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Professor Bernhard Rieger


Bernhard Rieger's research places European history since the late nineteenth century in global contexts. He pays particular attention to the relationships between culture, society and economy to understand how humankind has dramatically reshaped the natural and the social worlds over the last century. Since these issues cannot be explored within the confines of the nation state, his work has drawn on comparative and transnational approaches.

Bernhard has published on Germany, Britain, the USA, and Mexico. His first book examined the fascination for technology that swept Europe between the 1890s and World War II. His most recent book is entitled The People's Car: A Global History of the Volkswagen Beetle (2013) and traces the VW Beetle's journey from failed National Socialist prestige project to lasting prominence in Western Europe, the United States and Latin America. Bernhard's work has received several awards including the Hagley Prize in Business History and the Binkley-Stephenson Prize from the Organization of American Historians. He has featured on BBC television and radio programmes and regularly works with museums including the British Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum.

Beyond continuing his interest in the global history of the automobile, Bernhard is currently pursuing a project that places the history of unemployment since the 1970s in global contexts.

PhD supervision

Bernhard has supervised research students on twentieth-century German, British, and American history and welcomes inquiries in these areas.

Major publications

  • 'The automobile', in J R McNeill (ed), The Cambridge World History: Volume VII, Part 2 (Cambridge: CUP, 2015), pp.467-489.
  • 'Matter out of place: Global commodities and the nation in the twentieth century', Jahrbuch für Europäische Geschichte (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2014), pp.201-224.
  • The People's Car: A Global History of the Volkswagen Beetle (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013).
  • Technology and the Culture of Modernity in Britain and Germany, 1890-1945 (Cambridge: CUP, 2005).

For a full list of publications, see Bernhard's Iris profile.

Media appearances