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International APH Conference | 2020 | Call for Papers

Layers and Connections of the Political

11-13 June 2020 | Luiss-Guido Carli University, Rome

The Association for Political History warmly thanks the numerous scholars who have participated in the call for panels for the APH 2020 Conference “Layers and Connections of the Political” (11-13 June 2020 – LUISS Guido Carli University, Rome).

Call for Papers

The APH has been contacted by several young scholars asking for the possibility to deliver individual papers. In order to meet these demands, one more session has been added to the Conference, and the deadline for individual applications has been extended to March 31st. This call for papers is open to PhD students and scholars who have completed their PhD within the past five years. Applicants from all countries are welcome.

This session integrates the APH 2020 Conference “Layers and Connections of the Political” and is intended to offer young scholars the opportunity for interdisciplinary cross-fertilization with their peers and with senior scholars attending the APH 2020 conference. Proposals should consider, in a historical perspective, examples of how the multiple layers of the political have connected and interacted with each other during the last three centuries. The call is open to young scholars from all sub-disciplines of history who are interested in presenting scholarly papers on politics. Candidates from the disciplines of political sciences, sociology, psychology and philosophy are also welcome.


Proposals must be sent by the 31st of March 2020 to the email address of the APH 2020 Organization Committee ( and must include:

  • an abstract (200 words)
  • a short biographic note (100 words)

Proposals will be selected by mid-April 2020 and participation must be confirmed by April 30.

Conference fee

The individual participation fee is 50 euros for PhD students and young scholars belonging to departments attached to the Association for Political History, 100 euros for scholars who hold a PhD and do not belong to departments attached to the APH. The fee is to be paid via credit card to the LUISS School of Government and covers the participation in the conference, the social dinner on June 11 and the lunch on June 12. It does not include the accommodation, for which participants must provide autonomously.

Political History PhD Network | Workshop 2019 Florence | Programme

Identities and Politics throughout History

5th Workshop for PhD Candidates in Political History (second session)

17-18 October 2019
Sala del Torrino, Villa Salviati, Florence

Contact: Laura Borgese – email:


  • Carlos Antolín Rejón (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)
  • Ignacio García de Paso García (EUI)
  • Stefano Poggi (EUI)
  • Alessandra Vigo (Università di Padova)


Identities are powerful drives in human history. They build the understanding of the world of all human actors, and inevitably affect their actions. Both collective and individual identities are – now as ever – key features of all political activities. The creation and the control of identities are at the heart of all power relations, and as such they have been deeply investigated by human sciences. Indeed, political historians encounter the performative power of identities in most of their research. Nevertheless, they rarely find spaces to debate on identity issues and the tools needed to understand them. The main goal of the Florentine session of the 5th Workshop of the Political History PhD Network is to provide such space.

Since the cultural turn, the constructivist stance has been crucial in historiography. The seminal works of Benedict Anderson and Eric Hobsbawm have questioned ethnical and national identities, while E.P. Thompson with his The making of the English working class has inaugurated the investigation on the construction of class identities. In the meantime, gender studies have shown the cultural nature of gender identities. More recently, studies on personal identification have revealed the close relation between political power and the control of personal identities. In any case, it remains clear that it is not possible to conduct research on political history without questioning the identities used by both the historical actors and the historical observers as ourselves. 


Thursday, 17 October 

9:00-10:00             Registration and Welcome coffee

10:00-10:15            Welcome by Stefano Poggi and Ignacio Garcìa de Paso

Session 1: Reconfiguring Identities


McCann, Irish clerical communities in Paris and Rome 1770-1830

Braga, “Procura-se viúva de bons costumes”: Women widowhood, identity and property over the Plaquevent, from sexual politics to identity politics in France (1930-1970)

12:15-13:30           Lunch, Canteen

Session 2:              Militant Identities


Castillo, We, who produce, work and pay. The political radicalisation of the propertied classes in Spain and Portugal (1870-1915)

Albornoz, Fascism and Nationalism: The Transnational Construction of a Right-wing Militant in Argentina 50-60

Salo, Weekly newspaper create Italy new right wing identity 1950-1953

Priorielli, The nation in the construction of fascist and Falangist identity?

