11 March 2021: Online conference 'National Forgetting and Memory: The Destruction of "National" Monuments from a Comparative Perspective'

On 11 March 2021, the international platform 'National movements and Intermediary Structures in Europe' (NISE) and the Museum at the Yser jointly organise an online conference titled 'National Forgetting and Memory: The Destruction of "National" Monuments from a Comparative Perspective'.

This conference aims at shedding light on the relationship between the formation of a nation and the elements that might constitute its destruction by focusing on the destruction of ‘national’ monuments. Three key-note speakers and thirteen lecturers will elaborate on the matter throughout the day, tackling different cases from Europe, USA, Canada and South Africa. PoHis member Marnix Beyen will be chairing a session.

More information and registration via the NISE website.

9 March 2021: Online lecture 'Public Health and Medicine in the History of Latin America, 1870's - 1950's'

On 9 March 2021 at 7pm, the Centro de Estudios Mexicanos (CEM) en PoHis jointly organise an online lecture by Dr. Claudia Agostini, titled "Public Health and Medicine in the History of Latin America, 1870's - 1950's".

The aim of this paper is to present an overview of some of the main topics that have contributed to widen and renovate the histories of medicine and public health in Latin America in recent decades. Two main topics will be addressed. On the one hand, this paper will examine the growing interest among scholars from a wide range of disciplines on the plural and diverse histories of medicine and public health in Latin America during the period of 1870 to 1950, when the promotion of the health of the national population became particularly prominent throughout most of the region. On the other hand, a brief assessment of the importance that public health policies, programs, actors and institutions acquired in Mexico during that same period will be presented through the examination of one specific public health intervention: the containment, control and eradication of smallpox in both urban and rural settings.

Dr. Claudia Agostoni is doctor in History from King's College London and a tenured researcher at the Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). In 2016 she was awarded the Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Recognition and in 2005 she received the Research Award in the area of Humanities from the Mexican Academy of Sciences, of which she is also a member. Claudia is a specialist in the social history of public health in Mexico during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Advance registration is required.

18-20 September 2019: Conference 'Heraldic Hierarchies'

Conference Heraldic Hierarchies: Identities, Status and State Intervention in Early Modern Heraldry 

XXIth Colloquium of the International Academy of Heraldry

IXth Arenberg Conference for History

Between roughly the middle of the fifteenth and late eighteenth century, the growing interference of the monarchical state in status expressions and a process of aristocratization transformed heraldry’s outlook and significance in ways that still determine much of today’s heraldic practice. This colloquium aims to place these developments in a new perspective by exploring the capacity of early modern heraldry to foster socio-political hierarchies.


Date: 18 to 20 September 2019

Location: University of Antwerp, Stadscampus, Klooster van de Grauwzusters, Graduation Hall, Lange Sint-Annastraat 7, 2000 Antwerp

Participation fee: €100 (one-day attendance: €45)

Guided excursion to Ghent (21 September 2019): €30

26-27 April 2019: Symposium 'Intercountry Adoption: How to continue? Perspectives from the social sciences and humanities'

International and interdisciplinary symposium: 'Intercountry Adoption: How to Continue? Perspectives from the social sciences and humanities.'

On the days of April 26th and 27th of this year, a symposium on intercountry adoption will be organised in Brussels by the Support Centre for Adoption (Steunpunt Adoptie), and four Flemish universities (UGhent, UAntwerp, VUB and KULeuven). During this symposium, we will reflect about the questions above, and will invite national and international researchers from the social sciences and humanities for discussion. Adoption is already an important object of study within the field of psychology and medicine sciences. At the same time, since the turn of the century, researchers within social sciences and the humanities have increasingly focused on adoption and intercountry adoption in particular. Researchers in these fields are now paying more attention to the historical, political, economical, social, cultural and ethical aspects of intercountry adoption, as they investigate this practice within a context of migration, diversity and global inequalities. As these insights are relatively new and quite unknown within the adoption landscape, this symposium aims to bring these perspectives to attention of all people involved in intercountry adoption. In dialogue with the audience, we will search for answers to these important questions that take place in our contemporary adoption debate.

