Does Trust Have a History?
A lot of what goes wrong in the world today – in the economy, in politics, in personal relations – is attributed to a lack of trust. Our obsession with trust is not a recent phenomenon, though; it has been a preoccupation of modernity ever since the eighteenth century, when the upheaval of the French Revolution introduced trust into the emotional lexicon of continental Europe. As much as trust is supported by state institutions, it is also a personal investment that depends on shared expectations and desires. As such, it can easily be manipulated and instrumentalized by those in power. But it can also be used to empower citizens and limit state authority.
Ute Frevert is the director of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development (Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung) in Berlin, where she also leads the Centre for the History of Emotions. Between 2003 and 2007 she was a professor of German history at Yale University and she has taught history at the University of Konstanz, the University of Bielefeld, and the Freie Universität Berlin. Her research interests cover the social and cultural history of modern times, gender history, and political history. In 1998 she was awarded the Leibniz prize of the DFG. Her major works include Men of Honour: A Social and Cultural History of the Duel (1991), Mann und Weib und Weib und Mann. Geschlechterdifferenzen in der Moderne (1995), Eurovisionen. Ansichten guter Europäer im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert (2003), and A Nation in Barracks: Conscription, Military Service and Civil Society in Modern Germany (2004). She is coauthor of Sprachen des Politischen. Medien und Medialität in der Geschichte (2004), Neue Politikgeschichte. Perspektiven einer historischen Politikforschung (2005), and Gefühlswissen. Eine lexikalische Spurensuche in der Moderne (2011). Among other volumes, she has edited Vertrauen. Historische Annäherungen (2003) and Geschichte bewegt. Über Spurensucher und die Macht der Vergangenheit (2006).