Seminar New Horizons in Military History Research

Date: Wednesday 27 February 2019, 9.30 – 18.00 hrs.
Location:  Amsterdam University Library, Singel 425, Doelenzaal.

Over the past decades, military history has developed into a field covering a wide variety of topics, theories and methodologies. Moving beyond ‘traditional’ operational military history, successive waves of social and cultural historians have focused on the impact of military organization and activities on wider society, or have found new ways to discuss organized violence and the various forms and shapes of warfare across increasingly wide temporal and geographical dimensions. However, due to the plethora of new approaches and influences, there is a distinct danger of losing sight of military history as a distinct field of historical inquiry. Situated within an increasingly interdisciplinary field of study we can ask ourselves: what makes military history? Is there still a subdiscipline of military history and military historians? And furthermore, what are the benefits and pitfalls of these developments?

The Research School of Political History hosts a one-day seminar on current developments in military history and beyond. During several panel sessions and an interactive workshop, we will touch upon different topics, such as the relationship between the armed forces and society, responsibility and ethics, identity and memory, minorities and diversity. In these workshops, participating PhD candidates and scholars will collaborate and discuss the future of military history and its methodology. The day will conclude with a keynote by prof. Sönke Neitzel (professor of military history and the cultural history of violence at the University of Potsdam) on the future of military history, after which we will retreat for drinks.

The seminar will be held at the University Library of Amsterdam on the 27th of February 2019. This day will provide an opportunity for young scholars working within the field of military history in the broadest sense to present their research and to stimulate debate on the relevance of military history and its connections to other fields within the discipline of history. Furthermore, this day will be an excellent venue to meet and exchange thoughts on the future of historical research.

Organization: Netherlands Research School Political History in cooperation with Kim Bootsma, Tom Duurland, Francesca Hooft, Wim Klinkert and Samuel Kruizinga.

Location:  Amsterdam University Library, Singel 425, Doelenzaal. There is virtually no parking space in the vicinity of the library. It is, however, easy to reach by public transport from Amsterdam Central Station: trams 2, 4, 11, 12, 14, 24, stop: either Koningsplein or Muntplein. 


9.30     Doors open

9.45       Welcome by Margit van der Steen on behalf of RSPH

Opening by Francesca Hooft

9.55       Two parallel sessions

Session 1

Francesca Hooft: ‘Identities and Emotions in Military History: Physicians and Nurses in the Conflict Zone’.

Sander Govaerts: ‘Armies and Ecosystems in the Meuse Region, 1250-1850: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Premodern Military History’

PhD discussant: to be announced

Senior discussant: Jurriën de Jong

Session 2

Kim Bootsma: ‘Reasonable discrimination? Gender and the integration of women in the Dutch armed forces, 1968-1978’

Tom Duurland: ‘The Sword and the Esculape: medical responsibilities in total war, 1949-1989’

PhD discussant: tba

Senior discussant: Jan Hoffenaar

11.15    Break

11.30     Two parallel sessions

Session 3

Koos-Jan de Jager: ‘Religion on the battlefield in Indonesia, 1945-1950’

Vera van der Zee: tba

PhD discussant: tba

Senior discussant: Samuel Kruizinga

Session 4

Frank Bethlehem: ‘The Netherlands Border Guard policy, 1989-1995’

Pauline Onderwater: ‘First World War and neutrality historiography: towards a new paradigm’

PhD discussant: tba

Senior discussant: Wim Klinkert

13.00     Lunch

14.00     Keynote speech by professor Sönke Neitzel

14.45     Workshop introduction by Kim Bootsma

14.50     Workshops

16.00     Break

16.15    Workshop results and concluding remarks by Tom Duurland

17.00    Drinks

Instructions for registration and participation

Please send an email to confirming participation in the seminar before 21 February. The RSPH offers lunch and drinks.


Speakers and organization

Prof. Dr. Sönke Neitzel is a German professor of military history at the University of Potsdam.

Prof. dr. Wim Klinkert is professor of military history at the University of Amsterdam and the Netherlands Defence Academy.

Prof. dr. Jan Hoffenaar is professor of military history at Utrecht University and the Netherlands Institute of Military History (NIMH).

Dr. Samuël Kruizinga is senior lecturer at the University of Amsterdam

Dr. Margit van der Steen is coordinator of the Research School Political History in the Netherlands and assistant professor at Leiden University.

Jurriën de Jong is a reseacher at the Netherlands Institute of Military History (NIMH).

Kim Bootsma is PhD candidate at Groningen University. In her project, she analyses the integration of women in the Dutch armed forces from the 1970s onwards.

Francesca Hooft is PhD candidate at Utrecht University. She works on the deployment of physicians and nurses with the armed forces during peacekeeping and humanitarian operations since 1990.

Tom Duurland is PhD candidate at Leiden University, working on military medicine during the Cold War period.

Frank Bethlehem is PhD candidate at the Netherlands Institute of Military History, specialising on Dutch border guard policy, 1914-1995.

Koos Jan de Jager is a PhD candidate at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam working on religion in warfare, focusing on Indonesia in the 1940s.

Sander Govaerts is a PhD candidate at the University of Amsterdam working on the armed forces and the environment in the premodern period.

Vera van der Zee works on a PhD research on female conscription in the army in 1908.

Pauline Onderwater is a PhD candidate at the University of Amsterdam. In her work, she focuses on the changing relationship between citizens and government in the Netherlands during the First World War.