Category Archives: Blog

Another crisis of the open society? Historical perspectives on the politics of the COVID 19 pandemic

APH-SoG webinar, 17 September 2020 (13.00-14.45 CET)

Webinar and debate organized by the Association for Political History (APH) and the LUISS School of Government (SoG) with Beatrice de Graaf (Utrecht University), Irène Herrmann (University of Geneva) and Richard Vinen (King’s College London).

The COVID 19 pandemic constitutes a challenge for political history and calls into question politics, institutions, and the essential values of the open society. Such a transcendental phenomenon resulted in extraordinary emergency conditions, dividing governments, polarizing public opinion, destabilizing the economy, and undermining the principles of democracy, free market, and cooperation between countries. In a global context, where the future seems more uncertain than ever, history tells us how these emergency situations change the relationships between citizens and authorities, redefine state dimensions, ideologies, and individual freedoms (even in countries with solid democratic traditions), and determine another crisis of the open society.

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“Nutzen und Nachteil” revisited: what’s the use of Applied History?

Webinar and debate on the opening of the new academic year of the Research School Political History (the Netherlands) with Ido de Haan, Irène Herrmann, Harm Kaal, Jelle van Lottum and Catrien Santing.

25 September 2020, 3.00-4.15 PM

Registration: email before 23 September to
and you will receive the Zoom link.
Participation is free of charge

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Democracy in the EU: the European ideal as a straitjacket? #phdthesis

It is commonplace in politics, media and academia to portray the European Union (EU) as a technocracy, run by a faceless elite of rule-obsessed busybodies. Scholars and journalists have shown time and again that this image does not account for the member states, for no European laws get passed without them. Yet, the image of the EU as an undemocratic organisation persists, which also raises the question where this leaves the EU’s ‘democratic’ institutions, such as the European Parliament. Why have the institutions which represent popular interests at the European level not been able to fundamentally challenge the technocratic nature of the EU?

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Piracy, Security and the Remaking of the Mediterranean #phdthesis

Our present predicament of omnipresent uncertainty, sudden twists of fate and the sense that a serious menace looms somewhere beyond our reach make it all the more understandable what seafaring people and coastal communities fear most about piracy – both in the present and the past. Like a foreign disease that washes upon the beach, piracy has been such a threatening aspect of life at sea because it appears out of nowhere, unchecked by rules on violence or raiding. A ship appears on the horizon, seemingly friendly at first, but then flags change and a chase on the vast expanses of the high seas begins. In the nineteenth century, piracy on the Mediterranean Sea was, in fact, even considered by some to be a type of plague that had to be fought with unprecedented security measures. As such, the historical repression of piracy touches upon enduringly relevant topics of security, violence, law and the dynamics of international inclusion and exclusion. My dissertation on the nineteenth-century fight against Mediterranean piracy, which I recently defended at Utrecht University, uncovers the dynamics of security during a pivotal moment in history and shows how piracy repression helped remake the Mediterranean into a space of European imperial expansion.

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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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Creating the Revolutionary Heroines #phdthesis

Representing revolutionary terrorists as heroes and martyrs was a typical feature of the mythology of the Russian revolutionary underground at the beginning of the 20th century. This mythology described Underground Russia, the world of the revolutionaries, as an ideal country inhabited by ideal people. The purpose of that epos was to represent the revolutionary struggle, and individual revolutionaries in such a way that they would gain sympathy from the wider public and become role models for other revolutionary fighters. Sympathetic representations of women who committed political violence seem to be especially shocking in the context of Russia at the beginning of the 20th century, since female violent behavior contradicted the existing gender order.

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