The first day (in English) of this two-day symposium will reflect about the future of intercountry adoption, focusing on the question “Is the current decline in intercountry adoption a ‘crisis’ or a positive evolution?

The second day (in Dutch) will zoom in on the experiences and challenges of intercountry adoptees.


Date: 26-27 April 2019

Venue: Erasmus Hogeschool, Zespenningenstraat 70, 1000 Brussels

More info and registrations via the website.

7-8 February 2019: International Conference 'The 1918 influenza pandemic: Historical and biomedical reflections'

The 1918 influenza pandemic: Historical and biomedical reflections

7-8 February 2019, Ypres, Belgium

Venue: Het Perron, Fochlaan 1, 8900 Ieper, Belgium

At the centenary commemoration of the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic, many questions with regard to the origin, the development and the impact of this worldwide phenomenon remain largely uncharted.  

Where did this virus come from?

To what degree and how were its genesis and its rapid transcontinental spread caused and/or facilitated by the war circumstances?

Which genetic features of the virus explain its unusually high pathogenicity?

How did medical and political authorities react?

Why were some age groups spared by this dreadful virus?

Is it possible to fathom the impact of the pandemic both on the everyday life of citizens and on general developments in science, culture and politics?

How far can a historical approach contribute to the understanding of current-day pandemics, and vice versa?

In order to tackle these questions, an international and interdisciplinary conference will be held in Ypres (Belgium) on 7-8 February 2019. The Scientific Committee warmly invites you to submit abstracts of original research papers related to biomedical and historical aspects of the 1918 influenza pandemic, which you would like to be considered for presentation at the conference. 

Find the program and more details here

23 October 2018: Masterclass Toby Osborne 'Early Modern Diplomatic History'

Masterclass Toby Osborne on Early Modern Diplomatic History

Tuesday 23 October 

2pm - 4pm at room R213, City Campus, Rodestraat 14 2000 Antwerpen

17-19 October 2018: Conference 'Thinking Sex after The Great War'

Thinking sex after the Great War

Wednesday 17 October - Friday 19 October (Brussels, Royal Library)

Thinking Sex after the Great War is an international conference organised by The University of Antwerp, l'Université libre de Bruxelles and Ghent University, in partnership with KU Leuven, UCL Louvain-la-Neuve, and AVG-Carhif, Forum for Gender History. The conference receives support from the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) and the Fonds de la Recherche Scientique (FNRS). 

The last few decades, the multifaceted relations between gender and the First World War have been explored in various historical studies. Historians have analysed the role of gender in the run-up to the outbreak of the war and in the war propaganda, they have depicted the gendered experience of the war by soldiers and civilians, and probed the ways in which the war challenged and blurred existing gender roles. Yet they have also described how the war in the end often seemed to reinforce gender stereotypes. Throughout this rich literature, the question of the impact of the war on gender relations often resurfaces, although most scholars seem to agree that a definitive and general answer on the ‘net result’ of the war in terms of increasing or decreasing equality, is hard to reach and probably beside the point.

The organizers of this conference invite historians to reflect on the impact of the Great War on gender from the specific angle of learned discourses. Intellectuals, philosophers, social scientists, physiologists, psychologists and scientists witnessed and experienced the war personally. Some of them were integrated in the military war machine (either as ‘common’ soldiers, officers or experts) and were relocated, while others stayed at home and continued their jobs, or registered themselves as ‘conscientious objectors’ and explicitly opposed the war. Like other citizens, they lost family members and friends, experienced love and desire, excitement and disillusionment, enthusiasm and indignation. These experiences inevitably impacted upon their view of society, human nature and the role of the sexes and sexuality. The conference will focus on the trajectories and experiences of intellectuals before, during and after the war, and how the war reinforced, challenged or changed research agendas, paradigms and knowledge about gender and sexuality.