15:30-16:00          Coffee break, Cloister

16:00-17:00          Keynote speech, Jenny HESTERMANN – Title TBA

19:45                     Dinner

Friday, 18 October

Session 3: Identities and National Building


Avalli, Constructing Italian racial identity: the Etruscan question 20-30

Casales, Reframing Whiteness. The Symbolic Imaginary of Miscegenation in Fascist Italy

Darksen, Disability, Nation-Building and Indigenous Identity in Postcolonial Greenland 1981

Priorielli, Title tba

11:00-11:30            Coffee break, Cloister

Session 4: Diplomacy and Identities


Ciappi, Think tanks, Atlantism, and the construction of Western World identity

Ponte e Sousa, Portuguese foreign policy and change in national identity: Europe and the transition to democracy

Ennas, Ottoman Diplomats characterising Italian populations during the Risorgimento (1848-1870)

Slingerland, Professional and political collective identities show their limitations when patients’ personal identity breaks the gridlock flying European heart patients to the US

13:30-15:00           Lunch

15:00-16:15           Keynote speech by Lucy Riall

16:15-17:00           Concluding Session: The Future of the Political History PhD Network

17:00                     Cocktail

International APH Conference | 2020 | Call for Panels

Layers and Connections of the Political

11-13 June 2020 | Luiss-Guido Carli University, Rome

Politics has changed a lot, in the last half-century – and so has political history. The boundaries of the political have been redrawn. The large social and political bodies of the mid-twentieth century have grown weaker or have dissolved. Public institutions have become both less insulated from society and less effective in controlling and guiding it. Therefore, defining what is political has become more difficult. Political historians have confronted this challenge, and in the process have gained a deeper understanding of their object of study, have enlarged their scope and refined their methodologies, and have entered into closer dialogue with the “other” histories and the social sciences.

The fragmentation of the political and the increasing uncertainty of its boundaries have made political historians more acutely aware that politics does not exist only “high up” and on the macro level, but reaches deep into private lives, shapes people’s identities and perceptions, interferes with their thoughts and emotions, regulates and modifies their behaviour. Actions and reactions performed on the micro level can in turn not only determine how initiatives from the top are received, reinterpreted and remoulded, but also condition, constrain and change the institutions and subjects that act on the macro level.

Call for Panels

For its 2020 conference (11-13 June 2020 – Luiss-Guido Carli University, Rome), the Association for Political History invites proposals for panels that consider, in a historical perspective, examples of how the multiple layers of the political have connected and interacted with each other during the last three centuries. We welcome senior researchers, but also encourage PhD candidates to submit proposals and participate in the conference.


Proposals must be sent by the 31st of January 2020 to the email address of the APH 2020 Organization Committee ( and must include:

  • the description of the panel (1000 words maximum)
  • the abstracts of the individual papers (200 words each)
  • the short biographic notes of the participants (100 words each)

Panels will be composed of maximum of four participants and one discussant

Selection procedure & participation

Panels will be selected by the end of February 2020 and participation must be confirmed by March 15. The deadline for registration and fees is March 31. The individual participation fee is 100 euros for senior scholars and 50 euros for PhD students and scholars belonging to departments attached to the Association for Political History. The fee is to be paid via credit card to the Luiss School of Government. Beside participation in the conference, the fee covers the social dinner on the evening of June 11 and the lunch on June 12.It does not include the accommodation, for which participants must provide autonomously.

Political History PhD Network | Workshop 2019 Report (Jyväskylä)

’Political’ in Political History – Meaning and Understanding of Politics

Workshop Political History PhD Network.
17-19 June 2019, University of Jyväskylä, Finland.


This three-day workshop was an initiative of the Political History PhD Network. It was organized by Zachris Haaparinne, Risto-Matti Matero, Jari Parkkinen, Juho Saksholm, and Joonas Tammela (University of Jyväskylä).

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Political History PhD Network | Workshop 2018 Report

The Pursuit of Legitimacy. Power and its Manifestations in Political History
25-26 October 2018, Leiden University, the Netherlands

In the 4th annual workshop of the Political History PhD Network, PhD students from all over Europe and from Australia(!) presented their work on the role of political legitimacy in history. A keynote lecture on 19th-century mass petitioning was given by dr. Maartje Janse. The workshop took place on 25-26 October 2018 at Leiden University, the Netherlands.

PHPN Workshop 2018

International PhD Conference | 2019

History in the Light of Brexit | 5-7 June 2019 | London, United Kingdom

On 5-7 June 2019 the Seventh International PhD Conference in Political History took place in London United Kingdom.

Conference Report

By Talita Ilacqua, Tom Kelsey and Richard Vinen

There have been, and will be, numerous conferences about the causes and consequences of Britain’s departure from the European Union. Our conference was not one of them. Rather, we thought about history in light of Brexit as we explored the questions that Brexit poses for how historians should think about the modern political history of Europe and beyond.

