International PhD Conference | 2017

Fifth International APH PhD Conference | 20-22 June 2017 | Jyväskylä, Finland

On 20-22 June 2017 the Fifth International PhD Conference in Political History took place in Jyväskylä, Finland.

The conference was preceded on 18–20 June 2017 by the workshop “Parliaments, the Executive and Foreign Policy in Comparative and Transnational Perspectives”, organised by the Academy of Finland Project Supra- and Transnational Foreign Policy versus National Parliamentary Government, 1914–2014 as its final conference.

Conference report

by Juho Saksholm, Jarmo Taskinen & Pasi Ihalainen

After last year’s conference at Aarhus University, Denmark, The 5th Annual PhD Conference of the Association for Political History was hosted by the Department of History and Ethnology of University of Jyväskylä in Central Finland. Over 40 PhD students and senior members from 19 different universities from all over Europe participated in lively discussions on subjects such as parliamentary representation, state-building, ethnicity, welfare, and social control. The sessions focused on commenting the papers presented by PhD students, thus providing a unique opportunity for receiving comments and feedback from an international panel of experts on political history.

Participants of the 5th APH International PhD Conference on the stairs of Historica, Department of History and Ethnology, University of Jyväskylä, Finland, on 22 June 2017. Photo by Ville Häkkinen.

Several APH Board members contributed to the preceding workshop on parliaments, the executive and foreign policy in long-term European history as speakers and/or commentators. The workshop was organised by the Academy of Finland Project “Supra- and Transnational Foreign Policy versus National Parliamentary Government, 1914-2014” which also funded the travels of the participants. Helander Foundation and Wihuri Foundation also kindly provided complementary funding for the APH Conference. The conference was organised by Prof. Pasi Ihalainen in cooperation with a team of doctoral students and postdoc researchers who have previously attended APH Conferences or work in his project: Zachris Haaparinne, Dr. Antero Holmila, Dr. Teemu Häkkinen, Ville Häkkinen, Dr. Miina Kaarkoski, Elina Kauppinen, Jukka Nissinen, Juho Saksholm, and Jarmo Taskinen.

A roundtable debate, entitled Methods for analysing institutions, action and discourse in political history opened the conference. First, Prof. Hagen Schulz-Forberg (Aarhus university) introduced a methodological volume to be published by Palgrave, entitled Political History in the 21st Century. Schulz-Forberg described the collection as “an identity card of the organization” and of new political history in general. Then Taina Saarinen from the Centre of Applied Language Studies (University of Jyväskylä) and Prof. Pasi Ihalainen (University of Jyväskylä) introduced methodological tools and theoretical concepts borrowed from discourse studies, such as multi-sitedness and nexus, that are also applicable to the study of political history from the point of view of discourse. Prof. Henk te Velde (University of Leiden) emphasized the role of the cultural and linguistic in political history. According to him, political history as such is not a method but should rather tolerate a wide array of methodological approaches rising from different understandings of the concept of political. Prof. Richard Vinen (King’s College London), a self-described “naive UK empiricist”, used an intriguing example from the Thatcher Foundation Archives to exemplify the material connotations of archival research. The example also poignantly demonstrated the problem of authorship in modern political documents and discourses.

Prof. Pauli Kettunen (University of Helsinki), a commentator of the roundtable, reflected the earlier discussion by offering additional definitions of multi-sitedness as a temporal and sometimes simultaneous phenomena. Prof. Kettunen also emphasized the performative aspects offered by anthropological theory as an example for new endeavours for political historians, as well as the need to study both the discursive and non-discursive elements of politics side by side. Prof. Pasi Ihalainen agreed, pointing out that the study of performative aspects, for instance, is limited by available sources but deserves attention whenever information on them is available. Furthermore, institutions are also constantly constructed, maintained and potentially redefined through discourse. Prof. Schulz-Forberg proposed the fundamental question whether going into an archive should be considered a method, which provoked an intensive debate. Prof. te Velde underlined the importance of this question: the archive does shape your study and is thus an essential context that every scholar should reflect as part of research. Prof. Mark Gilbert (Johns Hopkins Bologna) for his part emphasized the importance of “random incidents” as potentially important part of studying historical sources. Prof. Kettunen reflected further on Gilbert’s comments by suggesting that archives are indeed traces of past actions, and suggested that sometimes interpretations may miss the essence of these past actions. In his comment, Prof. Marc Lazar (Sciences Po, Paris) emphasized the analyses of actions, as they are central for politics.