See full program here

14-15 September 2018: Workshop 'Political Violence in Syria: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives'

Political Violence in Syria: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives 

Call for Papers

The Centre for Political History (University of Antwerp) and Utrecht University invite proposals for papers for a workshop on political violence in Syria. The workshop will be held at University of Utrecht on 14-15 September 2018. The workshop will be organised by Dr. Uğur Ümit Üngör (Department of History, Utrecht University) and Dr. Roschanack Shaery (Department of History, University of Antwerp).

This workshop is intended to look at the long standing tradition of political violence in postcolonial Syria and historicize the recent developments. It aims to bring together approaches that include pre-existing structural conditions as well as contemporary empirical studies that examine the causes, courses, and consequences of such large-scale violence in present-day Syria. 

Please submit your abstract to u.ungor@uu.nl and roschanack.shaery@uantwerpen.be before 15 april 2018.

Read the full Call for Papers

27-29 May 2018: Workshop 'Progressive Catholicism in Latin America and Europe 1950s-1980s'

Progressive Catholicism in Latin America and Europe 1950s-1980s. Social Movements and Transnational Encounters.

Call for Papers

KADOC-KU Leuven, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies (KU Leuven), Department of History at Sciences Po (Paris) and Power in History (University of Antwerp) invite proposals for papers for a workshop on Progressive Catholicism (Latin America and Europe, 1950s-1980s). The workshop will be held at KU Leuven on 27-29 May 2018.

This conference on progressive Catholicism in Latin America and Europe, organized on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of 1968, intends to investigate and cast new light on the transnational transfer of ideas and encounters between religious and secular progressive movements on both sides of the Atlantic during the period ranging from the 1950s to the 1980s. Critically, it wants to assess the role of progressive Catholicism in the broader context of expanding social and cultural relations between Latin America and Europe, and to stress its relevance to other burgeoning research fields, such as the history of “1968”, human rights, transnational activism, and the Cold War.

28 November 2017: Seminar Gareth Stedman Jones 'Pressure from Without: Karl Marx and 1867'

Political History seminar with professor Gareth Stedman Jones. 

Annexe building at 10am.

18-20 October 2017: International Conference 'Subaltern Political Knowledges, ca 1770-ca 1950'

Conference 'Subaltern political knowledges, ca 1770-ca 1950'

During the last decades, political historians have increasingly focused on the evolution of political consciousness among the “common people” during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In that process they have often made use of all-encompassing notions such as politicization, democratization and nationalization. These have in common that they suggest an increasing commitment of a growing number of citizens in the political life of the nation, but because these concepts are so general and linear, they are hard to grapple with. Do they refer to an increase in consciousness and/or agency? Apart from the difficulty of measuring these processes, one can also ask whether they necessarily occur in parallel. A more active participation in electoral processes, for example, does not necessarily entail a greater commitment to political values, and membership of political associations can be inspired as much by individual calculations as by concern for the common good. 

The conference “Subaltern political knowledges”  intends to take one step back and ask a question which should precede all discussion of politicization, democratization and nationalization of the masses: what did people actually know about politics? In our quest for an answer, we will primarily focus on “subaltern” groups in society, i.e. on people that neither occupied a position of formal or informal power in society nor were able to make their voice heard in public debates. We aim at discovering the knowledge these people expressed about political institutions, personalities, values and ideologies. While doing so, we pay attention to both the temporal and the spatial framework of this knowledge. Was it situated primarily at a local or national level, or did it extend to international politics? And did people only refer to politics of their own time, or did they evoke politicians and/or political systems of the past? Did they engage in comparisons between the past and the present?

Apart from the contents of the political knowledge of the subalterns, this conference also investigates its sources. Did these subalterns refer to the newspapers and other mass media, were they informed by electoral campaigns, were they inspired by informal talk with neighbors or relatives, was membership of associations a decisive factor?

Thirdly and finally, the conference intends to address the question how people acted upon their political knowledge. Did they use it in order to further their personal interests, or to support institutional or societal change?

