Steffi Marung


Steffi Marung studied political science and German literature in Halle, Berlin, and Prague. Until 2010 she was a researcher at the Leipzig Centre for the History and Culture of East Central Europe (GWZO) where she undertook her PhD in global studies on shifting border regimes as a consequence of EU enlargement after 1990. Along with her position at CAS, she teaches global history at the Global and European Studies Institute (GESI) of the University of Leipzig and is a board member of the European Network in Universal and Global History (ENIUGH).

Current Research Project

“Fighting Scientists”: Soviet Africanists in the 20th century


Area studies as a specifically institutionalized form of producing knowledge about the world have come under pressure both academically and politically after the end of the Cold War. So far this discussion has focused on developments in the transatlantic scientific community, thus leaving out of the picture processes and positions both on the Eastern side of the Iron Curtain and in the global South. This silencing obstructs the view on key dynamics of knowledge production during the Cold War era. However, a closer study of area studies in Eastern Europe and its entanglements with its "target regions" helps to globalize both the history of area studies as well as the history of globalization – by investigating not only the efforts of the "Second World" to make sense of and profit from a changing world order but also the positions, challenges and linkages with and within the regions investigated. The study puts particular focus on African Studies in the Soviet Union and its entanglements with African scholars, students and activists. Not only as a history of knowledge production during the Cold War but particularly as a history of shifting spatial frameworks in that era the study draws attention to the communication between two world regions which are often treated as marginal in the narrative of 20th century globalization processes. 

Rooted in a longer tradition of Oriental studies in the pre-revolutionary period and focussing very much on linguistic and historical research during the 1920s and 1930s African Studies in the Soviet Union gained considerable momentum in the 1950s and 1960s, with the process of decolonization in Africa triggering intensive public and political interest all over the world. In the search for scientific and political answers to the new international situation, African studies in the Soviet Union fulfilled important functions such as providing information, legitimizing and theorizing alternative development paths and helping to establish Soviet-African relations. In the 1970s and 1980s these functions changed as the impact and prominence of African studies in the Soviet Union declined. 

When investigating this history it is necessary to reflect on what is often described as peculiarities of Soviet area studies. First, neither Tzarist Russia nor the Soviet Union had conquered colonies overseas. This was mobilized as a powerful argument underlining the anti-colonial perspective of Soviet scholars. At the same time the history of Russian colonization of Siberia and the Caucasus region became a crucial test case for this self-description after the end of the Cold War when Russian scholars started reconsidering their traditions of area studies. The study aims to grasp the specificities of „doing area studies“ in a country without (overseas) colonies but with a peculiar ambition to shape the fate of other world regions – while it was confronted with discourses about its own backwardness at the same time. Secondly, in the first phase of Soviet area studies the KomIntern played a particular role, thus combining the political project of a communist world revolution with the effort to produce, conceptualize and institutionalize knowledge about different world regions. This linkage became ever more a challenge for Soviet African Studies during and after the 1960s’ wave of decolonization when early hopes for the breakthrough of the communist world revolution were dissatisfied and major theoretical claims about the path of developement towards socialism had to be adjusted in light of actual developments. The study will investigate how what had happened during the fights for independence in Africa has challenged and shaped the academic concepts and institutional patterns of Soviet area studies and to which extent African actors were able to influence this shift. Thirdly, Soviet area studies have been critisized for not pursueing serious „field research“, as only few Soviet scholars were allowed to visit the countries under investigation. At the same time, the Soviet Union attracted thousands of students from former European colonies, who were e.g. educated at the Patrice-Lumumba-University in Moscow founded in 1960. Thus, one of the aims of the study is to investigate if the encounters between Africans in Moscow and elsewhere in the Soviet Union have contributed to research about Africa in a peculiar form of "field research at home", as well as to look for how these encounters have impacted not only on the Soviet vision of the world but also on the "African" perception of the Soviet world. And finally, Soviet African Studies have been institutionalized both in the Academy of Sciences in Moscow and in universities e.g. in Moscow and Leningrad. Since the late 1960s they were separated in the Academy of Sciences into a Social Science/ Economics branch institutionalized in the Africa Institute, which had been founded in 1959, and a historical branch in the Center for African History in the Institute for World History, founded in 1971 as a counterbalance to the Social Science orientation of the Africa Institute. The historicization of these specific institutional trajectories helps to better understand the particular scientific dynamics of area studies research and teaching in relation to political developments of the time.

