HomeTracing mobilities and socio-political activism

HomeTracing mobilities and socio-political activism

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Published on Friday, June 17, 2016


This doctoral workshop will explore to what extent the notion of “mobility” in current cultural and social theory (eg. Stephen Greenblatt, John Urry) can be fruitfully applied in historical research. Mobilities can be seen as cross-border movements of persons, objects, texts and ideas.



This doctoral workshop will explore to what extent the notion of “mobility” in current cultural and social theory (eg. Stephen Greenblatt, John Urry) can be fruitfully applied in historical research. Mobilities can be seen as cross-border movements of persons, objects, texts and ideas. How can we grasp mobility of people and ideas in the spheres of politics, learning and the arts? Within this context, we focus on the involvement of social, legal and educational reformers and other kinds of socio-political activists in (temporary) transnational intellectual networks on the one hand and their activities at home on the other. The conceptualization of intermediary persons as ‘rooted cosmopolitans’ (Sidney Tarrow), ‘mobilizers’ (Greenblatt) and ‘contact zones’ seem promising notions to unravel mobilities. The focus of the workshop is on European reformers and activists, but this does not mean that it is restricted to the European continent, as a lot of European nation states had colonies and cross-border cooperation and mobilities focused on colonial knowledge and governance took place in Europe as well as in the colonies themselves.

In this workshop PhD students will explore the notions of mobility and activism by presenting clear cut case studies. Participants will also reflect on methodological issues, for instance the usage of text mining, social network analysis and data visualization techniques in the humanities and social sciences.


  • Prof. dr. Christian Topalov – Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS)
  • dr. Kenneth Bertrams – Research Unit Modern and Contemporary Worlds (ULB)
  • dr. Wolf Feuerhahn – Centre Alexandre Koyré (EHESS)
  • dr. Damiano Matasci – Université de Genève
  • dr. Sarah Panter – Leibniz-Institut für Europäische Geschichte (IEG) Mainz

Keynote by Christian Topalov on Wednesday 29 evening, workshop on Thursday 30 June and the morning of Friday 1 July


The call for papers is already closed. If you would like to attend the workshop please sign up by sending an email to Stéphanie Manfroid of the Mundaneum (stephanie.manfroid@mundaneum.be) 

before 23 June.


Wednesday 29 June

  • 18h00: Lecture: Christian Topalov (EHESS): Bourgeois New York and charitable action in the Progressive Years

Thursday 30 June

  • 09h00-9h45: Keynote: Kenneth Bertrams (ULB):Recasting the endless frontier: scientific internationalism at the Solvay conferences after World War I

9h45-10h45: Session 1: States and communities

  • Jolien De Vuyst (UGent): Belgian refugees in Birmingham during the First World War: An analysis of the War Refugees’ Committee and its layered networks
  • Pieter De Messemaeker (UGent): Activism in exile: the first circle of Polish socialists in Belgium, ca. 1895-1905

Discussant: Sarah Panter (IEG Mainz)

11h00-12h00: Session 2: Culture and mobility

  • Thomas Smits (RU Nijmegen): Transnational illustrations of the news and identity formation in the Hollandsche Illustratie, 1864-1870
  • Lonneke Geerlings (VU Amsterdam): Cultural ‘mobilizers’ and ‘cultural mobilization’. Rosey E. Pool and Gordon Heath in the Dutch TV play Advocaat Pro Deo (1958)

Discussant: Wolf Feuerhahn (CAK, EHESS)

  • 13h00-13h45: Keynote: Wolf Feuerhahn (CAK, EHESS):Mobilities and redefinitions of scientific identities

13h45-15h15: Session 3: Scientific identities and mobilities

  • Julie Louette (UCLouvain): Mobility of ideas : the case of the international criminal statistics (1885-1914)
  • Michael Offermann (University of Bern): Mobility and confinement: the development of British India’s Prison Administrations, 1840s–1860s
  • Amandine Thiry (UCLouvain/ UGent): Historicizing “penitentiary tourism” in the first half of the 19th century

Discussant: Kenneth Bertrams (ULB)

  • 15h30-16h15 Keynote: Sarah Panter (IEG Mainz): Mobility and biography – or how to conceptualize transnational lives in the nineteenth century?

16h15-17h45: Session 4: Exchanges and mobility

  • Mara Donato Di Paola (ULB): Observing the others: the reform of Belgian secondary education at the end of the XIXth century in its European context
  • Thomas D’haeninck (UGent/ Maastricht University): Art changes the world… for the better? Transnational mobility of Belgian and Dutch intellectuals discussing social art at home and abroad, 1850-1914
  • Natalia Da Silva Pereira (ULB): Scientific culture and political activism: Foreign engineers in Belgium and their impact on the circulation of political ideas in the second half of the 19th century

Discussant: Damiano Matasci (University of Geneva)

Friday 1 July

9h00-9h45: Keynote: Damiano Matasci (University of Geneva): Mobilities, networks, borrowings: A transnational history of school reforms in France, 1870-1914

9h45-11h15: Session 5: Knowledge beyond Europe

  • Amandine Dumont (UCLouvain): Mobility and career strategies of colonial magistrates in the Belgian Congo (1908-1960)
  • Lisa van Diem (Maastricht University/ UGent): The mobile world of malaria prophylaxis: a case study of two Dutch experts in the early 1900s
  • Florian Wagner (EUI): Progress through cooperation: colonial internationalism and the reform of colonial policies 1890s-1950s

Discussant: Thomas Davies (City University London)

DARIAH-BE - Nodegoat community meeting

  • 11h30-12h00: Pim van Bree and Geert Kessels (LAB1100): Introduction into Nodegoat: a web-based data management, network analysis & visualisation environment.

13h30-15h00: Nodegoat project showcases.

Chair: Sally Chambers (Dariah/ UGent)

  • Wechanged: Agents of change: women editors and socio-cultural transformation in Europe, 1710-1920
  • SPIN: Study platform on interlocking nationalisms
  • NISE: National movements & intermediary structures in Europe
  • TIC Collaborative: The transnational dynamics of social reform, 1840-1940

Closing remarks: Christophe Verbruggen (UGent)


  • Mundaneum - 76 rue de Nimy
    Mons, Belgium (7000)


  • Wednesday, June 29, 2016
  • Thursday, June 30, 2016
  • Friday, July 01, 2016


  • mobility, transnational history, socio-political activism


  • Amandine Thiry
    courriel : amandine [dot] thiry [at] uclouvain [dot] be
  • Thomas D'haeninck
    courriel : thomas [dot] dhaeninck [at] ugent [dot] be
  • Lisa Van Diem
    courriel : lisa [dot] vandiem [at] maastrichtuniversity [dot] nl

Information source

  • Amandine Thiry
    courriel : amandine [dot] thiry [at] uclouvain [dot] be


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Tracing mobilities and socio-political activism », Conference, symposium, Calenda, Published on Friday, June 17, 2016, https://calenda.org/370583

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