The challenge of this conference will be to bring together a broad range of papers in which these questions are addressed empirically, preferably on the basis of sources created by subalterns (whether or not addressing members of elite groups). The geographical scope of the conference is emphatically global, and we invite scholars to submit proposals on cases from all over the world. They should be situated, however, in contexts where some form of institutionalized democratic politics was taking shape, but where the distribution of political knowledge was not yet facilitated by a powerful mass media such as television. The focus of the conference, therefore, will be on the period between the last decades of the eighteenth century and the 1950s.

Rather than offering grand narratives about the increase or decrease of political knowledge, we aim to historicize the theme, investigating how in diverse historical contexts certain types of political knowledge correlated with categories such as gender, age, ethnicity, urbanity, profession, literacy, sociability and electoral status (voter vs. non-voter). By juxtaposing and comparing these micro-historical investigations, we hope to be able to assess the relative strength and recurrence of these correlations. In the process, we will build a strong empirical foundation for nuanced discussions of politicization, democratization and nationalization.

Keynote speakers include: Rachel Jean-Baptiste (UCDavis), Eduardo Elena (University of Miami), Maartje Janse (Universiteit Leiden), Harm Kaal (Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen), Frédéric Monier (Université d’Avignon), and Michaela Fenske (Humboldt-Universität Berlin).

Please submit a 500-word paper abstract and a 200-word biography to Karen Lauwers (karen.lauwers@uantwerpen.be) and/or Marnix Beyen (marnix.beyen@uantwerpen.beby April 15, 2017. You will be notified of the result of the selection procedure by the 1st of May at the latest.

1 December 2016: Workshop 'The diagnosis of being different: Homosexuality, media and Western societies since 1945'

Date: 1/12/2016

Venue: Universiteit Antwerpen - City Campus - Building K, room K.201 - Kleine Kauwenberg 14 - 2000 Antwerpen

On 1 December 1966, Belgian national television broadcasted its first ever program devoted to homosexuality entitled The Diagnosis of Being Different. On the 50th anniversary of this trail-blazing attempt to broach the issue in a constructive way, the Forum for Belgian Research into the History of Gender and Sexuality is organizing a Workshop on the role played by various media in the knowledge about and the perception of homosexuality in Western societies since the Second World War.


5-6 September 2016: Workshop 'The concept of "national indifference" and its potential to nations and nationalism research'

Convenor: Maarten Van Ginderachter (Antwerp University), Michal Kopecek and Radka Sustrova (Charles University Prague) 

In cooperation with Charles University Prague, the Prague City Archives and NISE

Venue: Glam-Gallas Palace, Husova 158/20, Prague
5-6 September 2016

Papers will be refereed at the workshop by Pieter Judson (EUI – Firenze), James M. Brophy (University of Delaware), Jeremy King (Mount Holyoke College) and Tara Zahra (University of Chicago).

This project is coordinated by the POHIS-Centre for political history of Antwerp University and funded by the ‘International Scientific Research’ program of the Research Foundation of Flanders.

27-28 May 2016: Workshop 'Breaching banal nationalism'

Venue: Antwerp University
27-28 May 2016

Convenors: Jon Fox (Bristol University) and Maarten Van Ginderachter (Antwerp University)


Marco Antonsich (Loughborough University)

Bruno De Wever (Ghent University)

Tim Edensor (Manchester Metropolitan University)

Jon Fox (Bristol University)

Jonathan Hearn (University of Edinburgh)

Michael Skey (University of East Anglia)

Andreas Stynen (NISE- Antwerp)

Eric Storm (Leiden University)

Maarten Van Ginderachter (Antwerp University)

Peter Vermeersch (Leuven University)

Programme text

Michael Billig’s 1995 book, Banal Nationalism, helped redefine the scholarship on nationalism by arguing that nationalism’s power rests not (only) in its ability to attract attention, but also in its ability to not attract attention. Whilst previous (and indeed subsequent) studies have been drawn to nationalism’s more spectacular manifestations (from violent internecine conflict and fiery nationalist rhetoric to national holiday celebrations and world cup football), Billig looked and located contemporary nationalism in the background of the world in which we live. For Billig, nationalism worked its magic not through flag waving, but through flags hanging limply, stealthily concocting a world of nations that is unselfconsciously imbibed as part of the taken-for-granted landscape of things. Billig’s insights helped change the way we think about – and study – nationalism, diverting our attention away from nationalism’s pomp and circumstance, its buttons and whistles, and refocusing our gaze on its banal reproduction.