Research Interests

  • » Regimes of territorialization and border regimes in global history since mid-19th century
  • » History of area studies
  • » European integration history since early 20th century

Field Research

2012Archival research (Moscow, Russia)
2011Archival research (Stellenbosch, South Africa)
2008Field research (Kiev and L’viv, Ukraine)
2006Field research (Brussels, Belgium; Warsaw, Poland; Lublin, Poland)


2011PhD, Global Studies
(University of Leipzig, Germany)
2006 - 2009PhD candidate, Graduate Center Humanities and Social Sciences, Class "Transnationalization and Regionalization from the 18th Century to the Present"
(Research Academy Leipzig, University of Leipzig, Germany)
2004MA, Political Science and German Literature
1997 - 2004Studies in Political Science and German Literature
(University of Halle, Germany; Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany; Charles University, Czech Republic)

Teaching & Languages

Winter Semester 
Seminar, The Global Cold War
(University of Leipzig, University of Addis Ababa)
Summer Semester 
Seminar, Europeanization and Globalization
(University of Leipzig)
Winter Semester
Seminar, Approaches to the History of Europeanization 
(University of Leipzig, Germany)
Winter Semesters
2007 - 2011
Seminar, Introduction into Global History
(University of Leipzig, Germany)
Winter Semesters
2006 - 2009
Seminar, Methods of Globalization Research – Introduction into Interview Research
(University of Leipzig, Germany)
Since Summer 2006Co-organizer of the Working Group for PhD students “Global History and Transnationalization” of the Research Academy Leipzig (University of Leipzig, Germany)
Since 2006Lecturer at the Global and European Studies Institute of the University of Leipzig in the Erasmus Mundus Master Programme "Global Studies: A European Perspective" and Master Programme "European Studies" as well as in the Master Programme "Global Studies with a Special Emphasis on Peace and Security in Africa" at Addis Ababa University.


German (mother tongue)
English(advanced: speaking, writing, comprehension)
French(advanced: speaking, writing, comprehension)
Russian(advanced: speaking, writing, comprehension)
Czech(basic: comprehension)
Polish(basic: comprehension)

Employment & Professional Memberships

Since 2011Senior Researcher
(Center for Area Studies, University of Leipzig, Germany)
2006 – 2010Research Associate
(Project Group "East Central Europe in a Transnational Perspective", Leipzig Centre for the History and Culture of East Central Europe, Germany)
March - December 2005Research Assistant
(Project Group "'Außereuropa’ und die europäischen Wissenschaftskulturen. Konzeptionen und Funktionen von Lateinamerika und Afrika in den modernen Humanwissenschaften Deutschlands im Vergleich zu Westeuropa und Ostmitteleuropa (1945-2000)", Center for Advanced Study, University of Leipzig, Germany)


Professional Memberships
Member of the board of the European Network in Universal and Global History (ENIUGH)
Member of the steering committee of the Network of World and Global History Organizations (NOGWHISTO)

Awards & Fellowships

2010, 2011Nominated for the Theodor-Litt-Prize of the University of Leipzig for excellence in teaching
1998 - 2004Fellowship of the Evangelisches Studienwerk Villigst

Conferences & Workshops

24 January 2013

Workshop "The Academic Making of the Orient: Russian, Central European and Transatlantic Careers"
(Leipzig Centre for the History and Culture of East-Central Europe in cooperation with the Centre for Area Studies, University of Leipzig, Germany)

