A. Writing the History of Political Culture

The study of the cultural dimension of politics has proven to be one of the most enriching ‘turns’ in political history. Influenced by developments in the related fields of cultural anthropology and semiotics, it has come to encompass a wide and diverse array of topics, ranging from political ritual over political symbolism to political discourse, political and social action and social movements. Since the 1990s scholars have also turned to the spatial and material contexts surrounding the spheres of power. A prominent voice in recent research on the history of political culture is that of Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger (Münster), whose work on the concept of ‘political communication’ has become widely influential. Nevertheless, the study of political culture also faces criticism in that the concept itself is (or has become) too unwieldy to be of use and does not (or no longer) contribute to our understanding of macro-developments in politics. This session will explore the ways in which the study of political culture has contributed to the field of political history, and how it may continue to do so in the future. How has research into the cultural aspects of politics informed our insights into the nature and functioning of political power, and how should we evaluate its added value? What promising directions have so far been un(der-)explored, and to what extent can these relate to – and engage with – other scholarly disciplines? In short, what kind of possibilities does the study of political culture have to offer, and how may we avoid its pitfalls?


Coordination: Dries Raeymaekers

Key note: Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger

Panelists: Marnix Beyen, Dennis Bos and Lotte Jensen


Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger (Universität Münster): German historian Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger analyses the early modern age. She studied history, literature and the history of art at the University of Cologne. Since 1997, she holds the chair of Early Modern Age at the University of Münster. One of her main research interests is the study of rituals. Her main research specialty is the Holy Roman Empire. Her focus lies on the political and cultural movements and changes in Europa in the Age of Enlightenment. Since 1998, she is a member of the ‘Vereinigung für Verfassungsgeschichte’ and since 2003, member of the ‘Historischen Kommission für Westfalen’.


Marnix Beyen (University of Antwerp):  Marnix Beyen is a professor at the University of Antwerp. Originally his research interests included the ways in which cultural élites represented their nation (especially Belgium and the Netherlands) by means of language, history, science or the arts. Nowadays his interests have shifted to processes of political representation, and the parliamentary cultures of the Western European countries (Belgium, the Netherlands and France) in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.


Dennis Bos (Leiden University): Dennis Bos is a lecturer at Leiden University. He studied history and received a Ph.D. at the University of Amsterdam. His research interests include political culture, political legitimacy, political violence and the socialist labour movement. Previously, he was a post-doc researcher at the University of Groningen. His current research deals with the politics of remembrance and analyses the influence of the Paris Commune of 1871 and its memory within the international socialist, communist and anarchist movement during the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Moreover, Bos is a member of the Editorial Committee of the International Review of Social History and editor of ‘Onvoltooid Verleden’, website for the history of social movements.


Lotte Jensen (Radboud University Nijmegen): Lotte Jensen is Professor of Dutch Cultural and Literary History at Radboud University Nijmegen. She studied Dutch and philosophy at the University of Utrecht. Previously, she was affiliated as a post-doc researcher with the department of Dutch literature at the University of Amsterdam. In 2010-2011, she was a guest professor at the University of Ghent. Currently she works on the research project ‘Dealing with Disasters in the Netherlands. The Shaping of Local and National Identities, 1421-1890’ (2017-22), for which she received a NWO-VICI grant.

B. Writing the History of Political Institutions

How to write the history of political institutions? Questions about the role of institutions in the political order are quintessential to political-historical research. In an era in which the role of national governments, parliaments and political parties seems to decrease while the influence of lobbyists, interest groups, NGO’s and the EU increases these questions are as topical as ever before. Still, the question is how political historians should deal with these seemingly institutional changes. To what extent does a shift from national to international and from government to governance urge us to change our methods and research objects? What are the consequences of these dynamics for political-historical research today?