2 June 2015: Seminar 'International Law and Arbitration From The Hague Conferences to The League of Nations: Global and Belgian perspectives'

2 June 2015, University of Antwerp, Prinsstraat 10, 2000 Antwerp, room P.002


9:45 Welcome

10:00 Maartje Abbenhuis (University of Auckland): A Global History of the Hague Peace Conferences, 1898 - 1914

The two Hague conferences of 1899 and 1907 have a contested historiography. Depending on the historical tradition, the conferences are presented as either irrelevant, mere footnotes 'en route to the First World War’, or as foundational moments shaping twentieth-century international law and order. Based on a variety of published and archival sources, this talk explains how contemporaries looked to The Hague conferences as golden opportunities to shape the international law and organisation and explains why these events are so important to understanding global realities of the time.

10:40 Vincent Genin (Université de Liège): Juristes, parlementaires et diplomates en Belgique dans le processus menant aux Conférences de la Paix de La Haye de 1875 à 1899/1907

Il n’est pas inintéressant de souligner que la manière dont la Belgique a appréhendé les Conférences de la Paix de La Haye de 1899 et 1907 mérite encore une étude solide. Notre ambition, dans le cadre de ce séminaire, est d’analyser les circonstances qui ont entouré ce rapport entre un pays déterminé et un phénomène défini, à savoir un aboutissement du processus de diffusion de l’arbitrage obligatoire entre les États. Promu en Belgique par diverses institutions, depuis 1870, et défendu de manière plus ferme par le Parlement dès 1875, cet arbitrage ou la volonté, par extension, de mettre sur pied un tribunal arbitral international, sont l’objet de débats importants en Belgique, tant au Ministère des Affaires étrangères, qu’au Parlement ou dans les écrits et correspondances privées des juristes de droit international. L’étude de ce phénomène et de la manière dont il a été représenté et accueilli, est l’objet de notre contribution.

11 :00 Maarten Van Alstein (Vlaams Vredesinstituut): A Realist View: The Belgian Diplomatic Elite and the League of Nations

After the First World War, principles such as collective security and arbitration were enhanced in international politics, not in the least because they formed the cornerstones of new international organizations such as the League of Nations. After nearly eighty decades of neutrality, Belgian policymakers and diplomats were determined to pursue a more activist foreign policy and engage in international organizations and alliances. Although Belgium became a member of the new League of Nations and provided the first president of its general assembly, Belgian policymakers and diplomats’ attitudes towards principles such as collective security and arbitration ranged from cautiousness to clear skepticism. Although an evolution towards increased trust in collective security and arbitration can be observed between 1919 and 1929, Belgian policymakers' and diplomats' views during this period remained predominantly based on realist premises and beliefs

31 March 2015: Roundtable 'The past, the present and the future of sexual revolution'

March 31, 2015: Roundtable: The Past, the Present and the Future of Sexual Revolution

In collaboration with the Atelier Genre(s) et Sexualité(s), Power in History – the Centre for Political History of the University of Antwerp presents a roundtable discussion on:

The Past, the Present and the Future of Sexual Revolution

Activists Irène Kaufer and Bart Eeckhout (Universiteit Antwerpen) will enter into a debate with the editors of Sexual Revolutions (Palgrave 2014) and Révolutions sexuelles (La Musardine 2015): Gert Hekma (Universiteit van Amsterdam) and Alain Giami (Universiteit Antwerpen). The discussion will be introduced by Wannes Dupont (Universiteit Antwerpen) and moderated by David Paternotte (Université Libre de Bruxelles).

