Max Planck Institute for Human Development

Center for the History of Emotions Director: Prof. Dr. Ute Frevert 2 Feelings such as hate, fear, joy, envy, and pride are deeply personal human experi­ ences. They are powerful forces driving our behavior. And not only do emotions change over the lifespan, they also have a history of their own: Feelings are learned and cultivat­ ed. And exactly which feelings are accept­ able at any given time in history is subject to cultural and societal processes. Family, school, and the world of work play a role here, as do institutions such as state and church. Of course, these contextual condi­ tions have changed over time. Two hundred years ago, people’s emotional lives were different than they are today. Whereas peo­ ple often used to be frightened of witches, for example, we are now afraid of climate change and terrorism. How people express their emotions also changes over time. Not only do emotions have a history, moreover, they also make history. Emotions have been aroused, manipulated, and in­ strumentalized since time immemorial—in private as well as in public life, and in the context of both culture and consumption. Wars, revolutions, and even daytoday pol­ itics would be unthinkable without them. Since 2008, the researchers of the Center for the History of Emotions have been in­ vestigating the emotional structures of the past and present. The historians work close­ ly with psychologists, ethnologists, sociolo­ gists, and with scholars of literature, art, education, and music to uncover the traces of change in emotions over the course of history. They focus on the 18th to 20th cen­ turies, comparing western European and south Asian societies, with a focus on India. Do emotions have a history?