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International PhD Conference | 2018 | Call for Papers

6th International PhD Conference | Sciences Po, Paris, 20–22 June 2018

Call for Papers
Deadline 12 March 2018 (extended)

The Association for Political History (APH) has been created in September 2014 for promoting Political History, broadly defined as the history of institutions, parties, public policies, as well as the history of ideas, political cultures, identities, behaviours, passions or emotions. APH welcomes historians working from different perspectives, including the most recent and innovative ones, such as transnational history. One of the main goals of APH is to strengthen international cooperation in the field of education and research, thus promoting the quality of research. Furthermore, APH will provide high-quality training opportunities for PhD candidates and advanced masters students in Political History.

The institutions currently attached to APH are: Research School Political History (The Netherlands-Flanders), Sciences Po, Jyväskylä University, Luiss University Roma, King’s College London, Bielefeld University, Aarhus University. The University of Antwerp, University of Geneva, Södertörn University and European University Institute have recently joined the network. APH also supports the international group for PhD candidates in Political History.

6th International PhD Conference

The sixth annual conference of APH will be organized at Sciences Po, Paris, France from Wednesday June 20th to Friday afternoon June 22th 2018. APH invites PhD students from the participating institutions to apply to introduce their dissertation for comments from their peers and senior scholars from the member universities as well as by external commentators and keynote speakers.

Besides the panels during which PhD student will be able to introduce their papers which will be discussed by a senior researcher and another PhD, several events will take place: a lecture by Professor Jenny Andersson (Sciences Po) and two round tables. The schedule will be detailed soon.


Papers will be examined by a committee composed of professors of history from Sciences Po as for instance Claire Andrieu, Alain Chatriot, Nicolas Delalande, Mario Del Pero, Michele Di Donato, Mathieu Fulla, Gerd-Rainer Horn, Guido Panvini.

Each paper presenter should have 1–3 years experience in doctoral studies by the time of the conference. Your abstract and paper could start with a formulation of a particular scholarly point that you want to make and/or problem to which advice from the commentators and other participants is sought.

Paper proposals can focus on institutional political history, conceptual, social, cultural, of gender or anthropological in a national, transnational, compared or connected perspective. The concerned periods will mostly be the XVIIIth, XIXth, XXth and XXIst centuries, with no geographical boundaries. Yet, one or two sessions will specifically focus on political parties, institutions, States and political behaviors. Paper proposals on these topics will be carefully examined.


The deadline for applications including an abstract of 250–500 words, university affiliation and an explanation of the relation of the paper to the PhD project is 12 March 2018 (extended). The applications will be sent by e-mail to aph2018paris@gmail.com. The acceptance of the proposed papers will be confirmed by the first days of March 2018.

Practical information

An accepted paper of no more than 6,000 words must then be submitted to the conference organizers by 3 June 2018 at the latest. The paper will be made available to the other participants during the following week on a closed website. Kindly include in your paper a brief introduction for those who may be unfamiliar with the period, country, organization or theme of study. The oral presentation of the papers during the conference must not exceed 10 minutes, the rest of the time being reserved for comments and general discussion.


Paper presenters should be PhD students in the APH member universities. As a way to expand the network we invite doctoral students from universities that are not yet members of the APH to also propose papers. The final acceptance of the paper then depends on the student’s home institution agreeing to pay the annual institutional membership fee of the APH (currently EUR 300) which provides an entrance to the conferences for both the senior academic staff and PhD students. Consult the head of your department on the readiness of your home institution to participate before submitting your proposal. If you are interested in an individual membership instead, contact APH coordinator Margit van der Steen (margit.van.der.steen@huygens.knaw.nl) for further information.


The participating institutions will have to cover the travel and accommodation costs of their doctoral students but we aim at providing all meals and social programme. There will be no registration fee for this conference.

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

International PhD Conference | 2016

Fourth International APH PhD Conference | 22-25 June 2016 | Arhus, Denmark

The 4th International PhD Conference of the Association for Political History (APH) was opened by a roundtable on “Political History in the 21st Century” which addressed a broad range of topics including methodological questions, the necessity to frame the field of political history, and the role of historians in contemporary debates.