Workshop organizer (together with Katja Naumann)
1-3 November 2012

Conference “The Making of the Humanities III”
(Rome, Italy)

Presented paper (together with Katja Naumann):
"Oriental Studies across the Atlantic: International Networks and the Making of the Discipline after the Russian Revolution"
4 September 2012

CAS Workshop Series – Reflexive Area Studies, Workshop III: "Space and Area Studies in a Post-Territorial Age?"
(Centre for Area Studies, University of Leipzig, Germany)

11 - 14 April 2012

Ninth European Social Science History Conference
(Glasgow, United Kingdom)

Covener of panels "Mastering Space" and "Area Studies"

Chair of panel "Public Diplomacy"

7 July 2011

CAS Workshop Series – Reflexive Area Studies, Workshop II: "Institutionalization and Positionality of Area Studies"
(Centre for Area Studies, University of Leipzig, Germany)

11-14 April 2011

13rd European Congress on World and Global History
(London, United Kingdom)

Convener of panels "Area Studies in the Soviet Union" and "Economic Spaces. Spatial Patterns in Economic Activities in the 'Eastern Bloc'"
28 September - 1 October 2010

48. Deutscher Historikertag
(Berlin, Germany)

Presented paper:
"Die Transnationalität Europas in der Europageschichtsschreibung: Herausforderungen für die Integrationsgeschichte" [Europe Transnational in the Historiography on Europe – a Challenge for European Integration History]

23 November 2011

Workshop "Transnationale Geschichte Ostmitteleuropas: Territorialisierung in der zweiten Hälfte des 19. Jahrhunderts" [East-Central European History in a Transnational Perspective: Territorialization in the Second Half of the 19th Century]
(Leipzig Centre for the History and Culture of East-Central Europe, Germany)

Workshop organizer
13-16 April 2010

8th European Social Science History Conference
(Ghent, Belgium)

Presented paper:
"African Studies in the Soviet Union"
8-11 October 2009

German Studies Association Conference
(Washington, DC, USA)

Presented paper:
"Moving Borders - Negotiated Territorialities. Border Regimes between Germany, Poland and Ukraine in the context of EU Eastern Enlargement"


Marung, Steffi and Naumann, Katja, eds. Vergessene Vielfalt. Territorialität und Internationalisierung in Ostmitteleuropa seit der Mitte des 19. Jahrhunderts (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck&Ruprecht, 2014).

Marung, Steffi. Die wandernde Grenze. Die EU, Polen und der globale Wandel politischer Räume, 1990-2010 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck&Ruprecht, 2013).


