PhD Researchers

St Andrews, St Mary’s College

The network welcomes interested PhD researchers and we are happy to welcome postgraduate students who wish to actively contribute to our research interests and activities. By an active contribution we understand the participation at one or more workshops or summer / winter schools throughout the period of postgraduate studies. Moreover, GRAINES invites PhD researchers to actively shape the network further by organising events such as workshops, seminars, ateliers or journées d’études. In case you wish to organise an event individually or with peers from a partner institution and need support, please do not hesitate and get in contact with a member of staff.

Davina Benkert, Basel

PhD member of the Steering Committee
My research focuses on drugs and spices and their economies in Basle around 1600. In my analysis I combine purely economic aspects of trade with the new research in science history. My sources are the archives of the city guilds where apothecaries and spice merchants were incorporated and the vast collection of letters by Basle scholars and dignitaries in the Basle University Library. I am combining these sources in a prosopographical database to map the personal and professional, local, regional and global networks involved and to show how the perception and handling of these goods changed over the observation period.

Keywords: Economic history, history of science and knowledge, commodities, networks, connected history


Jordan Girardin, St Andrews

PhD member of the Steering Committee

Jordan Girardin (PhD St Andrews)Jordan previously studied at Sciences Po Lyon (France) and Penn (USA). His PhD project focuses on the transformation of the Alps into a transnational space (1750 – 1830). His research interests are centred around networks and their visualisation, with a special focus on borderlands and travellers.


Alexander Van Wickeren, Cologne

PhD member of the Steering Committee


Johannes Florian Kontny, Vienna

PhD member of the Steering Committee

From Imperial Periphery to National Border Towns: Eupen and Znojmo/Znaim as Focal Points of Belgian and Czechoslovak Interwar Nationality Politics

On the basis of Rogers Brubaker’s definition of minority as a dynamic political stance, my dissertation will examine the effects of boundaries on communal relationships in two small-town settings in Western and East Central Europe. Two peripheral border cities serve as points of reference, the East Belgian Eupen on the Belgian-German border and the Southern Moravian Znojmo/Znaim on the Czechoslovak-Austrian border. While Zojmo/Znaim had already been used to national political conflicts, Eupen was only confronted with them after 1918. In both cases, the minority stance proved to be a political approach that could be used flexibly and included a high potential of mobilization. The dissertation aims to compare the local political life of both cities in the triadic nexus (Rogers Brubaker) between national minorities, nationalizing states and external national homelands.


Andrew Dodd, St Andrews

The Return of the Nation-State? German Political Culture in Transition, 1985-1998 

Recent historiography has convincingly argued that in the 1980s the Federal Republic of Germany had undergone a process of “self-recognition”, moving past its old self-conception as a partial, provisional state with increasing confidence and fashioning a post-national identity. Then, in 1989/90, the Federal Republic opted for a quick and complete national reunification. The conflict between these two developments lays at the centre of the study: just how far beneath the surface did ‘the nation’ lurk?

The study aims to shed further light on this complex and critical era in German history by moving beyond a recounting of political developments and intellectual debates and examining the media reception of these very same problems and debates. To what degree was this “post-national consensus” a reality outside of elite intellectual circles in the wider public consciousness? When the potential and eventual reality of reunification emerged, what were the anticipations and expectations? What was the reception of alternative views to the process of national reunification as it occurred? How were the realities of the reunified German nation-state received in the years following and what changes in self-conception did the “return of the nation-state” bring? Overarching themes include the role played by generation in changing identities, the idea of a “return to normality”, the position of media as both mirror and shaper of public opinion, and the perception of 1989/90 as a a decisive caesura between a “Bonn Republic” and a “Berlin Republic”.