Conference report

The participants agreed on the need to broaden the scope of political history, going beyond earlier practices of diplomatic history (Duncan Kelly). Instead of focusing narrowly on events or institutions, political history has to account for the fact that political change is often initiated outside of the political domain (Maartje Janse). In fact, since all social facts have a political dimension, it was suggested, there are no limits to the study of political history (Marc Lazar).

Arhus 2016

In contrast to earlier debates, the transnational character of all political processes, it seemed, did no longer need emphasizing within this circle of scholars. Instead, the construction of legitimacy within discourses was stressed as a central matter of political history today (Hagen Schulz-Forberg). Even more, a shift from a history of ideas to a history of political discourse and languages of legitimation was identified (Kelly). The discursive nature of politics calls for a focus on language, discourses and the social construction of reality (Pasi Ihalainen). Ideas only exist in context and therefore an analysis of the social coproduction of ideas has to include not only words but also e.g. symbols (Ido de Haan).

Going hand in hand with this shift in focus, the debate showed, the discipline should open up its methodological toolbox to include insights from social science research (Janse). The historian’s obligation to make a case for the methodologies applied was identified as an important development within the field.

Moreover, as in earlier debates, attention was called to the necessity to reflect on the contemporary context in which one writes history. Pressing contemporary political issues such as immigration, efforts of (de-)politicization, the widespread rejection of the ruling classes, or the return of nationalist movements, it was held, could not be ignored (Lazar). This opened the debate on the role of the historian within society. Whether the historian could remain indifferent to contemporary developments, or if he should be present in public debates, however, remained contested.

Group Picture Arhus2016

While on the one hand, the historian was said to hold a twofold responsibility for both scientific knowledge and public debate (Lazar), the proximity to politics was also seen critically. History’s function of legitimizing political regimes in the past, it was noted, had contributed to the negative reputation of political history in the first place (de Haan). In addition, the inapplicability of historical insights for contemporary debates was underlined by current examples resulting in cranky attempts (Kelly). Acknowledging the instrumentalization of historians by politics, efforts to meet the challenges of taking part in contemporary debates, it was maintained, was nonetheless desirable (Lazar). The role of history in education was also mentioned but could not be discussed in detail due to time constraints.

Touching on a vast range of topics, the lively debate provided the audience with interesting insights into the state of the art of political history, common standpoints and key controversies.


International PhD Conference | 2015

Third International APH PhD Conference | 10-13 June 2015 | Bielefeld, Germany

This year the honor of hosting the APH (Association for Political History) Conference for PhD researchers in political history befell to the Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology. Participants were well prepared with clear directions to the impressively modern X Building that the Institute calls home. Upon entering the building a warm welcome by dr. Miriam Kanne and dr. Thomas Abel awaited the tired travelers, who had come to Bielefeld from all over Europe. After some refreshing drinks and the arrival of the last professors, the director of the Institute, prof. dr. Thomas Welskopp, opened the conference.

Panel discussion: Current Trends and Agendas in Political History

Prof. dr. Willibald Steinmetz (Bielefeld) chaired the panel discussion entitled ‘What’s next? Current Trends and Agendas in Political History’. Prof. dr. Henk te Velde (Leiden) took the floor and started introducing the Association for Political History. The APH has started as a European organization, because the founding members are European institutes and most members study national histories. But the APH aims to be an international association and is not about European history only.


International PhD Conference | 2014

Second International PhD Conference | 4-6 September 2014 | Leiden, The Netherlands

The Second International PhD Conference on political history was organized by the Dutch / Flemish Research School for Political History.

The three-day conference covered a broad range of topics, reflecting the current transformations the field has experienced. The conference offered 16 workshops with 49 presentations.

The conference started with a discussion on the future of the history of politics with amongst others Willibald Steinmetz (Bielefeld University). Furthermore, Kiran Klaus Patel (Maastricht University) delivered a keynote address on transnational perspectives.