The group photograph for the Annual Conference of the Association for Political History. We discussed the work of graduate students from across Europe under the theme of history in light of Brexit. Thanks to King's College Contemporary British History, King’s College Department of Political Economy, History of Parliament and The Strand Group for supporting us.
The group photograph for the Annual Conference of the Association for Political History. We discussed the work of graduate students from across Europe under the theme of history in light of Brexit. Thanks to King’s College Contemporary British History, King’s College Department of Political Economy, History of Parliament and The Strand Group for supporting us.

Our event was the Annual Conference of the Association of Political History, which brings together PhD students from universities across Europe to discuss their work and ideas. The conference was also kindly supported by King’s Contemporary British History, King’s Department of Political Economy, the Strand Group and the History of Parliament Trust.

This conference report summarises the plenary discussions and then lists the papers of the graduate students who attended.  

Opening round table

The conference began with a round-table on history in light of Brexit with Sir Stephen Wall, Professor Helen Parr and Professor Robert Tombs.

Wall was Private Secretary to the Prime Minister between 1991 and 1993, responsible for foreign policy and defence issues; he was sent as Ambassador to Portugal from 1993 to 1995 and then became the Permanent Representative to the European Union. He returned to London in 2000, and from then until 2004, he was in charge of the Cabinet Office’s European Secretariat and also EU adviser to Tony Blair. He also authored The Official History of Britain and the European Community, Vol. II (Routledge, 2012).

Wall argued that Britain, an island nation, was obviously geographical apart from Continental Europe, which had a profound psychological impact. In the immediate post-war period, Britain also had the Commonwealth, a set of overseas relations different in scale to any other European power.

In addition, he reminded us that Britain’s democratic institutions had not been destroyed or delegitimised during WW2. He pointed to the distinctiveness of sovereignty resting in Parliament, as opposed to the people.

APH 2019 Brexit
The round table on ‘History in Light of Brexit’ at the start of the APH conference.

However, by 1961, it was clear that this post-war imperial strategy had failed. Britain under the Conservatives then tried to enter Europe as a reluctant partner. The Wilson government would come to the same view by the late 1960s.

Professor Helen Parr is perhaps now best known as a military historian, for her award-winning work Our Boys (Penguin, 2018). Yet, she first worked on the post-war politics of Britain and Europe. Her first book being Britain’s Policy Towards the European Community, 1964-1967 (Routledge, 2005).

Parr began with the observation that she lives in Stoke-on-Trent, a place where the Guardian always sends journalists to understand the views of working-class Brexiteers (thus missing out the vast swathes of middle-class Home County Brexit voters).

She argued that the referendum marked a decisive turning point in Britain’s foreign policy, which had been bound up with Europe for decades. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the line among officials was that being in Europe was the only way to preserve British power aboard.

Europe was never such a central political issue. Even for the Eurosceptic Labour left, the aim was socialism, not merely leaving Europe. Farage, of course, changed this. He made Brexit more of the end, rather than the means.

Parr highlighted the high degree of contingency in the EU referendum. Seeing it as a historical accident, a Prime Minister’s tactical misstep. Without austerity, the political failure in Eurozone and the migrant crisis, it is likely that Remain would have won.

Parr also suggested that politics will probably not return to normal. Historians may well look back upon our times as a period of profound change: when the major political parties broke up, when the union was destroyed and when Britain’s power in the world went into a major decline.

The final speaker was Professor Robert Tombs, a historian of France, Britain and Europe. His latest book was The English and their History (Penguin, 2015). More generally, he is perhaps the most notable Brexiteer within the historical profession. For instance, he is the force behind briefings4brexit.

Professor Tombs began with the observation that Europe had been made, but Europeans had not. Regardless of the propaganda, few citizens of Europe felt like Europeans. The European Union created its own sense of inevitability, but Brexit exposed the hollowness of this.

Tombs stressed how political turmoil was not just a problem in contemporary Britain. In fact, he argued that there are far more major political problems across Europe than Brexit. For instance, a dozen people had died in France as a result of the ‘gilets jaunes’ protests. Indeed, Tombs stressed how Brexit is not a political crisis on the scale of the 1930s, 1970s or 1980s. Rather, Brexit is essentially a problem of political leadership, caused by the ruling elite ignoring the mandate of the people.

The issue with Europe is that power operates horizontally, not vertically. Drawing on Wolfgang Streeck, Tombs argued that the elite who runs the EU remains powerful through legitimising their influence via other European elites, as opposed to gaining the consent of the people.

Was Brexit inevitable? Tombs suggested that history does not determine things, but implied that undemocratic, unaccountable organisations usually do eventually break down.

