What are your research topics?
I am particularly interested in how the Christian faith has encouraged and driven people in Europe to make the world a better place. This includes a critical look at the dark side of the church, too. Why and when did some Christians get hope to stand up for democracy, freedom, or human rights, even if they lived in a dictatorship or everything around them was dark? What role did their belief, their worldviews, and their religion play? Furthermore, what is the appropriate method to write these stories and set them into the political context of the time? I am primarily researching this for the 20th and 21st centuries.
Where and how does the topic of your research have an impact?
The people and their stories I am researching are often a minority in society because of their religion. Their positions and thoughts are little known and have not become mainstream.
In the historical analysis, one can see that the paths in history were often not as normative and linear as we learned it, for example, in history lessons at school: There were alternatives, open options, and room for maneuver. This could be also an encouragement for regular citizens today: history and the world in which we live is open and can be shaped. It depends on the responsibility of each individual.
What is particularly inspiring in your field right now?
When I was a child, I wanted to be a detective. In a way, I have become that, too: Topics of which there is little information inspire me and make me curious. Then I go into archives, look into documents, which no one has seen before, and give them a meaning. Sometimes I discover Christians who have shaped recent European history in a special way – yet nobody knows them. I'm particularly happy when these people are still alive and I can interview them as contemporary witnesses. Then history connects with the presence and comes to life.
Katharina Kunter is the professor of Contemporary Church History specifically in the Nordic countries and Europe at the Faculty of Theology.
Watch Katharina Kunter’s inaugural lecture as a new professor on YouTube.