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Conference | Workshop

Workshop: What does it mean to be a politician?

Monday 27 May 2019
PCNI Seminars 2019
Johan Huizinga
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden
Conference room (2.60)

This workshop aims to explore the phenomenon of ‘the politician’ from the 18th century until present. According to the German tradition of Begriffsgeschichte a new understanding of ‘politics’ manifested itself around 1800. The politician, as a consequence, turned into a professional who operated within the context of a ‘modern’ administration. The history of what is considered ‘political’ and who is considered to be a ‘politician’ thus becomes a history of modernization.

Recently, this modernization narrative has been challenged. Political discussions and agenda setting appear to be subject to a constant process of politicization and depoliticization. This raises the question to what extent the notion of what it means to be a politician has changed over time as well. How did/do politicians adapt to new topics, political arenas, and citizens’ requests and expectations? And to what extent can we identify continuities in their tasks and appearance?

In this workshop we approach ‘the politician’ from a multidisciplinary perspective. Speakers from various disciplinary backgrounds will discuss the interaction between 1) the understanding of the politician’s task by politicians themselves, 2) the expectations of society and 3) the framework of political institutions (e.g. Parliament).


Admission is free. Because of the limited room capacity, please register before 20 May 2019 by sending an e-mail to Marieke Dwarswaard: vgassistent@hum.leidenuniv.nl.


The workshop is supported by the interdisciplinary research focus area Political Legitimacy (Leiden University) and the research track Politics, Culture and National Identities, 1789-to the Present (Leiden University, Institute for History).


13.00-13.15   Welcome, introduction Henk te Velde

The Persona of the Politician: Observations from Outside the Field 

Herman Paul | Institute for History


Images of Political-Administrative (Im-)Morality in Dutch History (1750 – 1950)

Toon Kerkhoff | Institute of Public Administration

14.15-14.30 Coffee & tea break

Educating and Being Educated: The Negotation Between Députés and Constituents, Paris 1900-1920

Marnix Beyen | Antwerp University, History Department


Political Zeal and Career Opportunities: Dutch Social Democracy before WW I

Dennis Bos & Anne Petterson | Institute for History


Was City Councillor Johanna Hendriks-Buiteman (1879-1969) a Politician? A Reflection on Female Pioneers in Dutch Local Councils’ 

Margit van der Steen | Institute for History

16.00-16.15 Break

The Modern Politician and the Authority of the Spoken Word 

Luuk van Middelaar | Institute of Public Law

16.45-17.00 Concluding remarks
17:00 Drinks


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