In the questions and answers, it was asked whether the European Union was a product of the Cold War, delegitimatized by its ending. Parr agreed.

Some members of the panel described the referendum as weirdly ‘un-English’ or ‘un-British’ due to its ‘utopian’ flavour. Richard Johnson, a lecturer at Lancaster University and a prominent Lexiteer, questioned the framing of ‘fact vs utopia’, suggesting rather that the problem was those who thought economically were squaring off against those who thought in terms of democracy.

Professor Vinen confessed that recent events made him more ‘nostalgic’ for the ‘managed democracies’ of the post-war years. They may have been iniquitous at times, but they were more stable and less dangerous. One of the panel asked him whether he believed in democracy. He said: ‘No’.

It was at this moment, we wrapped things up and moved to our reception in Parliament.

Careers advice

On Thursday afternoon, we had a careers advice session led by Dr. Dorothée Boulanger, a lecturer at the University of Oxford; Dr. Kit Kowol, an Early Career Development Fellow in Modern British History at King’s College London and Dr. Ben Taylor, who completed his PhD at King’s before moving on to work in the policy world, first at the House of Lord and now in the Cabinet Office.

It was stressed that the value and, indeed, scarcity of PhDs was much higher in the non-academic world. Ben Taylor said a three-month, AHRC-funded placement in Parliament, which he did whilst he was studying, enabled his post-PhD career in the policy world. As it happens, Taylor now actually works for the Open Innovation Team, which helps Whitehall departments generate analysis and ideas by deepening collaboration with academics. These placements include PhD students, both those in Britain and the EU.  Here’s a link to some example placements.

In terms of the academic job market, Dorothée Boulanger and Kit Kowol stressed the importance of luck, perseverance and networking, plus having strategies for particular institutions, as different history departments will require different skills.

Boulanger explained how she wished she had spent more time writing journal articles and less time going to conferences. (Thankfully none of our attendees left the room at this point to get on with that paper they were working on…) She also said that it was vital to come across not only as an excellent researcher in the job interview process, but also a good colleague. Being a team player is something departments are looking for!

Kowol warned against investing all of your self-worth into the PhD, saying how it is important to remember that it is just a steppingstone. Seeing it as a personal masterpiece will make finishing much harder. Moreover, you shouldn’t feel like a failure as a person if something PhD-related doesn’t go as planned along the way. He then underlined the importance of finding (not just expecting to find) a good group of supportive friends around you in the academy at a similar stage in their careers. He also stressed the importance of keeping the focus on the big intellectual questions that mark you out.

Ed Balls on Britain and the European Question 

Later that evening, we attended an event at the Guildhall, where the former Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Ed Balls reflected on the relationship between Britain and the EU in conversation with Jon Davis, who leads the Strand Group at King’s College London.

Balls’ central claim was that New Labour was simply a continuation of the European policy of their predecessors. Indeed, in this respect, Balls suggested that Thatcher, Major, Blair and Brown could all be lumped together.

Balls argued that Britain was different from the other nations of the EU. There was an expectation that Britain would be difficult all negotiations, a built-in assumption that Britain’s national interest did not fit with that of other member states.

Balls also suggested that if Britain had joined the Euro, they would have crashed out of the EU sooner, as this would have been the only way to manage the fall-out of the Eurozone crisis. He also stressed the importance of the Pound to British national identity.

According to Balls, Blair’s championing of the EU’s enlargement (see this map for details) was partly to placate the Foreign Office, who were still reeling from the fact that Britain had not joined the Euro.

In a very striking comment, Balls described it as “a major intellectual failure” of the Blair years not to foresee how important an issue immigrant would become as a result of the EU’s enlargement into Eastern Europe.

The former Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Ed Balls reflected on Britain's relationship with Europe.
The former Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Ed Balls reflected on Britain’s relationship with Europe.

Balls argued that when the Treaty of Rome was signed, it was assumed that freedom of movement would be for elites, not those seeking work. Speaking as a “pro-European”, Balls suggested that freedom of movement was not sustainable when the EU contained countries of vastly different incomes.

In terms of Britain’s future, Balls thought the nation was in a “catastrophically bad place”. He saw the current impasse lasting for another two or three year because Parliament cannot not agree on a deal, nor can MPs accept no deal. Moreover, given how unstable British politics is at the moment, no Prime Minister would risk a general election. Balls accepted that he could be proven wrong on this last part of his argument. Interestingly, he also ruled out support for a second referendum, suggesting that this would be “political dynamite”.

All in all, Balls cast himself and New Labour more generally as reluctant Europeans. It will be interesting to see whether, in a few decades or so, the archives themselves will agree with this interpretation of such an important part of our recent history.