Coordination: Ronald Kroeze

Key note: Mark Bevir

Panelists: Carla van Baalen, Anne Heyer, Wolfgang Wagner


Mark Bevir (University of California, Berkeley): Mark Bevir is Professor of Political Science at the University of California. He is also the Director of the Center for British Studies, at the University of California, Berkeley. He currently teaches courses on political theory and philosophy, public policy and organization and methodology. Also, Bevir is Professor in the Graduate School of Governance, United Nations University (MERIT) and a Distinguished Research Professor in the College of Arts and Humanities, Swansea University. His research interests include ethics, political philosophy, and history of political thought. Bevir has published extensively in philosophy, history, and political science literatures. He also analyses public policy, with a focus on organization theory, democratic theory and governance.


Carla van Baalen (Radboud University Nijmegen): Carla van Baalen is Director of the Centre of Parlementary History in Nijmegen. At the CPG, there’s research about the historiography of cabinets after World War II. Also, since 2001, she is Professor of Parliamentary History at the Radboud University, Nijmegen. Her expertise include Dutch Parliamentary History and the formation of cabinets in the Netherlands. Moreover, she is  member of the Montesquieu Institute since 2006. She is also a member of the ‘Staatscommissie parlementair stelsel’. In 2005 and 2006, she was a member of the ‘National Convention’, which gave advise on political renewal.


Anne Heyer (Leiden University): Anne Heyer is a Ph.D. candidate at Leiden University, affiliated to the Political Legitimacy profile area. She is interested in social movements and political parties. She is working at the Institute for History on the subproject “The Birth of Political Mass Parties” of the NWO-funded project The Promise of Organization. This last project deals with the political history of the nineteenth century. Heyer studies the initial phase of the early mass political parties at the end of this century.


Wolfgang Wagner (VU, Amsterdam): Wolfgang Wagner is Professor of International Security at the VU, Amsterdam, with a focus on domestic politics and conflict in liberal democracies. He received his doctorate form the Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe University Frankfurt am Main and taught at the universities of Tübingen, Frankfurt, Konstanz, Darmstadt and Mannheim. Between 2002 and 2007 he worked at the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF). He was a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley in 2007 and at the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin in 2016. 




C. Politics of the History of Politics

Present-day political developments such as the rise of right-wing populism in both the United States and Europe and the new directions in European integration as a consequence of Brexit confront political historians with the inherent political nature of their subject. Especially now that scholars more and more are supposed to focus on impact and social value of their work, even historians are eager to translate contemporary challenges into new research questions and to present the outcomes of their research tot non-academic forums. However, one can wonder whether that suffices to address the fundamental concerns regarding the preoccupations and prejudices of academic researchers that are voiced in recent Dutch political debate. To what extent should these concerns also regard political historians? Do political mechanisms play a role in the way political historians construct their research questions? And if so, what does that implicate for the role political historians play in legitimating or criticizing the political assumptions of their own time and that of their predecessors? Also, do the current times require a more active role of political historians in societal debate and if so, which topics need to be addressed?

This panel, consisting of both academic historians as well as historians that now work in a more political environment, will discuss the political nature of the history of politics as it comes to the fore in matters such as left-wing idealism, the memory of slavery, or the ‘ever closer’ European Union.

Coordination: Karin van Leeuwen

Key note: Marc Stears

Panelists: Dienke Hondius, Wouter Beekers, Wim van Meurs


Marc Stears (New Economics Foundation): British political theorist Marc Stears is Chief Executive of the New Economics Foundation. Previously, he was Professor of Political Theory and Fellow of University College, Oxford and Director of the Centre for Political Ideologies at University College, Oxford. He is interested in the impact of politics and political systems on people’s lives. Also, Stears is a member of the Institute for Public Policy Research, where he analyses the relationship between state and society. His published works focus mainly on the development of progressive political movements in the UK and the USA.


Wouter Beekers: Since February 2013, Historian Wouter Beekers is Director of the ‘Wetenschappelijk Instituut’ of the political party ‘ChristenUnie’. In this function, he wants to make clear the importance of Christian politics. Previously, he was assistant-director of the Historisch Documentatiecentrum Nederlands Protestantisme of the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam. He coordinated a research project about Christian-social organizations. For the Wetenschappelijk Instituut, Beekers works on a new Christian-social vision of the relationship between the state, the market and society.