After the roundtable, participating PhD students and senior scholars proceeded to discussions in parallel sessions, with each session consisting of two presentations by students, followed by comments first by another student, then a senior scholar and finally by the other members of the session. These sessions were titled Representation in parliamentary systems; Interned, expelled, exiled; Nationalism and state building; Ethnicity, identities and historical narratives; Welfare and social control; Transnational socialism; Reformers and revolutionaries; Postwar polities; European integration; and Social movements in the sixties.These titles, as well as the lively debates present in the sessions, highlight the versatility of issues studied at the member universities of the Association for Political History.

Two keynote lectures were also part of the programme of the second day. Prof. Pauli Kettunen (University of Helsinki) introduced the audience to his work on the conceptual history of the Nordic welfare state model. Kettunen emphasized the ambiguity and contested nature of the welfare state model, starting with the key concept itself. Prof. Kettunen also pointed at a tendency to methodological nationalism in welfare state research that a transnational or comparative approach can try to challenge. In the other keynote lecture, Prof. Pertti Ahonen (University of Jyväskylä) offered his insights to the transnational history of post-war Europe, especially on the possibilities of analyzing post-war developments through a perspective of a short, transnational post-war “moment” that would bring in focus the plethora of visions on future present during this crucial moment of change. Such an approach, for instance, may challenge the simplifying tendency of national perspectives. After the keynote lectures, the participants of the conference took part in a Midsummer cruise onboard steamship S/S Suomi that has been sailing on Lake Päijänne since its maiden voyage in 1906.

In the final session of the conference, an experimental form of 5-minute interventions on practical skills beneficial for PhD students discussed by experienced political historians was applied. Open, sincere, and candid commentaries by senior scholars inspired a lively discussion on these matters. Chaired by Prof. Ido de Haan (University of Utrecht), the commentaries on research as social experience included issues such as how to get funded in the first place (Prof. Schulz-Forberg), how to widen your methodological expertise (Prof. Thomas Welskopp, University of Bielefeld), how to network successfully (Prof. Irène Herrmann, University of Geneva), how to publish and have scholarly impact (Prof. Richard Vinen) and finally, how to make an international career and what kinds of challenges are involved in it (Prof. Pertti Ahonen). A debate followed each of these commentaries, with incisive comments from participating PhD students as well. The discussion focused especially on the changing academic world where international and interdisciplinary relations have played more important role for careers than ever before. Students were heartened to make contact with scholars abroad and to build networks, to participate in international PhD programmes, projects and conferences, and to learn about the conventions of publishing, especially for international audiences. In this regard, both the seniors and the juniors were of one mind that gatherings like the APH Conferences have created possibilities for participating universities, professors and students for efficient networking, showing interest in each other’s work and proceeding to further cooperation. Current and previous conferences have established new fruitful acquaintances between people, inspired new ideas, helped PhD-students with their work and also led to new transnational research projects and publications. As an example, the first volume of the Palgrave book series entitled Organizing Democracy: Reflections on the Rise of Political Organizations was launched.

A garden party, hosted by Prof. Pasi Ihalainen, concluded the conference and offered the participants a glimpse of Finnish Midsummer. Informal discussions flourished, offering yet another opportunity for acquainting PhD students and senior scholars to the circumstances and practices of academic work in the field political history in different European contexts.

Conference programme

Tuesday 20 June 2017

17.00 Registration and welcome coffee/tea (Historica 3rd floor lobby)

18.00 Opening of the APH Conference (H320)

18.15 Methods for analysing institutions, action and discourse in political history

Pasi Ihalainen (chair), Taina Saarinen (Jyväskylä), Hagen Schulz-Forberg (Aarhus), Willibald Steinmetz (Bielefeld), Richard Vinen (King’s College London), Henk te Velde (Leiden), Pauli Kettunen (Helsinki, discussant)

The round table carries on and deepens the theme “Political and Intellectual History: Intellectual History as Political History” from the Aarhus Conference and consists of contributors to the Palgrave volume Political History in the 21st Century.

19.45–21.30 Reception (H306 and 3rd floor lobby)

Wednesday 21 June 2017

9.00 Parallel paper sessions I

Representation in Parliamentary Systems (H105) | Chair: Pasi Ihalainen

  • Zachris Haaparinne, University of Jyväskylä: ‘Political Agency and Representative Claims in 18th Century British Petitions’
  • Leonard van ‘t Hul, University of Amsterdam: ‘Not Dead but Buried Alive: Political Deliberation on the Rearranging of the State-Religion Interlocution in the Netherlands, 1946-2009’

Interned, Expelled, Exiled (H306) | Chair: Pertti Ahonen

  • Pavol Jakubec, University of Gothenburg: ‘Diplomacy Out-of-Place: London as s Site of European Politics, 1938-1945’
  • Marieke Oprel, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam: ‘Germans as Enemy Citizens’