Englishness and Brexit: Professor Patrick Wright in conversation with Professor David Edgerton

On Friday, the conference concluded with an enormously interesting, rich and complex discussion, with Professor Patrick Wright in conversation with Professor David Edgerton on Englishness and Brexit.

Professor Edgerton began by suggesting that there are not supposed to be any intellectuals in Britain. Yet, Wright not only is one, but also studies them. See, for instance, Wright’s BBC Radio 4 series ‘The English Fix’.

Professor Wright introduced his latest project about the Isle of Sheppey, a place he is using to study what others might call the ‘left behind’. Wright himself loathes this phrase. It suggests a passivity, as those it seeks to describe appreciate. One islander argued he was a ‘stayed behind’.

The conversation then moved onto Nigel Farage, who Wright sees as a ‘Little Englander’ – a term that had always been used as an insult, but by the late nineteenth century had also been reappropriated by those it sought to offend.

Figures like G. K. Chesterton called themselves as ‘Little Englanders’, defenders of the true England, which was being encroached upon by the state and by capitalism. Wright observed and perhaps warned how all organicist thinking contained this deep sense of a looming threat.

For Farage the encroaching force has, of course, become the European Union. Like Farage, Chesterton also linked Englishness to beer, as he defended the pub against the teetotallers in the Liberal and Labour parties.

Wright observed the deep chauvinism within the ‘Little England’ philosophy. While women had been crucial supporters of its leading figures, rarely were women themselves the leaders.

After taking questions from the audience, Professor Edgerton wound up the conversation, thanking Patrick for his reflections on Brexit and Englishness.

Graduate speakers

Session 1: Identifying ‘Europeanness’
Chair: Dr. Margit van der Steen – Research School Political History, Onderzoekschool Politieke Geschiedenis
Discussant: Pasi Ihalainen – University of Jyväskylä

  • Stuart Smedley – King’s College London – The Historical Will of the People: the value of public opinion polls and surveys for contemporary political historians after Brexit
  • Jean-Francois Delangre – University of Geneva – “I Beg Your Pardon, But WE Suffered The Most!”: contested memories and victimhood competition in the EU, the Baltic States from restauration of their independences until present day
  • Martin Johansson – Södertörn University – Competing Neighbours, and their Genders: media narratives on Norden as imagined region at the 1936 Olympic Winter Games

Session 2: Battling identities
Chair: Professor Giovanni Orsina – LUISS Guido Carli University
Discussant: Professor Henk te Velde – Leiden University

  • Talitha Ilacqua – King’s College London – ‘Il n’y a plus de Pyrénées’?: border disputes and identities in the French Basque Country (1785-1868)
  • Miel Groten – Vrije Universiteit – Glasgow’s New Town Hall: imperialism and civic pride, 1877-1889
  • Wiivi-Maria Jouttijarvi – University of Jyväskylä – National Identity In and After a Multinational Imperium: the case of Estonia

Session 3: Comparative histories
Chair: Dr. Jussi Kurunmaki – Södertörn University
Discussant: Professor Irène Herrmann – Université de Genève

  • Tom Kelsey – King’s College London – ‘High technology’ in post-war Britain and France
  • Lauri Niemisto – University of Jyväskylä – Violent and Illegitimate Protest: visual representations of British suffragettes’ and German socialists’ campaigns for franchise reform in national cartoons, 1905 – 1914
  • Risto-Matti Matero – University of Jyväskylä, Finland – From Companionship to Green Consumerism: a case study of a major conceptual change in German greens’ beliefs regarding human nature between 1980 and 2002

Session 4: The military, society and exceptionalism
Chair: Dr. Marnix Beyen – University of Antwerp
Discussant: Professor Richard Vinen – King’s College London

  • George Evans – King’s College London – Militarism, British Exceptionalism and Anglo-Irish Officers
  • Giulia L. Melideo – LUISS Guido Carli University – The ‘Associated’ Country: Greece and the EEC during the military regime (1967-1974)

Session 5: Histories beyond Europe
Chair: Professor Marc Lazar – Sciences Po
Discussant: Professor Pertti Ahonen – University of Jyväskylä

  • Lasse Lassen – Universität Bielefeld – The Tricontinental Conference of Havana: Cuba creating the internationalist isle
  • François Courvoisier – University of Geneva – From Exceptionalism to Universalism: the conflictual globalization of human rights, the case of the African Charter for Human and Peoples’ Rights
  • Björn Reynir Halldórsson – University of Iceland – Within or Without Europe: crises of two island states in the Atlantic since 2008