Dirk van Laak

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Dirk van Laak (born April 19, 1961 in Dinslaken ) is a German historian .


Dirk van Laak studied history and German at the University of Essen from 1982 to 1989 . From 1991 to 1993 he was a research assistant at the then North Rhine-Westphalian Main State Archives in Düsseldorf , where he worked on the estate of Carl Schmitt .

Dirk van Laak received his doctorate in 1993 at the Fernuniversität Hagen with Lutz Niethammer with a study on "Carl Schmitt in the political intellectual history of the early Federal Republic" and two years later he was a six-month visiting professor at the University of Chicago . From 1993 to 2007 he was a research assistant and assistant at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena . In 2002 he completed his habilitation in the field of modern and modern history with a thesis on the history of infrastructure in Africa. From 2007 he held the chair for contemporary history at the Justus Liebig University in Giessen . Since 2016 van Laak has been teaching at the University of Leipzig as W3 professor for German and European history from the 19th to the 21st century.

Van Laak has been a member of the main committee of the Historical Commission for Hesse since 2012 .

Harald Welzer called his history of modern infrastructure “a wonderful book”.



  • Conversations in the security of silence. Carl Schmitt in the political intellectual history of the early Federal Republic. Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 1993, ISBN 3-05-002444-5 (2nd, unchanged edition, ibid. 2002, ISBN 3-05-003744-X ; also: Hagen, Fernuniversität, dissertation, 1993).
  • with Ingeborg Villinger: Carl Schmitt estate. Directory of the holdings in the North Rhine-Westphalian Main State Archives (= publications of the state archives of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia. Series C: Sources and Research. Vol. 32). Respublica-Verlag, Siegburg 1993, ISBN 3-87710-158-5 .
  • White elephants. Demand and failure of major technical projects in the 20th century. Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart 1999, ISBN 3-421-05185-2 .
  • Imperial infrastructure. German plans for opening up Africa from 1880 to 1960. Schöningh, Paderborn et al. 2004, ISBN 3-506-71745-6 (also: Jena, Universität, habilitation paper, 2001).
  • Than anything in the world. German imperialism in the 19th and 20th centuries. Beck, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-406-52824-4 .
  • Literature and history. A relationship analysis. Past Publishing, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-86408-080-7 .
  • Everyday archeology. Cologne and its infrastructure . Greven, Cologne 2017, ISBN 978-3-7743-0678-3 .
  • Everything in flux. The lifelines of our society - history and future of infrastructure. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2018, ISBN 978-3-103-97352-5 .


  • Irene Bandhauer-Schöffmann , Dirk van Laak (eds.): The left-wing terrorism of the 1970s and the order of the sexes (=  Giessen contributions to the study of culture . No. 9 ). Scientific publishing house Trier, Trier 2013, ISBN 978-3-86821-486-4 .
  • Literature that made history. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2011, ISBN 978-3-525-30015-2 .
  • with Norbert Frei and Michael Stolleis : History in court. Historians, judges and the search for justice (= Beck'sche series. 1355). Beck, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-406-42155-5 .
  • with Andreas Göbel and Ingeborg Villinger: Metamorphoses of the Political. Basic questions of the formation of political unity since the 20s. Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 1995, ISBN 3-05-002790-8 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Everything could be different. A social utopia for free people. Frankfurt a. M. 2019. p. 171.