8 October 2018

Beatrice de Graaf in the media with new book 'Securing Europe after Napoleon'

The book 'Securing Europe after Napoleon: 1815 and the New European Security Culture' by Professor Dr Beatrice de Graaf (History of International Relations) has received much media attention since the Dutch version came out on 1 October 2018. For instance, Nederlands Dagblad published a favourable review and De Graaf was interviewed in Trouw and in Knack. On Monday 8 October, she will be a guest on De Wereld Draait Door on NPO 1. An overview can be found below.

People want the incumbent power to take measures, to come up with policies, to protect us. That's strange. That exact thought, that the state can protect us, came about in 1815.
Prof. dr. Beatrice de Graaf. Foto: Rafaël Philippen

What happened after Napoleon was defeated once and for all in 1815? How did the European continent calm down? After 25 years of war and chaos, the population desired peace and security. A new European Defence Community (a NATO before that term existed) would make that happen. With the Duke of Wellington at the centre, who was in turn surrounded by numerous subordinate, resisting and helpful officers, lawyers, spies and other people in security-related professions.

With the help of all kinds of new instruments – passports, semaphore telegraphs, mutual customs checks and the very quick dissemination of descriptions of fugitive ‘terrorists’ and ‘assassins’ – society indeed became safer. Security came at a high price, and was funded with international loans and with reparations imposed on the French. But was terror really averted? And did this system lay the foundation for our current security establishment? Based on sources that had never been researched before, Beatrice de Graaf reconstructs a grand and detailed image of the first mutual European fight against terror.

Interview in Trouw

The Dutch newspaper Trouw published an interview with Beatrice de Graaf on 3 October, in which she tells about security and terror in the past and the present, and how history shaped society as it currently is. That is the reason why understanding the present by knowing history is the idea behind the book.

The time after Napoleon is often defined as a 'prelude to the world wars', which is why historians are primarily focused on the influence that the world wars had on modern-day society. But that approach results in the loss of understanding of many developments of the nineteenth century. “The year 1815 is just as important as World War II in order to understand the current problems. It was the moment that the national security states as we still know them came about – as well as the moment that they collaborated in a structural way," De Graaf explains. After 1814, people wanted stability, order and peace. "That's when the idea to work together for a common goal became prominent: peace and security. They had no choice. The land was scorched, population numbers were on the decline. The states of Europe needed each other."

The entire interview can be read here.

Beatrice de Graaf

Prof. dr. Beatrice de Graaf. Foto: Milette Raats
Professor Dr Beatrice de Graaf. Photo by: Milette Raats

Beatrice de Graaf (born in 1976) is a Professor of History of International Relations at Utrecht University. She researches the history of terrorism, war and violence – and is especially interested in the fight against them. She was a fellow at Cambridge University, makes regular appearances as an expert on terrorism and her earlier publications include ‘Gevaarlijke vrouwen’, ‘Theater van de angst’ and ‘Terrorists on Trial’. In 2018, her work was awarded the highest scientific award in the Netherlands, the Stevin Prize. She is affiliated with Institutions for Open Societies, an interdisciplinary research field of Utrecht University that aims to develop and expand healthy open societies anywhere in the world.

De Wereld Draait Door

On Monday 8 October 2018 Professor Dr Beatrice de Graaf made her appearance at Dutch talk show De Wereld Draait Door and talked about her new book.