Mi / 10:00 – 11:30

Abraham Affair: Capitalism, the End of Weimar and Historians in Trouble

Tim Schanetzky, KWI

Online (Zoom) & Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut Essen (KWI), Raum 106, Goethestr. 31, 45128 Essen

The Abraham Affair has largely been forgotten today. It was triggered by the book „The Collapse of the Weimar Republic: Political Economy and Crisis„, published in 1981 and then widely regarded as ground-breaking.

Only two years later, its author, Princeton assistant professor David Abraham, was the focus of severe criticism: two professors from Yale and Berkeley demonstrated numerous errors in this piece of neo-Marxist historiography. They spoke of systematic fraud, intervened in several appointment procedures and stopped Abraham’s career as a historian. The lecture will describe the stages of an unprecedented escalation and illustrate the interpretative dimensions of the case. This is to serve as an empirical approach to the practices of science, to institutional and methodological change. However, it also shows how forms of criticism of capitalism lost ground within academic historiography during the 1980s.