Universiteit Leiden

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Austrian Studies Fund

IX Annual Convention, Austria Center Olomouc, Czech Republic, 2015

Impressions by Quinten Somsen – PhD Student at Leiden University. Project: Monarchy in Turmoil. Rulers, Courts and Politics in The Netherlands and Germany, C.1780 – C.1820. 

As a research master student in Leiden, I had the opportunity to participate in the annual convention of the Austrian and Central European Centres of 2015, which took place in Olomouc in the Czech Republic. The annual convention is a getting together of the eight centres from: Vienna, Budapest, Olomouc, New Orleans, Minneapolis, Edmonton, Jerusalem, and Leiden that are dedicated to the study of Central European history, culture, and politics. It is a huge initiative supported by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science, and Research, which brings together a versatile group of international scholars and student. The papers presented in Olomouc dealt with a diverse range of topics: Austrian Immigrant communities in the United States, the visual legacy of Austria’s Anschluss in 1938, contemporary party politics in the Czech Republic, the work of Max Zweig, and much more. The convention is a valuable opportunity for young research master- and PhD-students to gain experience in presenting their research for an international academic audience and get constructive feedback from specialists in the field.

For me personally, the convention was an important first step in an international academic environment and I would recommend it to all students with research ambitions. My topic fitted within the purview of the Central European Centres and the convention enabled me to meet historians with similar interests. The history of the Holy Roman Empire – my field of interest – is rarely discussed among Dutch scholars, but the historians I met in Olomouc showed great interest. The informal exchange during the convention turned out to be just as stimulating as the direct comments on my presentation and it strengthened my ambition to do further research. Moreover, I learned what it is to present and discuss my research for an international audience and it gave me the opportunity to publish my first article in the convention’s bundle. This experience, no doubt, played an important part in me getting my current PhD-position.

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