Dienke Hondius (VU University Amsterdam): Dienke Hondius is an associate professor of contemporary history at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam. Her research interests include the Holocaust, anti-Semitism, racism, toleration, genocide, European expansion and the history of Jews in the Netherlands. Currently, she’s involved in the research project history of ‘race’ and racism, Africans in the Netherlands and an oral history project: eyewitnesses of the Holocaust in the Netherlands. Moreover, she is research associate at the Center for Historical Culture (Erasmus University Rotterdam), staff member at the Anne Frank House and co-director of Summer School on Black Europe in Amsterdam.


Wim van Meurs (Radboud University Nijmegen): is a professor of European political history at the Radboud University, Nijmegen. His research interests include the history of European integration, peasant parties and political modernisation, and the politics of environmental governance. Up until 2011 he was involved in the NWO project "Repertoires of Democracy in 20th Century Europe", focussing on populism, referendums, political education and disciplined democracy.


D. Writing Global History

Today, some two decades after the ‘transnational turn’ occurred, its impact appears to have been substantial, judged by the large amount of scholarship on flows of people, ideas, products, processes and patterns operating across national boundaries. At the same time, its effect has been unevenly distributed, with national historiographies and subfields that have hardly been affected. This panel aims to take stock of recent developments and answer these questions. What has been the overall result of pleas to move beyond the narrative of the nation-state and instead adopt a transnational, or even global, perspective? To what extent has the ‘transnational turn’ had an impact on the subfield of political history? What has been the impact of ‘transnational history’ on both Dutch historiography and historiography on Dutch history?


Coordination: Liesbeth van der Grift

Key note: Corinna Unger

Panelists: Kiran Patel, Remco Raben and Anne-Isabelle Richard


Corinna Unger (European University Institute Florence): Corinna Unger is Professor Global and Colonial History (nineteenth and twentieth centuries) at the European University Institute, Florence. Previously, she was Associate Professor of Modern European History at Jacobs University, Bremen. Her publications include Entwicklungspfade in Indien: Eine internationale Geschichte, 1947-1980 and as a co-editor International Organizations and Development, 1945-1990. She was history review editor of H-Transnational German Studies and co-editor of the book series Transatlantic Historical Studies. Her fields of research include global, international and colonial history, history of development, history of knowledge, cold war and decolonization, modern India and modern Germany.


Kiran Patel (Maastricht University): Kiran Patel is Professor of European and Global History at Maastricht University since 2011. Moreover, he is head of the department of history, associate dean for research and Jean Monnet Professor. Also, he is a member of Contemporary European History; the Journal of European Integration History; Monde(s): Histoire, Espaces, Relations; New Global Studies; Ventunesimo secolo and Docupedia Zeitgeschichte. Currently, his research project focuses on the history of European integration, as well as on the history of the United States in the world. Previously, he was Professor at the European University Institute, Florence and assistant professor at Humbold University, Berlin.


Remco Raben (Utrecht University): Remco Raben is associate professor at the section History of International relations and professor of colonial and postcolonial literary and cultural history at the University of Utrecht. His research interests include non-western history, with a focus on Asia. His teaching subjects are: international relations, world history, East-West relations, the rise of Asia, Indonesia, imperialism and decolonization and the Third World. Currently, his research interests are a survey of the ‘long decolonization’ of Indonesia between the 1920’s and 1960’s and the history of postcolonial Netherlands.


Anne-Isabelle Richard (Leiden University): Anne-Isabelle Richard is a university lecturer at Leiden University. Her research interests include European and world history, from the late nineteenth century onward. She examined the influence of colonialism on the European movement in France and the Netherlands in the interwar period. Currently, she works on projects on conceptions of ‘Eurafrica’ across Europa from the late nineteenth century onward and a project on civil society and the rise of global governance.