The topic. The introduction to the recent edited volume Sexual Revolutions ends with the editors claiming that sexual liberation is still “worth fighting for”. But many of the contributions that follow this introduction complicate any unambiguous idea of what such a liberation or revolution has comprised in the past and what it might entail in the future. 
Moreover, it is clear from the introduction itself that the events of the 1950s, 60s and 70s have produced mixed results about which there is considerable scepticism among scholars, activists and members of the public alike. The mayor of Antwerp, for instance, has railed against what he called the “ravage” caused by the sexual revolution of that period.
At the risk of generalising too much, it could be argued that one of the main outcomes of the sexual revolution has been the ascendancy of a new normative model with regards to sex in a wide range of countries. Where, until the 1960s, ‘good’ sex was confined to married life and aimed at reproduction (in theory, if not in practice), the notion of consensus-based liberalism has prevailed since then.
Current debates about sexuality are most often concerned with either refining this consensus-based model, or with the conservative forms of resistance to it. So, is a refined consensus-based liberal model the end of sexual history? Or is it just the current horizon of our thinking? What, in other words, are our options, and what might the next revolutionary model look like? How could, for example, children’s sexuality or the sexuality of the mentally disabled help us to think beyond our current model? And should they?

When? Tuesday 31 March, 5-7 pm

Where? ‘Annex’-room (number 3 on the attached plan), City campus, University of Antwerp.

Please register in advance via wannes.dupont@uantwerpen.be

18-19-20 June 2014: International Conference 'Languages and the First World War'

Conference: Languages and the First World War, International Conference, 18-19-20 June 2014

The centenary of the outbreak of the First World War coincides with the fading of direct memory of the period. Few can remember the linguistic experience of wartime in the speech of those directly or indirectly involved, but the linguistic traces of combat and civilian life, in and out of war zones, remain. 

The term ‘no man’s land’, for instance, came into general use in English during the First World War, referring to inhabitable areas that saw the fiercest of the fighting between the two sides of the conflict; the use of the term, many centuries earlier referring to an isolated patch of land outside the City of London, is indicative of a pattern of language-change produced by the war – by 1920 ‘Niemandsland’ was a widely used term in German. In the varied theatres of war, the home fronts, training camps, war offices, hospitals and supply trains, language shifts happened, in which the dialects and languages of the various parties involved influenced one another, and in which new language and new language use emerged through new technologies of destruction and communication.

The idea for a conference on the linguistic experience and legacy of the war arose from research into the sociolinguistics of the war (especially the Western Front) and the immediate post-war period in the UK, particularly with reference to how terms had crossed linguistic boundaries, including between hostile linguistic groups.  The conference aims to be truly international and interdisciplinary.

The conference will take place on 18, 19 & 20 June 2014.

The University of Antwerp will host the first day, and the British Library will host the third. The interim day will be for travel between the two sites, with a possible visit to In Flanders Fields Museum at Ypres arranged for the morning of 19 June. There will be a book launch and public lecture at the British Library on the evening of 19 June. Eurostar travel between the two Brussels and London only takes two hours.

Papers may be given in languages other than English, with synopses available in English.

27 March 2014: Masterclass 'National history museums'

March 27, 2014: Master class on National history museums

PoHis – The Centre for Political History of Antwerp University and the Institute for Public History of Ghent University present

a masterclass on 'National history museums'

with prof. dr. Peter Aronsson (Linnaeus University, Sweden)

March 27, 2014 – 10.30 AM – City Campus UA - Annexe

The topic of the masterclass is ‘Comparing cultural institutions and the formation of both culture and research policy.’

With a large comparative project on European national museums as example, we will discuss advantages and disadvantages of comparative cultural research and 'challenge' driven research promoted by Horizon 2020 et al.

Peter Aronsson is an internationally acknowledged specialist in the field of National history museums. He coordinates a large European program, EUNAMUS, on the role of national heritage institutions and museums in the making of nations and states in Europe (http://www.eunamus.eu/).

Entrance is free, but places are limited. Please contact Maarten.VanGinderachter@uantwerpen.be to register for the masterclass or for further information.

With the support of: