Category Archives: Blog

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.

Organisation

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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The Making of the Democratic Party #phdthesis

When more than 150 years ago the Dutch newspaper Het Nieuws van de Dag (News of the Day) described the future of politics as “in darkness”, it warned its readers that “the bloody feuds of yore are coming again”.[1] What sounds like a line from a post-apocalyptic movie bears an interesting analogy on current discussions about the future of Western politics. Recently, scholars have painted an equally dark picture warning about the “hollowing of Western democracy” and identified a future of “post-democracy”.[2] In the center of these concerns is the ability of political parties to fulfill their function as a core institution of democracy. Scholars fear that decreasing membership numbers are a symptom of democratic decay. Parties will lose their ability to connect political elites and civil society, and, thereby, inevitably extend the void between rulers and the ruled.

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