10.30 Coffee (1st floor lobby)

11.00 Parallel paper sessions II

Ethnicity, Identities and Historical Narratives (H105) | Chair: Ido de Haan

  • Zoé Grumberg, Sciences Po: ‘A Question of Narrative: Writing the History of Jewish-Communist Post-War Life in Paris in the Light of the Interwar Period and the War’
  • Ghulam Hussain, University of Bielefeld: ‘Caste Politics & Anti-Caste Dalit Assertions in Pakistan’

Nationalism and State-Building (H306) | Chair: Marc Lazar

  • Joonas Tammela, University of Jyväskylä: ‘The Construction of Patriotic Identities in Swedish and Finnish Local Sermons in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Century’
  • Alessandro Capone, Sciences Po & Scuola Normale Superiore: ‘French Intervention and State-Building in Rome: Legal and Military Reforms in the Papal States, 1849-1864’

12.30 Lunch (Restaurant Tilia)

13.30 Parallel paper sessions III

Welfare and Social Control (H105) | Chair: Norbert Götz

  • Sandrine Mauline, University of Geneva/Haute École de santé Vaud: ‘The Rehabilitation of Administrative Inmates and Foster Children: Historical Perspectives on the Politics of Victimhood in Switzerland’
  • Leon van Damme, Radboud University: ‘Looking for a New Equilibrium: A Parliamentary History of the Dutch Social Security System, 1980-2014’

Transnational socialism (H306) | Chair: Irène Herrmann

  • Teresa Malice, University of Bologna/University of Bielefeld: ‘Bottom-up across the Iron Curtain: Everyday Local Entanglements Between Italy and the GDR in the 1960s and 1970s – And Their Methodological Challenges’
  • Luciano Fazio, LUISS Guido Carli: ‘The Socialist International and Latin American in the 1980s: Its Agents and Main Actors’

15.00 Coffee (3rd floor lobby)

15.30–17.30 Keynote lectures (H320)

  • Pauli Kettunen, University of Helsinki: ‘Conceptual history as a transnational approach to the national welfare state’
  • Pertti Ahonen, University of Jyväskylä: ‘Forced migration, the “postwar” and transnational history in 20th century Europe’

18.00–21.00 Dinner cruise on Lake Päijänne on board S/S Suomi (1906)

Thursday 22 June 2017

9.00 Parallel paper sessions IV

Reformers and revolutionaries (H105) | Chair: Simo Mikkonen

  • Nadezda Petrusenko, Södertörn University: ‘Writing a Revolutionary Life: Representations of the Female Terrorist from the Beginning of the 20th Century within the Mythology of the Russian Revolutionary Underground’
  • Josefin Hägglund, Södertörn University: ‘Does a Political Party That Promotes Democracy Have to Be Democractic in Itself? And What Does Democracy, in This Sense, Mean?’

Postwar polities (H306) | Chair: Thomas Welskopp

  • Giacomo Canepa, Sciences Po: ‘Veterans, Social Policies and Citizenship in France and Italy after the Second World War’
  • Eirik Wig Sundvall, University of Agder: ‘Haakon Lie and the Transmission of Anti-Totalitarian Ideas to Norway, 1945-1950’

10.30 Coffee (1st floor lobby)

11.00 Parallel paper sessions V

European integration (H105) | Chair: Henk te Velde

  • Jarmo Taskinen, University of Jyväskylä: ‘Between Economics, Politics and European Integration: Men of Forests and a Narrative of Europe’
  • Sara Venditti, LUISS Guido Carli: ‘European Defence and Industrial Debates: The Western European Union as an Informal Tool for European Integration during the 1980s’

Social movements in the sixties (H306) | Chair: Marc Lazar

  • Juho Saksholm, University of Jyväskylä: ‘Radical Freedom or Gradual Liberation? The Multi-Sitedness of Gender Debates in Finland and Sweden, ca. 1960-1969’
  • Ettore Bucci, Scuola Normale Superiore: ‘”C’est possible!” A Political and Religious History of Autogestion after May ‘68’

12.30 Lunch (Restaurant Tilia)

13.30 Practical challenges of the PhD (H306) | Chair: Ido de Haan

5-minute interventions:

  • Hagen Schulz-Forberg, How to get funded?
  • Thomas Welskopp, How to widen methodological expertise?
  • Irène Herrmann, How to network successfully?
  • Richard Vinen, How to publish and to have scholarly impact?
  • Pertti Ahonen, How to make an international career?

15.00­­–15.30 Coffee and final discussion and announcements by the Association for Political History (H306) | Chair: Marc Lazar

15.30­–17.30 Meeting of the APH Board (H105)

19.00–22.00 Get-together and buffet dinner