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Joris Oddens appointed as coordinator of Euparl network - Hoofdinhoud
In January 2012 Joris Oddens will start working as coordinator of the EuParl network. He has been appointed by the Montesquieu Institute to deepen and expand the cooperation between the EuParl network members, set up a transnational research project and organise related events. An interview with Joris Oddens.
As a PhD-candidate at the University of Amsterdam, he gained the nessecarry experience in parliamentary historical research: 'At the undergraduate level, I majored in European Studies and Dutch Language & Literature at the University of Amsterdam. During my exchange year I took a course on the history of democracy taught by Paul Ginsborg, professor of Italian History at the University of Florence. For this course I decided to study a monograph I had been meaning to read for a while, Patriots and Liberators. Revolution in the Netherlands, 1780-1813 by Simon Schama, who happened to be a former fellow student of Ginsborg's in Cambridge.
My reading of Schama and the discussion of this book with Ginsborg triggered my interest in the age of the democratic revolutions, an interest I developed further after my return to the Netherlands. Having obtained my masters in History in 2007, I was accepted as a PhD-candidate at the University of Amsterdam.'
'Since then I have been involved in the research project The First Dutch Democracy. The Political World of the Batavian Republic, 1795-1801 , funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research and led by two leading scholars in the history of the Dutch Revolution, Niek van Sas and Wyger Velema. Within this project, my own focus has been on the parliamentary assemblies of the Batavian (Dutch) Republic, on which I hope to publish a monograph in 2012.'
'As yet, no book-length study on the first Dutch parliament exists. I have therefore attempted to write a multi-faceted introduction to the topic, working within the methodological framework of parliamentary culture. My thesis will include chapters on a range of themes that are central to this approach, such as the idea of parliament itself, the nature of political representation, concepts of party and party formation, the development of deliberative practices and the self-perception of the deputies.
Moreover, I have sought to delineate the ruptures and continuities between the practices of Dutch Old Regime deliberative institutions (i.e. the Estates General and the various Provincial Estates) and those of the Batavian parliament, and I have addressed a more traditional historiographical problem, the question whether the Batavian Revolution was a reprise of the French Revolution on Dutch soil or a quintessentially Dutch phenomenon, by analysing the intellectual backgrounds of the Dutch members of parliament and tracing the political transfer of French parliamentary practices into the Batavian National Assembly.
The EuParl network stimulates comparative and transnational research. In his own research, Joris Oddens also made use of transnational and comparative research methods: 'In 2011, I have co-organized the comparative conference The Political Culture of the Sister Republics, which involved setting up a panel on the parliamentary cultures of the Dutch as well as the Italian en Swiss revolutionary republics. As far as I have been able to judge from this conference, the proceedings of these parliaments, which can be considered extraordinary source material for a number of reasons, have been as understudied in Italian and Swiss historiography as they had been until recently in the Netherlands.
Having focused until now mainly on the Dutch and French cases, I am now looking to expand my research to include the Swiss and the various Italian parliaments. To this purpose, I am currently a visiting scholar at the Royal Dutch Institute in Rome, thus far with encouraging first findings. I intend to develop this line of research further in the coming years, hoping to arrive at a first comprehensive history of what I see as one of the key moments in the development of representative bodies on the European continent.'
Main tasks as coordinator of the EuParl network
'As coordinator of EuParl, I see it as my responsibility to give the network a more permanent presence by acting as an intermediary between the different partner institutions and by representing the network when it is not together. I would like to increase the awareness, both within and outside of the academic community, of the existence of a network that constitutes a unique pool of knowledge about European parliaments past and present.
I aspire to be instrumental in finding funding that will enable the partner institutions to conduct joint research projects within the EUParl framework, and I will facilitate the organisation of the various conferences that have been envisioned, as well as the publication of the proceedings and other research output.
Finally, I want to explore the possibility of creating and moderating an encompassing online bibliography in the field of parliamentary history, as I believe that students, researchers and policy makers, who are now often steeped in their own parliamentary traditions but know much less of the traditions of neighbouring countries, could benefit greatly from easy access to the different nationally oriented historiographies that would otherwise remain unexplored.'