Henk Kern is University Lecturer with an expertise in Russian and Soviet history.
Leiden Russia Blog
Spreekuur / Hours
Monday 2pm - 3pm
Fields of interest
Russian and Soviet history
Henk Kern (1960) studied History at the University of Leiden, and studied Russian language while serving in military conscription. Afterwards he worked for a couple of years as a history teacher in secondary education.
In 1991 he became part-time docent for the Leiden University Russian Studies program. And besides that, since September 2000, he also works as docent for the History Department of Leiden, within the section Modern and Contemporary History.
In 2008 he has defended his dissertation on the European perception of the modernization of Russia in the time of tsar Alexander II (1855-1881).
Theme of the dissertation: 19th century Russian transition in European eyes
The subject of my PhD research at the Leiden University is the way Europeans fundamentally changed their thinking about Russia, in the period that Russia changed its internal organization and its orientation towards Western Europe under tsar Alexander II (1855-1881). His so called ‘Great Reforms’ are the starting point for an analysis of the new facts and ideas, as well as the underlying concepts and models, that were established about Russia by a whole new generation of Russia-experts in Europe.
The emancipation of Russia’s serf population, the institution of local self-government, the introduction of modern law-courts and juries, the glasnost in the press, more autonomy in education, the reorganization the army into a civilian conscript one, the publication of the national budget and the liberalization of state enterprises formed an obvious, if still incomplete, turning point in the development of the Russian state and society towards European models. This coincided with a more uncertain and tense diplomatic constellation in the European balance of power since the end of the Crimean War. These were the two basic reasons for a growing interest of Europeans in Russia.
The remarkable point is however that the individual Russia-watchers extended their visions well beyond the simple and pragmatic self-importance that was characteristic of the period before the Crimean War. August von Haxthausen, Anatole Leroy-Beaulieu, and Donald Mackenzie Wallace, as well as a dozen lesser writers, gave a much more penetrating, nuanced and explanatory image of Russia than was ever known before. In this way they laid the intellectual foundations for the modern discipline of Russian Studies. How they did this, and how relevant their observations were and still are, is the theme of my dissertation.
My Dissertation in DSpace
'Inleiding: het weerzien van Rusland en Europa', Leidschrift 24/2 (september 2009) 7-13.
‘Rusland en Europa tussen hoop en vrees’, Idee. Tijdschrift van het wetenschappelijk bureau van D66 30/1 (februari 2009) 18-21.
Denken over Rusland. Europese beschouwingen over de Grote Hervormingen (proefschrift) Pegasus Oost-Europese Studies 15 (Amsterdam 2008).
‘Oekraïne en Rusland: een spiegeling van mythen’ (recensie), Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis 121/4 (2008) 475-476.
'Op zoek naar de Russische ziel' (recensie), Mare di Libri (8 april 2004) 3.
‘De ambassade van Dobrynin, een Russische kijk op de Koude Oorlog’, Leidschrift 16/1 (2001) 63-79.
‘Rusland tussen hervorming en reactie’, Novogvardejets 8/1 (januari 2001) 18-23.
‘De Russen van Musterd’, HIC (Historische Informatie Courant) 33/3 (september 2000) 6-9; ook in: Novogvardejets 7/4 (oktober 2000) 25-27.
‘Rook en Damp. De Grote Hervormingen in Rusland, 1861-1881’, Novogvardejets 6/4 (oktober 1999) 18-22.
‘Stalins waan’, Kolokoltsjik 17 (juni 1998) 35-39.
‘De modernisering van Rusland onder Alexander II’, Kolokoltsjik 5 (september 1994) 51-56.
‘Ivan de Verschrikkelijke opnieuw onderzocht’, Kolokoltsjik 2/3 (januari 1994) 11-17. 'Privédomein of keizerrijk? Staatsvorming in het vroegmoderne Rusland’, Leidschrift 9/3 (september 1993) 75-87.
‘“Met eigen ogen aanschouwd.” Drie heren in het Rusland van Nicolaas I’, Leidschrift 5/2 (maart 1989) 47-71.