E. Writing the Political History of the Social

One prominent thread in recent historiography articulates how society has been classified, organized and indexed by means of statecraft. Scholars such as James Scott, Patrick Joyce, Mary Poovey and Lutz Raphael, to name but a few, have probed into the mechanisms and politics of creating ‘the social’ in modern history. Not necessarily situated in the classical domain of political history, this growing body of scholarship does, however, addresses questions that are key to political history and histories of power: How and why does the state distinguish between groups based on constructed categories of race, gender, class, nationality and age? What are the long term effects of this human ‘indexing’ in terms of inequality, social in- and exclusion? How do state projects such as colonialism, population management, social engineering and welfarism (re)produce social categories? Often informed by Michel Foucault’s notions of biopolitics and governmentality, these and other questions have permeated the work of historians, including political historians.

This panel discusses how political historians might benefit from adopting a socio-historical perspective on the political. Recent studies by Pierre Rosanvallon, Patrick Joyce and Lutz Raphael, to name but a few, have shown the potential of adopting such an approach. This includes a reinvigoration of the ‘classical’ socio-historical agenda of the 1960s and 1970s, that is, approaching politics ‘from below’, from the perspective of the governed. It also entails a new history of the state with a focus on its social and material dimensions (people, practices, things and networks). In addition, a social history of the political is offered by recent studies in the field of the ‘scientization of the social’. This could trigger political historians to delve into the impact of social-scientific concepts, theories, think tanks and academic research departments which ever since the late nineteenth century have had a huge impact on policy making, conceptions of the political, democracy and citizenship.


Coordination: Harm Kaal and Stefan Couperus

Key note: Lutz Raphael

Panelists: Karwan Fatah Black, Gita Deneckere and Geertje Mak


Lutz Raphael (Universität Trier): German historian Lutz Raphael is Professor of Contemporary History at the university of Trier since 1996. His research interests are diverse: rural history in Western Europe, history of historiography, history of Europe, history of the social sciences, methodology and theory of modern historiography. Raphael is a member of the ‘Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur’ and is attached to the ‘Deutschen Historischen Institut  Londen’. He has extensive experience with coordinating and directing research programs and in cooperating with junior and senior scholars and researchers coming from different disciplinary backgrounds. He also co-organizes an annual workshop for young researchers in the field of German and European Contemporary history and is a member of the advisory board of the German Historical Institute at Paris. Moreover, he is a  member of the Editorial Board of two journals, the "Neue politische Literatur" and the "Journal of Modern European History".


Gita Deneckere (Ghent University): Gita Deneckere coordinates the research group “Social History since 1750” at Ghent University. Also, she is co-founder of the interuniversitary “Institute for Public History”. Moreover, she is a member of the Flemish Royal Academy and member of the Board of Governors of Ghent University. She is the author of 5 monographs and (co-)edited 7 other volumes. She is the promoter of UGentMemorie.be, the virtual memory of Ghent University and prepares a monograph on the societal role of Ghent University in view of its bicentennial in 2017.


Karwan Fatah-Black (Leiden University): Karwan Fatah-Black is a lecturer and assistant professor at Leiden Univerisity. His research interests include early modern history, empires, globalization, maritime history, slavery and smuggling. Fatah-Black had become an active participant in debates on historical globalization. He wrote his dissertation on the role of Paramaribo as a nodal point in Atlantic trade, in the project ‘Dutch Atlantic Connections, 1680-1795’. He currently works on the project ‘paths through slavery: urban slave agency and empowerment in colonial Suriname, 1733-1863’ and ‘resilient diversity: the governance of racial and religious plurality in the Dutch empire, 1600-1800.


Geertje Mak (Radboud University Nijmegen and University of Amsterdam): Geertje Mak is assistant professor gender history at the Institute for Gender studies, Nijmegen. She studied social and economic history at the University of Utrecht. Her research interests include the history of gender, sexuality, migration and colonialism. Her focus lies on the historically changing ‘technologies of identity’ in the research project Fabricating Identities. Until 2013, Mak was a visiting scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. Her latest book Doubting Sex. Inscriptions, Bodies, and Selves in Nineteenth-century Hermaphrodite Case Histories was published in 2012. Since 2016, she is affiliate professor of political history of gender at the University of Amsterdam.