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The Research School for Political History (RSPH) aims to offer PhD students in the history of politics and the political a high-quality training program supervised by some of the leading scholars in the low countries. The RSPH training program is open to all PhDs based in the Netherlands, Flanders or affiliated with the Zentrum für Niederlande-Studien in Münster, conducting research in the broad field of political history, history of international relations, conflict studies, military history, area studies, global history, and other subdisciplines in premodern and modern history with an emphasis on politics. We offer an extensive curriculum of in-depth tutorials and workshops, focusing on the historiographical, thematic, conceptual and methodological aspects of political history in general and your PhD project in particular. In addition to this, considerable attention is paid to professionalization and transferable skills. The RSPH is dedicated to creating a research environment which brings you into contact with fellow PhD candidates at other universities, postdocs and senior researchers in the field of political history. We provide excellent network and platform facilities for all researchers in political history, whether ambitious to pursue a career inside or outside academia. The RSPH program for PhD students offers training in the following competencies:
Disciplinarily and Interdisciplinary: Students have an informed and critical awareness of the historical and conceptual underpinnings and contexts of political history as an intellectual tradition and academic discipline, and of its relationship to other fields of study. They have knowledge and understanding of the foundations and insights of other disciplines relevant to the study of political history.
Theories and concepts: Students have specialized knowledge and critical understanding of theoretical, conceptual and analytical notions relevant to political history. They can reflect on the principal theoretical approaches to political history, evaluate the state of the art in political history, and recognize and develop innovative research orientations in political history.
Methods and techniques: Students have focused knowledge and critical understanding of relevant methods and techniques for the study of political history, and the ability to apply proper methods and techniques to research problems. Students have an advanced and critical understanding of sources and data for political-historical research and their associated conceptual frameworks.
Communication: Students have an informed and critical awareness of the specific methods used to communicate information about one’s field in scholarly/academic and public contexts. They can use and apply the proper means of communication, suited to the aims of their scholarly and public interventions.
Professional Development: Students have an informed and critical awareness of the concrete ways that the political-historical perspective can be developed in professional situations and be of benefit to society.
The program is structured in accordance with the end terms and competencies: • Tutorials in year 1 discuss disciplinarily and Interdisciplinary, theories and concepts, and methods and techniques on an advanced level • Workshops in year 2 are devoted to the application of methods and techniques, disciplinarily and interdisciplinary, and introduce international outreach and science communication. • Seminars in years 3 and 4 are devoted to the individual application and assessment of disciplinarily and Interdisciplinary, theories and concepts, methods and techniques as well as science communication and professional development.
Opening of the Academic year – the history of ‘ordinary citizens’ and their relation to power
Date: 23 September 2022 Location: Trippenhuis, Amsterdam Time: 13.00 – 18.00 (including drinks) The beginning of a new academic year is marked by the annual RSPH opening event. The theme of this year’s opening is writing the history of “ordinary citizens” and their relation to power. Harm Kaal (Radboud University) and Marnix Beyen (University of Antwerp) will deliver an introduction, after which journalist and author Marcia Luyten will give a lecture and discuss the theme. Before the plenary thematic session, there will be a meet & greet for all PhDs enrolled in the school. For PhD candidates at the start of their trajectory, this is the moment to get acquainted with the program, and meet the program directors and fellow PhDs. For advanced PhD candidates, the event offers the opportunity to catch up with each other and make plans for the coming year. As a bonus, the thematic session following the meet & greet offers a sneak preview of the summer school scheduled at the end of the academic year. This summer school is open to both RMA and PhD students.
Year One: Tutorials
B.1 Introduction to the Discipline: What is Political History? Supervisor: prof. dr. Ido de Haan (Utrecht University) Date: 28 October 2022 In this tutorial, we will discuss the very general, yet at the same time crucial question ‘what is political history?’ The discipline of political history has changed quite dramatically in the last couple of decades. From a well-established, yet also rather stuffy history of national political institutions, it has become a vibrant study of the political as it manifests itself in a variety of places and a multiplicity of forms, and is informed by various disciplines, ranging from law and philosophy to political science and anthropology. In this tutorial, we discuss reflections on the history of ‘the political’ and invite you to reflect on your use of the term, how your research is a contribution to an interdisciplinary political history, and how you account for processes like politicization and depoliticization.
