Natacha Klein Käfer finished her PhD thesis under the Erasmus Mundus Programme Text and Event in Early Modern Europe, a joint doctorate which includes the Freie Universität Berlin, the University of Kent, the University of Porto, and the Charles University in Prague. Her thesis deals with the history of German charms, the transmission of ritual knowledge across time, and the adaptations in text and practice that occur as these charms migrate to the American continent. Previously, she completed her MA in Religious Studies at the University of Erfurt, and her BA in History at the Federal University of Santa Maria (BR). She has also been awarded a Herzog-Ernst Grant at the Research Library in Gotha. Her work focuses mostly in the fields of history of charms, German migrations, witchcraft, alchemy, and ritual practice.
This 2-part series is a collaboration between Natália da Silva Perez and Natacha Klein Käfer. Drawing on their respective research projects, and on their ongoing conversations about historical methodology, they will discuss scholarly strategies to approach different types of historical evidence, from the planning phase to the final draft.
Part 1) Conducting a Research Project in the Archives
Dealing with primary sources is at the core of every historical research, but it is not
always an easy step. Historians constantly have to dig in manuscript and print
collections to find particular documents, or they must find ways to systematize and
analyze huge amounts of data on a particular subject. The first part of this workshop
will discuss tools, techniques, and challenges surrounding archival research, centered
in the following topics:
Part 2) Conducting an Oral History Research Project
Behind any big historical narrative, there are always untold stories. The stories of
those without political power are often forgotten, as they rarely get the privilege to be
immortalized in the official archives. In this session, we will talk about Oral History as
a scholarly strategy that expands the idea of who can be a full historical subject. We
will touch upon the following topics:
This research project seeks to analyze the charms used by members of German immigrant communities in the US, in comparison to the ritual practices found in German immigrant regions in Southern Brazil. The main goal is to collect handwritten sources of these charms, both from institutions and from field research, in order to make the manuscript aspect of this practice more visible, which would enable further studies on the philological, codicological, ethnographic, and historical aspects of German charms in US-American territory. The intention then is to establish a more detailed contrast between how the use of charms developed in the different immigrant contexts of the US and Brazil, aiming to see these texts not as mere static recordings of practices that go back to the medieval period, but as living traditions that are deeply entangled with their cultural environments.