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Political History Research Group

Research and teaching of this group analyses political history from a European and international perspective (1800-present). We focus on the exercise and legitimation of power in history, by colonial empires, nation-states, organisations and individuals.

Particular attention is paid to the role of the EU, the history of corruption and good governance and the ‘politics of remembrance’ (including the remembrance of the holocaust, slavery and colonialism), as well as theory of history and the (mis)uses of the past for political purposes. Concerning the latter, in our perspective, political history requires a reflection on the historian’s societal task. 

Questions we ask in our courses and research include: what was the impact of decolonization? How did European integration influence politics and policy-making? Why did ideas about corruption and legitimate governance change over time? How is the Holocaust remembered? And what is the value of history?

Our areas of interest:

  • state formation - nationalism - international relations
  • empire - decolonisation - historical injustice
  • corruption - governance - democracy
  • slavery - holocaust - memory
  • ideology - religion - race
  • theory of history - heritage - uses of the past


Our teaching focuses primarily on modern and contemporary history (1800-present). In the BA Geschiedenis and BA History & International Studies, we teach courses on European history, Decolonization, International Organisations, Global Political History of Democracy, Theory of History and Holocaust & Genocide. At the MA level, we teach courses such as Keyworks in Contemporary Historical Thought, Slavery and Compensation, Political Corruption and Good Governance, Applied History, and we coordinate the MA History: Politics and Sovereignty. Both in the MA and BA, we also teach courses that discuss sources and methods available to historians, such as ego documents, images, monuments, archives, parliamentary papers, digital data and oral history. In addition, we teach in the Humanities major of the Amsterdam University College.

Research projects

The personal webpage of each researcher contains more information about their research projects, publications and their role in teaching.

Expert comments, policy advice and public engagement activities

Members of the research group frequently take part in public discussions, appear in the media and are consulted as experts.

Political History staff 

Chiel van den Akker, Assistant Professor in Theory of History
Alessandra Bitumi, Assistant Professor in Political History
George Harinck, Professor in the History of Neocalvinism
Dienke Hondius, Assistant Professor in Political History
Ronald Kroeze, Associate Professor in Political History
Susan Legêne, Professor in Political History
Wim Manuhutu, Lecturer in Political History
Bettine Siertsema, Assistant Professor in Political History

Endowed Professors
Dr. Maarten Doorman, Endowed Professor in Historical culture of Germany: philosophy, art and literature, co-founded by the Germany Institute Amsterdam.

PhD candidates and external PhDs
Christoph van den Belt MA, Geschiedenis van christelijke pers in een seculiere samenleving.
Otto Linde MA, Corruption in the era of the ‘ethical policy’: concessions to private businesses and labour regimes (1870s-1920s).
Uji Negroho Winardi MA, Fighting corrupt colonialism: the nationalist movement and the formation of the independent Indonesian state (1920s-1950s).
Floris van Berckel Smit MA, De opmars van New Public Management in het Nederlandse en Vlaamse universitaire bestuur, 1980-2020.