B.2 Crucial Concepts in Political History Supervisors: prof.dr. Annelien DeDijn (Utrecht University) and dr. Karin van Leeuwen (Maastricht University) Date: 18 November 2022 Despite their crucial importance for defining a subject, concepts often receive only little attention in historical research projects. While the lessons on conceptual change learnt from scholars such as Koselleck and Skinner have resulted in the establishment of an entire subfield of conceptual history, many historians working on politics in practice are easily tempted to leave conceptual reflections entirely to these specialists. Yet, it is hard to imagine research projects in political history that do not in one or another way engage with concepts such as power, violence, rule of law, institutions, identity, colony, democracy, ideology, representation etc. PhDs working on international topics, like the history of international relations, often do work with concepts, often borrowed from the social sciences. In this tutorial, we will briefly introduce you to the various ways in which both historians and social scientists deal with the challenge to define and/or reflect upon their central concepts, and invite you to reflect upon the concepts central to your research project.
B.3 Methods and Techniques in Political History Supervisors: prof.dr. Dirk Jan Wolffram (University of Groningen) and dr. Joris Gijsenbergh (Radboud University) Date: 12 January 2023 This tutorial is dedicated to research methods: the trajectory from historiographical debate through research questions to an effective research strategy. In this interactive tutorial, the central questions are: what is the use of historical methodology, what is your methodological approach, how does your topic legitimize your research methods, and what are the major methodological challenges of your research project? In the tutorial, PhD candidates reflect on the aforementioned questions, present their most urgent methodological bottleneck and try to find the best strategy to solve their problems together with other PhD candidates and senior researchers.
B.4 Sources in Political History Supervisor: dr. Marijke van Faassen (Huygens ING) Date: 10 February 2023 The increasing use of digital techniques for researching both analogue and digital texts, archival sources and data clouds requires a new research methodology in which traditional knowledge is closely interwoven with digital skills. In this tutorial, an interdisciplinary team of political historians and information scientists will use case studies from their research to provide insight into this current methodological discussion and to more practically discuss ways to find, criticize, contextualise and finally prepare such complex sources to use them for research. To prepare for the tutorial, the PhD-students are requested to write a text in which they describe the digital and ‘paper’ sources they use in their research and reflect on the advantages and disadvantages of using them. During the tutorial, there will be ample time to interactively discuss the problems they experience and to create awareness for alternative sources to work around the problems they face.
B.5 Themes in Political History: governmentality and gender Supervisor: prof. dr. Geertje Mak (University of Amsterdam) Date: 10 March 2023 In the final tutorial of the year, we bring together conceptualizations of the political, relevant concepts for the study of politics, methodologies and sources, by focusing on a specific theme in political history. Based on readings and presentations by senior researchers, the participants will practice the integration of these various aspects of research in political history in a coherent research outline. This year’s tutorial departs from Foucault’s notion of governmentality – the capacity of any administration to direct and transform the people governed. Crucial to this notion is that you cannot govern people when you do not know them, but you cannot know them if you don’t have any control over them. Power and knowledge (over people) are thus entangled. As James Scott explained in his seminal Seeing like a State, reordering the population and the land is a necessary precondition for rule or ‘development’. Therefore, categorizations – even in very mundane techniques of administration – are key to governmentality (see for example Peter Miller and Nikolas Rose Governing the Present). For this tutorial, we specifically consider the crucial role of gender and sexuality in colonial categorizations.
Year Two: Workshops
B.6 Advanced Thesis Design: justifying your choices Supervisor: dr. Anne Heyer (Leiden University) and dr. Carla Hoetink (Radboud University) Date: 21 October 2022 This Workshop poses the question: ‘What exactly am I doing and how can that be justified?’. Based on a short, advanced paper on the methodology of their projects, PhD students explore opportunities, challenges and limitations of their theoretical and methodological choices, and alternatives presented and discussed in class.
B.7 Interdisciplinary Approaches Supervisor: dr. Iva Pesa (University of Groningen) and dr. Christian Wicke (Utrecht University) Date: 25 November 2022 This Workshop looks beyond the limits of the discipline of political history. How do/can other scientific disciplines inspire and inform political history research? Which debates outside the confines of political history are of interest, and to which debates can your PhD project contribute? We will look at relevant examples of interdisciplinarity in political history research, for example, political anthropology and political economy approach.
B.8 Internationalization Supervisor: prof.dr. Jacco Pekelder (Zentrum für Niederlande-Studien, Münster) Date: 20-21 January OR 17-18 February 2023 Please note: this two-day Workshop takes place in Münster (Germany) and will include a social program As a professional historian, you will have to present your research both in national and international print and at conferences. You will also want to be able to organize (international) seminars yourself. This two-day Workshop is meant to learn you how to present yourself and your research in an international context. This Workshop will result in a proposal for a symposium or a conference panel, co-created with one or two fellow PhD candidates.
B.9 Advanced Thesis Design: presenting and defending Supervisor: dr. Maartje Janse (Leiden University) and Jan Julia Zurné (Radboud University) Date: 21 April 2023 This Workshop focuses on effectively presenting your PhD project before an audience of senior political history scholars and experts in your field, and responding to comments, feedback and essential critique.The emphasis is on academic debate, Q&A and presentation technique.
Year Three: Seminars
B.10 Outreach and Communication Supervisor: prof.dr. Dirk Jan Wolffram (Groningen University) and dr. Adriejan van Veen (Radboud University Nijmegen) Date: 4 November 2022 This seminar is dedicated to the science outreach and communication – vis-à-vis both academia and the public at large – of the individual PhD projects of the participants. Invited speakers from academia, publishing, and journalism will provide information and share experiences on publishing a PhD thesis, presenting scientific results for a larger audience, and publishing in scientific journals.
B.11 Applied History and Current Affairs Supervisor: dr. Harm Kaal (Radboud University), Stefan Couperus (University of Groningen) and Beatrice de Graaf (Utrecht University) Date: 24 February 2023 This Workshop has a dual goal. First of all, it invites PhD students to reflect on the links between their research project, their research methodologies, and current affairs. Students are asked to rethink the relevance and the methodologies of their project from the perspective of current social and political concerns. What is the ‘big question’ that you are trying to respond to? Second, in interaction with people working in the sphere of policy-making, heritage, the press and think tanks students reflect on how they can develop methods of ‘applied history’, how their research can be considered ‘usable history’ for others outside academia, and/or how they may present their academic skills and knowledge to the world beyond academia, also with an eye towards their post-PhD-career.
B.12 Professional Development Supervisor: dr. Carla Hoetink (Radboud University Nijmegen) and dr. Margit van der Steen (Huygens ING) Date: 14 April 2023 This final seminar is dedicated to knowledge utilization, CV, finding your way to or creating research consortia and –networks, preparing for grant applications, and career opportunities outside academia. RSPH alumni will share their insights and experiences with you, their successes and – more often – their misfortunes.
How to register:
The PhD training program is open to all PhD candidates in the field of political history that are based in the Netherlands, Flanders or affiliated with the Zentrum für Niederlande-Studien in Münster. We explicitly welcome external PhDs too. In most instances, the Graduate School of your home university takes care of your registration as soon as you indicate you want to join the RSPH. If this is not the case, or if you have any further questions regarding your enrolment, please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the following information in your e-mail: • Your full name • Your home university • The title and a brief description of your PhD project • The names of your supervisor(s)
Work load, credits and certificates:
As a member of the RSPH PhD community, we assume you are willing to take full advantage of our training program. We highly recommend you follow all the tutorials and workshops on offer in year 1 and year 2 of your trajectory, given the structure of the program and the building up of competencies. This recommendation also goes for the seminars in year 3 of the training program, devoted to deepening your skills as well as to professional development. Participation in other RSPH events is optional (see schedule above). As standard, each training activity (tutorial, workshop or seminar) is awarded with 1 ECTS for preparation and active participation. Unless stated otherwise, these training activities consists of a 3–4-hour meeting with an open discussion based on the input and research interests of the participants. Active participation is considered self-evident. Each activity requires preparation in the form of reading literature, writing a preparatory paper of ca 750 words according to the assignment given. Often you are asked to prepare in advance for commenting on the papers of your peers. If you wish to earn more (or less) credits, a specific arrangement will be made in consultation with the director of studies of the RSPH. In case you wish to consider this, please send us a reasoned proposal via email@example.com. At the end of the program, each participant will receive a certificate, specifying the credits that have been obtained. In general, the school offers three types of certificates: • Basic (10 ECTS) • Regular (20 ECTS) • Advanced (30 ECTS)
In addition to our training program, PhDs are warmly invited to take part in other events organized by or in close cooperation with the RSPH, e.g. master classes, seminars and conferences. Stay informed of our activities by visiting our website or subscribing to our newsletter.
