Danilo Scholz specialises in the history of political thought and modern European intellectual history. His work focuses on concepts and critiques of the state, the history of European integration, and the rise of technocratic and bureaucratic ideas in the twentieth-century.
After earning his undergraduate degree at the University of Cambridge, Danilo relocated to Paris where he undertook graduate studies at the École normale supérieure. His doctoral research in history, completed at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales in 2019, investigates how some of the most original analyses of the state in French political thought after 1945 drew on new or newly invigorated disciplines such as ethnology, geography and classics.
Two postdoctoral research positions, at the European University Institute in Florence and at Columbia University in New York, allowed him to work on his first monograph, which reconstructs the postwar administrative career of the Hegelian philosopher Alexandre Kojève (1902-1968). Swapping the lecture hall for the corridors of power, the Russian-born Kojève became an influential civil servant who helped shape French policy in a number of crucial fields including the nascent European Economic Community and Europe’s trade policy towards the so-called Third World.
As a Thyssen Fellow at KWI, Danilo will devote himself to a new project entitled “The Rise of the Administrative Mind, 1918-1968”, which aims to excavate the emancipatory promises of technocratic ideas – mainly in Great Britain, Germany, and France – that have hitherto been obscured by thick layers of anti-bureaucratic sediment. Yet historically, intellectuals, politicians and administrators expected bureaucratic and technocratic structures based on technical expertise and rational organisation to alleviate and perhaps even overcome forms of political subjection. In addition, the liberatory potential of technocracy rested on its claim to reduce both economic dependence on the vagaries of the market and inequality between social classes. In the realm of international relations, the bureaucratic global institutions that sprang up after the two world wars embodied to many contemporaries the best hope for reducing inter-state tensions and creating a peaceful global order.