015 and 2016 at the vibrant History Department of UC Berkeley, first as a Visiting Scholar, then as Visiting Assistant Professor. I am an Alumni of the Leibniz-Centre for Contemporary History Potsdam, where I was a doctoral researcher from 2006-2008 and an editor for Docupedia-Zeitgeschichte, an online dictionary of key concepts and debates in contemporary history, from 2008-2010.

Selected publications


Postcolonial People. The Return from Africa and the Remaking of Portugal, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2022.

The Discovery of the Third World. Decolonization and the Rise of the New Left in France, c. 1950- 1976, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016.

Die Entdeckung der Dritten Welt. Dekolonisierung und neue radikale Linke in Frankreich, Frankfurt am Main/New York: Campus-Verlag, 2011. (Globalgeschichte; 9)


Building Nations After Empire: Post-Imperial Migrations to Portugal in a Western European Context,” in Contemporary European History 33 (2024), 1, pp. 137-158.

Migrations of Decolonization, Welfare, and the Unevenness of Citizenship in the UK, France and Portugal,” in Past & Present 259 (2023), 1, 155-193. (with Claire Eldridge and Becky Taylor)

Rückkehr oder Flucht? Dekolonisierung, Zwangsmigration und Portugals ‚retornados‘,“ in Geschichte und Gesellschaft (GG) 44 (2018), 2, 250-284.

From Global to Local and Back. The ’Third World’ Concept and the New Radical Left in France," in Journal of Global History 12 (2017), 1, 115-136.

Nationalized Mourning, Nostalgic Irony: The Portuguese Decolonization in Film,” in WerkstattGeschichte 69 (2015), 55-70. (with Inga Kreuder and Ulrike Peters)

La République décolonisée. Wie die Dekolonisierung Frankreich verändert hat,” in Geschichte und Gesellschaft 37 (2011), 2, 157-197. (with Martin Rempe)

’Le monde va de l'avant. Et vous êtes en marge’. Dekolonisierung, Dezentrierung des Westens und Entdeckung der 'Dritten Welt' in der radikalen Linken in Frankreich in den 1960er-Jahren,” in Archiv für Sozialgeschichte 48 (2008), 99-132.

Das Eigene im Fremden. Der Algerienkrieg und die Anfänge der Neuen Linken der Bundesrepublik,” in Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft 55 (2007), 2, 142-161.


Dekolonisierung und postkoloniale Gesellschaften in Afrika. Perspektiven der Forschung, in Zeitgeschichte-online, Juni 2010, URL: https://zeitgeschichte-online.de/themen/dekolonisierung-und-postkoloniale-gesellschaften-afrika (together with Annette Schuhmann).

Book chapters

“La France refaite par le tiers monde,” in Singaravélou, Pierre/Asseraf, Arthur/Blanc, Guillaume/Kisukidi, Yala/Lamotte, Mélanie (eds.), Colonisations. Notre histoire, Paris (Le Seuil) 2023, 147-150.

Traumatic Loss, Successful Integration. The Agitated and the Soothing Memory of the Return from Portugal's African Empire” in Peralta, Elsa (ed.), The Retornados from the Portuguese Colonies in Africa. Memory, Narrative, and History, New York (Routledge) 2022, 35-60.

Gente Pós-colonial: Quem Eram os Retornados?”, in Peralta, Elsa/Goís, Bruno/Oliveira, Joana Gonçalo (eds.), Retornar. Traços de Memória do Fim do Império, Lisbon (Edições 70) 2017, 101-120.

A Shared Space of Imagination, Communication, and Action: Perspectives on the History of the ‘Third World,’” in Christiansen, Samantha/Scarlett, Zachary A. (eds.), The Third World in the Global 1960s, New York/Oxford (Berghahn) 2013, 23-38.

Tiers-monde et gauche radicale,” in Pigenet, Michel/Tartakowsky, Danielle (eds.), Histoire des mouvements sociaux en France. De 1814 à nos jours, Paris (La Découverte), 2012, 378-389.

"Aufbruch und Umbruch. Das 'Afrika-Jahr' vor einem halben Jahrhundert," in Zeitgeschichte-online, Oktober 2010, URL: https://zeitgeschichte-online.de/themen/aufbruch-und-umbruch.

Les damnés de ‘Nanterre.’ Extrême gauche, tiers-monde et années 68 en France,” in Dreyfus- Armand, Geneviève (Hg.), Les années 68, un monde en mouvement. Nouveaux regards sur une histoire plurielle (1962-1981), Paris (Syllepse), 2008, 62-80.

Blog posts and other writings

"Wie bestimmt die Distanz zum Untersuchungsgegenstand den Forschungsprozess?," in Zeitgeschichte-online, April 2023, https://zeitgeschichte-online.de/themen/christoph-kalter-teil-6-wie-bestimmt-die-distanz-zum-untersuchungsgegenstand-den

"Postcolonial People: The Return from Africa and the Remaking of Portugal – an Interview with Christoph Kalter," in TRAFO. Blog for Transregional Research, 23.03.2023, https://trafo.hypotheses.org/45935. (in conversation with Jacqueline Wagner)

"Which refugees are welcome? How ‘hard’ legal status and ‘soft’ notions of belonging shape the reception of displaced populations" in Refugee History, 09.03.2023, http://refugeehistory.org/blog/2023/3/9/which-refugees-are-welcome-how-hard-legal-status-and-soft-notions-of-belonging-shape-the-reception-of-displaced-populations (together with Claire Eldridge and Becky Taylor)

“The History of Others, or: The Historian as a Privileged Outsider” in FifteenEightyFour. Academic Perspectives from Cambridge University Press, 02.06.2022, http://www.cambridgeblog.org/2022/06/the-history-of-others-or-the-historian-as-a-privileged-outsider/ 

“On Decolonization,” in Cambridge Core Blog, 13.05.2022, https://www.cambridge.org/core/blog/2022/05/13/on-decolonization/

“Lisboa africana. Historiefragmenter fra en afro-portugisisk storby,” in Fortid. Studentenes historietidsskrift UiO 18 (2021), 4, pp. 63-69.