Louvain-La-Neuve, 31.05.2023 – 02.06.2023 Deadline: September 18, 2022
Reminder that we are looking for new editors of our newsletter! We urge anyone that wants to take part in and help to develop the potentialities of our network to get in touch. Besides taking care of our monthly newsletter, next months will also see us busy organising a new workshop for PhD candidates and young researchers in political history. If you are interested, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The international OPG-APH conference Political history today: Exploring New Themes was a great success. Over 100 participants were active in eight panels, two round tables, PhD candidates presented posters and several key notes speakers discussed urgent themes. The program is still available here.
A follow up has been announced as well. Please note the dates:
Prof. Carlotta Sorba will organize a conference in 2023 in Padua.
Prof. Norbert Götz will organize a conference in Stockholm in 2025 and in we will meet again in Padua, rof. Carlotta Sorba in 2024 we will meet in Stockholm (Norbert Götz) and in 2025 we will meet in Münster (Germany). Prof. Jacco Pekelder will organize a conference with a focus on political history and international relations.
Five years after successfully taking stock of the “State of the Art in the History of Politics” (The Hague, 2017), next Summer, the Association for Political History (APH) and the Dutch national Research School Political History (RSPH/OPG) organize a two-day follow-up conference in Amsterdam to revisit the field and explore new themes in the history of politics.
In this conference, we invite you to join us in a reflection on the concepts, methods, and sources for political history. What is it that we do when we study political history? What is the timeframe and the spatial dimension of histories of the political? What theories, concepts, and examples from the subdisciplines of history, the social and other sciences help us explain continuity and change in political history? How do old and new methods of inquiry and older and newer types of sources affect our work?
Another aim of the conference is to highlight new and urgent themes that have been introduced to the field over the last couple of years. These include new perspectives on the histories of decolonization, as well as the rise of the global in studies of the World Wars, the Cold War, the Sixties, Seventies, and the rise of neoliberalism from the 1980s onwards. Research projects on global activism, on climate change and the environment, poverty, or migration, and its impact on local, regional, national, and international politics seem to beg for attention too. Equally relevant are the new histories of democracy, freedom, and parliamentarianism, which have certainly helped us understand, and maybe even overcome, the challenges of populism and authoritarian leadership. A relevant question is therefore also the question what we have to contribute, not only to the academic debate on things political, but also to the political issues of our time and how can we try to impact today’s, and tomorrow’s, crucial societal debates.
These reflection will be triggered by three internationally reputed speakers and related roundtables, new themes will be staged in eight panels as well as in side events.
16.00 Opening, welcome and introduction to the conference by Jacco Pekelder (academic director Dutch Research School Political History and professor of Modern and Contemporary History of the Netherlands, Münster University), Henk te Velde (chair of the Association for Political History, and professor of Dutch History, Leyden University) and Ido de Haan (professor of Political History, Utrecht University)
16.15 How to study political history today? Democracy as embodied practice and national experience
Keynote by Hedwig Richter(professor of Modern and Contemporary History Universität der Bundeswehr München)
To analyze the crises of democracy in a more accurate way, it is important to look at the history of democracy. It is an “impure” history, a history comprising a disorderly conglomeration of concepts and practices that often contradicted each other. Theliberal democracy that emerged from this history, with human dignity at its centre, therefore turns out to be a patchwork, a structure struggling for balance.
16.45 The state of the art in political history: legacies, challenges, and opportunities
Roundtable with Liesbeth van de Grift (professor International History and the Environment, Utrecht University), Irène Herrmann(professor in Transnational History of Switzerland, Université de Genève, Giovanni Orsina (professor of Contemporary History at LUISS Guido Carli University, Rome), Anne-Isabelle Richard (assistant professor in History, Leyden University), Hedwig Richter and Ido de Haan (chair)
In this roundtable we will look back at, and look beyond, the crucial shift in our field of study, from ‘political history’ to ‘the history of politics’. What are outstanding or problematic examples of this reorientation in the study of things political? What do we understand better now? What is the most important question we need to address the coming years? Which concept, theory, method, technique, and/or source material do you suggest to grasp the newest, or most relevant issue to study in our discipline in the coming years?
