Category Archives: Blog

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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Global Perspectives: a new interdisciplinary journal on global questions

University of California Press launches a new journal called Global Perspectives. It is interdisciplinary and at the same time endorses disciplinary roots and routes to tackle larger global questions. For political historians the journal is an opportunity to publish with a leading press, to reach a large, global readership and to make their voices heard by colleagues not only from other countries, but other disciplines as well. Yet interdisciplinary academic writing and thinking, for Global Perspectives, is not a dogma to be realised in each article or contribution, but rather defined by mutual respect and interest, seen as various ways of addressing shared questions. 

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The Dark Side of the Belle Époque #researchproject #padova

“The Dark Side of the Belle Époque. Political Violence and Armed Associations in Europe before the First World War” is a comparative historical project at the University of Padova and funded by the European Research Council (ERC-Starting Grant Scheme 2015).

The project investigates the role played by militias, paramilitary movements, armed organisations, and vigilante groups before the First World War (from the late 19th century to 1914). It takes into consideration the role, impact, features of armed associations in France, Italy, the United Kingdom, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the German Reich in order to understand to what extent organised political violence permeated European societies and represented a mass transnational experience in an era – the so-called Belle Époque – which is generally seen as characterised by peace and progress. Actually, the Europe of the so-called Belle Époque was already a continent in which the practice of violence was a daily experience for thousands of civilians.

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Writing politics at Aarhus University #scholarship

“Big news! It is confirmed: We’re on strike in April!” The lovely peace and quietness of the 6th floor’s left wing is abruptly disturbed. For a few weeks now, rumors about Aarhus University being included in the nation-wide strike of the public service workers have been a daily occurrence. With talks between the government and the union(s) deadlocked, the country is now preparing for a major historical event. Apparently, Denmark is not only famous for its ‘hygge’ and its gender-friendly policies: striking turns out to be serious business, too. The stop to work should last not one day or two, but an entire MONTH. In response, the Agency for the Modernisation of Public Administration has issued a lockout notice which applies to the majority of Aarhus University’s employees. In the event of a strike/lockout, my supervising professor here in Aarhus, Hagen Schulz-Forberg, will no longer be allowed to enter the building. But more surprisingly, it could be that even Teresa and I, visiting PhD scholars with no strings attached to Denmark for this matter, will not be able to reach the office. Will what started as dream scholarship turn into a nightmare?

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