"The Strange Case of Portugal’s Returnees,” in Africa is a Country, 11.12.2020, https://africasacountry.com/2020/12/the-strange-case-of-portugals-returnees.

“Hidden in Plain Sight. Lissabon und das portugiesische Kolonialreich,” in Geschichte der Gegenwart, 08.05.2019, https://geschichtedergegenwart.ch/autorin/christophkalter/.

“Portugal dos Pequenitos, Coimbra, Portugal,” in Invisible Histories, 13.09.2017, https://histecon.fas.harvard.edu/invisible-histories/captions/portugal/index.html.

“When Third World Still Meant Hope,” in FifteenEightyFour. Academic Perspectives from Cambridge University Press, 04.11.2016, http://www.cambridgeblog.org/2016/11/when-third-world-still-meant-hope/.  

“Hotels for Refugees. Colonialism, Migration, and Tourism in Lisbon,” in Global Urban History, 02.03.2016, https://globalurbanhistory.com/2016/03/02/hotels-for-refugees-colonialism-migration-and-tourism-in-lisbon/.

“Rencontres avec Jean-Yves Barrère (1939-2009). Engagement, témoignage, histoire. Nécrologie non publié, 2009,” https://tinyurl.com/23zc67zm

"Die 'Entdeckung' des 'Tiers Monde' und die radikale Linke zwischen Nachkriegskapitalismus, Dekolonisierung und Kaltem Krieg in Frankreich (1958-1975)," in Potsdamer Bulletin für Zeithistorische Studien 38/39 (2006/07), 33-38.

Book reviews

Review of Marker, Emily, Black France, White Europe. Youth, Race, and Belonging in the Postwar Era, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2022, in: Francia-Recensio 2023 (3), 19.–21. Jahrhundert – Histoire contemporaine.

Review of Hendrickson, Burleigh, Decolonizing 1968: Transnational Student Activism in Tunis, Paris, and Dakar, Ithaca & London: Cornell University Press, 2022, in: The Global Sixties (2023).

Review of Renaud, Terence, New Lefts. The Making of a Radical Tradition. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2021, in: The Global Sixties (2022).

Review of Mende, Silke, Ordnung durch Sprache. Francophonie zwischen Nationalstaat, Imperium und internationaler Politik, 1860-1960 (= Studien zur Internationalen Geschichte; Bd. 47). Berlin / Boston: De Gruyter Oldenbourg, 2020, in sehepunkte 21 (2021), 10.

Review of Ballinger, PamelaThe World Refugees Made: Decolonization and the Foundations of Postwar Italy. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2020, in: H-Africa, H-Net Reviews. December, 2020.

Review of Weitbrecht, Dorothee, Aufbruch in die Dritte Welt. Der Internationalismus der Studentenbewegung von 1968 in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Göttingen: V&R unipress, 2012, in Archiv für Sozialgeschichte (online) 54, 2014.

Review of Neuner, Thomas, Paris, Havanna und die intellektuelle Linke. Kooperationen und Konflikte in den 1960er Jahren. Konstanz: UVK Verlag, 2012, in Comparativ 22 (2012), 6.

Review of Watt, Lori, When Empire Comes Home. Repatriation and Reintegration in Postwar Japan. Cambridge, MA/London: Harvard University Press 2009, in sehepunkte 12 (2012), Nr. 7.

Review of Scioldo-Zürcher, Yann, Devenir métropolitain. Politique d'intégration et parcours de rapatriés d'Algérie en métropole (1954-2005). Paris: Éditions de l'École des hautes études en sciences sociales 2010, in sehepunkte 12 (2012), Nr. 7.

General outreach

Como integrar a perda do império e a amargura dos retornados na história de sucesso da democracia portuguesa?”, Interview for the podcast África Agora (Cristina Peres & João Luís Amorim), July 4, 2022.

Fred i vår tid…? Om avkoloniseringen i kjølvannet av 2. verdenskrig,” foredrag Lørdagsuniversitetet UiA, Våren 2022: Arendal, Flekkefjord, Kristiansand.

“Skjult i mørket: Algeriekrigen i det postkoloniale Frankrike. Historisk innledning til filmen Skjult (Michael Haneke, 2005),” Cinemateket Kristiansand, November 30, 2021.

"Retornados portugueses ajudam a estudar migrações na Alemanha," in Diário de Notícias, 18.11.2018, https://www.dn.pt/lusa/pos-colonialismo-portugues-e-estudado-na-alemanha--10195038.html.

"Postkoloniales Portugal," in Anno [...], 17.10.2018, https://anno-punktpunktpunkt.de/015-postkoloniales-portugal.

“Christoph Kalter im Gespräch mit Hubertus Büschel und Daniel Speich im Anschluss an die Sektion Humanitäre Entwicklung und Rassismus in Afrika südlich der Sahara 1920 bis 1990,” Historikertag 2010 in Berlin, 01.10.2010,  https://zeitgeschichte-online.de/site/40209026/default.aspx.

See also my blog posts and other writings for a non-specialized audience in "Selected publications".

Scientific publications

  • Kalter, Christoph (2022). Postcolonial People: The Return from Africa and the Remaking of Portugal. ISBN: 9781108837699. Cambridge University Press. s 340.

Last changed: 2.02.2024 17:02