18.15 Drinks and dinner
24 June 2022
9.00 Registration, coffee and tea
9.30 Opening, welcome and introduction to the conference by Jacco Pekelder(academic director Research School Political History, Münster University), introduction to the conference
9.40 How to write a long-term history of the political?
What modernists can learn from early modernists. A conversation with Judith Pollmann (professor of Early Modern Dutch History, Leyden University) moderated by Henk te Velde (Leyden University) about innovation, citizenship and the proximity of politics.
Panel 1: Drivers and defining moments of neoliberalization in Europe. Organizer: Naomi Woltring
Panel 2: Norm-setting, power and governance in colonial and political history of the Netherlands-Indonesian relationship 1750-1950. Organizers: Ronald Kroeze, Alicia Schrikker, Lauren Lauret
Panel 3: The rule of law: Rethinking the political history of law in European and global context. Organizers: Karin van Leeuwen, Brigitte Leucht
Panel 4: Popular Politics of the Environment: Societal Actors and Activists in International Organisations during the Second Half of the Twentieth Century. Organizers: Alessandra Schimmel, Paul Reef
Posters with presentations of research of PhD candidates and RMA students
The Inps and the Italian economic miracle: politics, economy, and cultures between 1958 and 1969 – Michele Santoro The establishment of the University of Antwerp (1954-2003) – Alexia Coussement A historical analysis of lithium governance in Latin America – Mario Parolari Digital Humanities Project in Collaboration with the NIOD institute -Anne de Klerk Cold War Developmentalism in the Periphery – the Case of Gilan 1960s-1970s – Misag Javadpour Hunting for Ambition – The Royal Hunt and the Representation of Power at the Court of Savoy – Bruno Farinelli Bridging Nationalisms: Italian Ideas of Transnational Solidarity Between the Processes of National Unification in Italy and Germany (1830-1871) – Stefano Lissi What did Europeans, in this case the French, learn about freedom and democracy from intellectuals who came from their overseas colonies? – Dominique Ankoné
Different actors’ claims to organizing land use and public health between 1861 and 1917 in two of Russia’s peripheries: ‘Eastern’ Bashkiria and ‘European’ Livland – Paul van Dijk Academic Biography of Statesman P.J. Oud – Boris van Haastrecht
Panel 5: Media&democracy: new concepts, sources and methodologies. Organizer: Betto van Waarden
Panel 6: Writing the Environment in Empires. Organizer: Paul van Dijk
Panel 7: Making sense of universities in contemporary history: exploring the prospects of interdisciplinarity. Organizers: Floris van Berckel Smit, Alexia Coussement
Panel 8: Unusual suspects: local actors and the microdynamics of political conflict. Organizers: Geraldien von Frijtag, Valeria Galimi, Roberta Biasillo
15.30 How to write a global history of politics?
Keynote by Lucy Riall (professor of History, European University Institute Florence) (plus online zoom)
Our conference venue is the Trippenhuis, home of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, in Amsterdam city center ( Kloveniersburgwal 29).
The conference is organized by the Dutch national Research School Political History. The RSPH/OPG is the national platform for political historians, who are working together to promote high-quality research and strengthen (inter)national cooperation. In additional, the OPG/RSPH provides first-rate training for PhD candidates and Research Master Students.
The OPG/RSPH is one of the founding members of the Association for Political History. The association aims to strengthen international cooperation in the field of education and research and organizes, amongst others, annual conferences.
Prof. Dr. Jacco Pekelder (chair), Dr. Marijke van Faassen, Prof. Dr. Ido de Haan, Dr. Carla Hoetink, Dr. Margit van der Steen (coordination), Prof. Dr. Henk te Velde.
Design logo: Tim Mäkelburg
Please note that we will organize the conference in line with Dutch corona regulations
Full conference fee incl. Thursday dinner: 75 euro
La Maddalena (Italy), 2–3 September 2022 Deadline: August 28, 2022
We are finding new newsletter editors!
Besides taking care of our monthly newsletter, next month will also see us busy organizing a new workshop for Ph.D. candidates and young researchers in political history. We encourage anyone that wants to take part in and help to develop the potentialities of our network, to get in touch here: email@example.com