Franziska Hilfiker, Basel

Perception and representation of the sea around 1600 

In the course of the expanding movement, which emanated from the European ports around 1600, various travel accounts and ship logs originated, where the encounter with the ocean, and the accomplishment of the maritime passages were described. In my PhD-project I am interested in the categories of ‚perception’ and ‚representation’ of the ocean – or more specifically: of different sea spaces/spots. How were these different maritime spaces – for which also different qualities and modes of experience can be assumed – perceived? How were they integrated as specific spaces of meaning (Bedeutungsräume) into the various medias resulting from the context of the voyages? I am also interested in the linguistic and graphical means by which the sea was described, and the question, how, by reason of its fluidity, a space so intrinsically unseizable could be communicated to a mostly ‚sea-inexperienced’ audience. Besides investigating how the physical encounter with the maritime in travelogues and logbooks was noted, a specific interest of this project lies in the notion of the sea as space of imagination and projection. It will be analyzed how constructions of sea spaces made in the forefront of expeditions were woven into narratives written during the voyages, and what impact this oscillation of sea-experience and sea-imagination had in the narrative structures of the travel accounts. The main sources of my project are travel accounts and logbooks of European seafarers who were at sea between c.1550-c.1650. Beyond that, other sorts of sources will be examined: pre-expedition promotional writings, instructions for the voyagers, navigation manuals, hydrographical writings, sketches which were drawn during the voyages, woodcuts and copper plates following the narratives in the printed editions of the travelogues, as well as cartographical material.

Keywords: Renaissance and Early Modern History, History of the early
European expansion, Perception and representation of space, Travel Literature, Cartographie, Cultural history, Atlantic World in the 16th and 17th century, Maritime History, Colonial History, History of Life at sea in the early modern period


Fabian Link, Basel   

History of Castle Research in Nazi Germany                                                      

Since its emergence around the mid-nineteenth century, castle studies were strongly connected with a national-conservative mindset. Scholars and members of gentleman’s clubs researched the medieval fortresses, often in the service of nationalist politics. Until the 1930s, this scientific practice was not institutionalized academically and a standardized method of research was not developed. Instead, art historians and archeologists researched castles independently. As with those in the fields of prehistoric archeology and folklore studies, castle researchers most likely solicited resources from Nazi politicians to boost their research field. In this dissertation, I research individual actors and their career trajectories in the context of the structural development of castle research in the scientific field.

Keywords: Intellectual History in European and Transatlantic Perspective, History of Science and the Humanities


Ivo Mijnssen, Basel                                                    

Life in the Hero City: The post-War Generation in the Brezhnev Era

This dissertation project deals with the post-war generation’s appropriation of memories of the Great Patriotic War in the Soviet Union of the Brezhnev era (1964-1982). It investigates the places and social practices through which an official war narrative was conveyed in selected «hero cities» and became part of the everyday experience of the post-War generation. As powerful symbols of the war, «hero cities» facilitate an investigation of everyday life in the Brezhnev-era between Soviet patriotism and urban life. Through its combination of social history and memory studies, this dissertation contributes to a better understanding of socialization processes in Soviet society.

Key words: Soviet Union, Brezhnev era, Great Patriotic War, Memory studies, Patriotic education, Social history, Thick description, Discourse analysis, Lebenswelt, Soviet patriotism, Politics of history


Marie Ventura, St Andrews

Like Clockwork: The Development of the Modern Perception of Time in Industrial Britain (1753-1914)

The story of time and temporal perception flows through modern history like a subconscious current, always present yet rarely addressed as a topic in and of itself.  Instead, it has been studied piecemeal, across a spectrum of disciplines for a variety of purposes.  As a result, the history of the development of our modern understanding of time piggybacks rather than propels most studies of British society since the start of the Industrial Revolution.

This study aims to integrate the scattered story of Britain’s 19th Century temporal revolution into a cohesive analysis.  The gradual evolution of modern temporal perception is the overarching theme, pinned down at key transitional points by case studies: for example, the influence of the maritime chronometer.  Each case is a lens, revealing catalysts that promoted the internalization of abstract, measured time.

Spurred by scientific study, empire, economic competition, and the propagation of mechanical clocks, industrial time trickled through the classes, riding trains to rural areas until it saturated the perceptions of every British citizen.  By 1914, the world largely ran on standard time, based at Greenwich Observatory, London.  The changing perception of time in industrial Britain is, therefore, a world-embracing subject, making this study a relevant contribution to modern history.

Key words: Industrialisation, time, secularisation, scales, Britain, local, global history



The Snake Motif in German Literary Romanticism



German Literature in Bohemia 1800-1850: Life and Works of Wolfgang  Adolf Gerle


2 responses to “PhD Researchers

  1. Hi there friends, nice piece of writing and pleasant
    urging commented here, I am genuinely enjoying by these.

  2. Hi there! This post could not be written any better!

    Reading this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept chatting about this.
    I will forward this post to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read.
    Many thanks for sharing!