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Research in the Centre for Historical Studies

The Centre is devoted to research on a wide range of aspects of historical investigation spanning from Classical Antiquity to our own time. Research interests are mainly focused on the cultural, social, political and economic diversity of Western societies, but also expand to the non-western world (notably South East Asia, Africa) and cover issues such as post-colonialism and transnationalism.

Three research groups facilitate interdisciplinary research on themes which are at the heart of current debates in historical disciplines and the wider society. Researchers operate interdisciplinary and international.

  1. 'Sustainable societies: past and present' studies forms and practices, arrangements, cultures and institutions which explain and contribute to the social coherence and sustainability of societies from antiquity to the present. It is unique in its endeavour to lay bare the historical and cultural roots of the present-day relationship between politics, state and society. It addresses explicitly the role of literary, artistic and religious culture in these processes alongside that of the more familiar political institutions.
  2. 'Regions, Networks, Mobility': research in this theme group is based on the idea that money, goods, news, knowledge and beliefs function and become meaningful in networks of exchange within or crossing borders. The complexity of the historical processes involved is addressed interdisciplinary, thereby challenging economic, social, cultural and political historians as well as other researchers in the arts and humanities and beyond to cooperate and develop new and exciting insights and interpretations. The theme is embedded in Groningen's research strength in the history of regions and in the evolving new research area of the circulation of knowledge.
  3. 'Thinking about History and Historical Culture'. The University of Groningen has a long and internationally recognized expertise in the metahistorical reflection of history and culture. The aim of this research group is twofold: to surpass the limits of one single historiographical perspective and to analyze human memory as it manifests itself in (auto-)biographical writing, historical products of individuals or groups that collect, record or write 'their own' history such as game designers, historical novelists and film producers.
  • Testimonial van

    Research Fellow at Clingendael Institute

    Five years ago I enrolled in the Research Master's track in Modern History and International Relations at the University of Groningen. It was a small-scale programme that gave you the opportunity to develop further in a specific field of research in a group of 10 students. That appealed to me, as did the interesting modules that were offered alongside the regular programme, such as 'Euroculture' and the summer school 'Democracy and Transitional Justice'.

    With the combination of academic depth and the option of doing a placement, the Research Master’s track was a good preparation for the job market. Before I finished the programme I had already found a job as public relations officer for the Dutch Labour Party’s MEPs in Brussels. The flexibility of the programme and my thesis supervisor’s good supervision made it possible for me to graduate with honours alongside my work.

    I currently work as a research fellow for Europe at Clingendael, the Netherlands Institute for International Relations in The Hague. With the European Union facing significant challenges, it is a special time to be working at the Europe cluster at Clingendael. My research is on European administration, European integration and European Neighbourhood Policy. In the future I would like to do a PhD on one of these topics.

  • Testimonial van

    Research Master's Student Patty Huijbers About Her Research Assistants Programme

  • Testimonial van

    I choose the courses that are fitting my interests: ancient history

    I applied at several universities but chose Groningen because of the interdisciplinarity of the programme and the fact that in contrast to other universities, Groningen offers a two-year programme instead of one. More importantly, the lesser amount of tuition fees, comparing to other countries, has been an important motivation for doing my master's degree here in the Netherlands.

    The advantage of this programme is that it offers the opportunity to structure the programme as you want. I choose the courses that are fitting my interests: ancient history. Thus, I can set the focus on my own investigation, with efficient supervision: associations of the Greek and Roman cities. A great asset of the programme is that some courses include excursions to other countries. For instance, in the first semester we visited Rome and this has been a great and unique experience for me. Not only did we have the opportunity to visit a lot of sites and museums, but also to experience academic work on site, that is presenting certain monuments, in front of the monuments, rather than via a pc.

    Furthermore, I find it very convenient that there are not many exams in the programme. They do not count my development as a student on a strict basis of reproducing knowledge, but they want to see my interpretation and my research. Although the programme has disadvantages sometimes, in general lines this approach is fulfilling for me. For the future I would like to continue with my research since I have plans to do a PhD.

  • Testimonial van

    PhD student at the University of Groningen

    After completing my Bachelor's degree programme in English Language and Culture I was on the lookout for more depth and specialization. This Research Master's programme was just what I was looking for. I was also able to broaden my knowledge by following a number of private seminars and tutorials.

    One of the most enjoyable and successful parts of my degree was the tutorial that I set up with my fellow students, The Skelton Project. We worked on a website with digital editions of poems by the medieval poet John Skelton. Although we’ve graduated now, we still love working on animations of Skelton’s poems. In the Research Master’s programme we didn’t just conduct research, but developed other skills too. Organizing the CMRS conference in the first year, for instance, was good preparation for the organizational side of the academic world. If I hadn’t made the decision to do the Research Master’s track in Classical, Medieval and Early Modern Studies I wouldn’t be where I am now as a PhD student at the University of Groningen. In my PhD research, I am analysing medieval manuscripts containing agricultural texts that English landowners would have read. I became interested in this topic as I was researching the development of agricultural treatises for my Master's thesis.

  • Testimonial van

    I specialized in African Studies and International Development

    After gaining my Bachelor's degree in History I started the Research Master's track in Modern History and International Relations at the University of Groningen. My History programme was rather broad-based and I knew that this Master's track offered a lot of room for personal preferences and specialization. During my Master's I specialized in African Studies and International Development.

    In the first year I followed several research seminars on Africa, and in the second I started a placement at the African Studies Centre in Leiden. In this centre I helped disseminate knowledge and understanding of African communities and developed all kinds of tools, such as a mobile app. I then moved to the UK to complete my specialization. I liked it so much that I decided to stay and write my Master's thesis on school systems in Congo (DRC). My thesis analyses a potential new development in the provision of education by non-state actors such as religious institutions. This is a topic that will lead us to debates and questions such as: 'Can we use religion for development cooperation?'

    In the future I would like to work for an international advisory centre, or perhaps as an operational manager for an NGO – preferably a development organization, so that I can use my knowledge and expertise to analyse and help improve local policy.

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