Articles and Book Chapters:
Marung, Steffi. "Neue und alte Grenzen, neue und alte Missionen: Polens Ort in Europa." In Kommunikation über Grenzen, eds. Hans-Christian Petersen, Benjamin Conrad, and Lisa Bicknell (Mainz: Lit-Verlag, 2013).
Marung, Steffi and Katja Naumann. "The Making of Oriental Studies: Its Transnational and Transatlantic Past." In The Making of the Humanities. Vol. III, eds. Rens Bod, Jaap Maat and Thijs Weststeijn (Amsterdam: University Press, 2014): 415431.
Marung, Steffi. "Die Kartierung der Europäischen Nachbarschaft. Kartographische Narrative für eine neue Frontier." In Kampf der Karten. Propaganda- und Geschichtskarten als politische Instrumente und Identitätstexte, eds. Vadim Oswalt and Peter Haslinger (Marburg: Herder-Institut, 2013): 312334.
Marung, Steffi. "Peculiar Encounters with the "Black Continent": Soviet Africanists in the Global 1960s and the Expansion of the Discipline." In Self-Reflexive Area Studies, ed. Matthias Middell (Leipzig: Leipziger Universitätsverlag, 2013): 103134.
Marung, Steffi. "Grenzen und Frontiers: Transnationale und globalhistorische Perspektiven auf ihre Geschichte" In Beiträge zur Tagung "Entgrenzte Räume? Konstruktion und Relevanz von Grenzen im Wandel" an der Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg vom 14. bis 15. Januar 2011, eds. Andreas Christ, Katharina Meißner, Madlen Reimer, Agatha Rudnik, Lukas Werther, and Jana Wolf (Bamberg: Universität Bamberg, 2012): 6795.
Marung, Steffi. "Ungleiche Schwestern in der europäische Familie: Russische Orientalistik und sowjetische Afrikanistik als Teil der europäischen Regionalwissenschaften seit dem Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts." In Kultur und Beruf in Europa (= Europäische Geschichte in Quellen und Essays. Band 2), eds. Isabella Löhr, Matthias Middell, and Hannes Siegrist (Stuttgart: Steiner-Verlag, 2012): 227237.
Marung, Steffi. "Moving Borders and Competing Civilising Missions. Germany, Poland, and Ukraine in the Context of the EU's Eastern Enlargement." In Walls, Borders, and Boundaries. Spatial and Cultural Practices in Europe (=Spektrum. Publications of the German Studies Association Band 4), eds. Marc Silberman, Karen E. Till, and Janet Ward (New York/ Oxford: Berghahn Book, 2012): 131149.
Marung, Steffi. "Europa nach 1989." In Atlas der Globalisierung. Das 20. Jahrhundert, eds. Dorothée d’Aprile, eds. Barbara Bauer, Dietmar Bartz, Niels Kadritzke, Ulf Kadritzke, and Chistian Semler (Berlin: 2011): 66f.
Marung, Steffi. "Anssi Paasi." In Theoretiker der Globalisierung, eds. Matthias Middell and Ulf Engel (Leipzig: Leipziger Universitätsverlag, 2010): 381395.
Marung, Steffi. "Zivilisierungsmissionen à la polonaise: Polen, Europa und der Osten" [Civilizing Missions à la polonaise: Poland, Europe, and the East]. Comparativ 20, no. 1 (2010): 100122.
Marung, Steffi."György Konráds 'Mein Traum von Europa'. Die Mitteleuropadiskussion der 1980er Jahre." (György Konráds 'My dream of Europe'. The Debate on 'Central Europe' in the 1980s) Themenportal Europäische Geschichte (2008), URL: and source for the essay: Konrád, György: Mein Traum von Europa (September 1985). In Themenportal Europäische Geschichte (2008), URL:
Marung, Steffi and James W. Scott, eds. "Border Research in a Global Perspective" Comparativ 17, no. 4 (2007).
Franke, Steffi. "Introduction: Border Research in a Global Perspective." In Border Research in a Global Perspective, eds. Steffi Franke and James W. Scott, Comparativ 17, no. 4 (2007): 715.
Franke, Steffi. "Die Grenze, die keine sein möchte oder: Potentiale der Gleichzeitigkeit. Exklusion und Inklusion an der neuen östlichen Außengrenze der Europäischen Union" [The border which doesn’t want to be one or: Potentials of synchronicity. Exclusion and Inclusion at the new external border of the European Union]. Osteuropa, no. 2-3 (2007): 145158.
Franke, Steffi. "Das politische System der Bundesrepublik" [The political system of the Federal Republic of Germany]. In Dictionnaire du Monde Germanique, eds. Michel Espagne and Jacques Le Rider (Paris: Edition Bayard, 2007): 951953.
Franke, Steffi. "Politische Räume und nationale Identität. Die Mitteleuropadiskussion in der Tschechischen Republik" [Political Spaces and national identity. The debate on 'Central Europe' in Czech Republic] Zeitschrift für internationale Beziehungen 11, no. 2 (2004): 203238.
About 30 reviews and conference reports on H-Soz-Kult, history.transnational and in Osteuropa and Südosteuropa-Studien