The Political History section studies political and social relations from the Early Modern period until the present day. We take a broad perspective on these relations, ranging from petitions, social movements and political parties to mass killings and ethnic cleansing. The expertise of the Utrecht-based political historians comprises - among other things - the emergence, transformation, collapse and reconstruction of political institutions; nation and state building; historical developments in citizenship; the historical roots and current problems of democracy and the welfare state; and the changing character of political violence and its afterlife.

Central research themes

  • Democracy in historical perspective: the history of thinking about democracy, and doing democracy, in particular the formation and development of the institutions of democracy, such as universal suffrage, the separation of powers, representation and political parties
  • Politics of the past: the politics of collective memory, in particular urban memory, Holocaust memory, postcolonial memory and the memory of the industrial age. 
  • Political violence: how political discord can escalate into violent interaction, as well as how more peaceful forms of political interaction emerge after the cessation of armed conflict.
  • Political concepts: the history of political languages, ideas, concepts, and ideologies from antiquity to the present, but with a focus on the early modern and modern periods.