Academic Background: I have a master’s degree in political science and Czech studies from 1989 and finished my PhD on Czech nineteenth century history in 1994, all at Aarhus University.
My research in a nutshell: Over the years, I have oscillated between three key research interests: nineteenth century and early twentieth history with a special focus on nationalism and national identity in a multinational state (concretely: Czechs in the Habsburg Empire; interwar Czechoslovakia); dissidence, grey zones, culture, and law in Communist Czechoslovakia; and last but not necessarily least: ideas of Europe and Europeanness with a special focus on mental mappings of and discourses about ‘Central’ and ‘Eastern’ Europe, including the ways in which dubious West-East dichotomies permeate nationalism theory. Borders (discursive and political) also have my keen interest.
What is your favorite place in Europe and why? I never tire of Prague. It is a beautiful city where I feel very much at home while also constantly discovering new and surprising places. I have many friends there, Prague is great for walking, a joy for the eye, and the beer is excellent!
Academic Background: I have a BA and MA in History and Social Science from Aarhus University. During my studies, I became increasingly interesting in the field of digital humanities and the ways that computational and quantitative methods can aid traditional humanities research, so as a way to get out of the dusty archives, I decided to learn coding on the side. This, combined with my other long-standing interest in far-right online communities and their use of history, eventually culminated in my current PhD project.
My research in a nutshell: I research memory and the use of history in far-right online communities. In my PhD project, I specifically look at a chat forum called 4chan’s /pol/, where I try to understand how users engage with and utilize history in their processes of identity and community formation. Partly due to the nature and magnitude of my empirical data, I rely on a mix of traditional close reading methods as well as more data-intensive methods such as statistical analysis, machine learning, algorithmic topic modelling, and other techniques from the fields of digital humanities and natural language processing. This approach allows me a multifocal view into an otherwise chaotic, disordered, and amorphous online far-right community.
Who is your favorite ‘Global Thinker’ and why? I try not to have ‘favorites’ of too many things, since people, tastes and opinions necessarily change over time, and I think it’s important to always have a dynamic and evolving view of the world. However, for good and bad, I can’t help but be inspired by technologists and entrepreneurs like the late Aaron Swartz (co-developer of Reddit) and to some extent Christopher Poole (creator of 4chan) for their ideas about the Internet as an open information system, more or less detached from government and moral policing, where a true global democratic populace can ideally come together, collaborate, share ideas, be creative, and audit the powers that be. While such cyber-utopianist convictions might not stand up well against the reality of today’s Internet, I do still think that such basic debates around privacy, anonymity, freedom of expression, and access to information are important, as we undoubtedly continue to drift towards ever-increasing global connectivity.
Academic Background: I hold a B.A. in Media and Communication Studies and Political Science from Freie Universität Berlin (Germany) and a M.A. in European Studies from Aarhus University. During my B.A. degree I focused on topics and questions related to political communication in Germany and (Northern) Europe while during my M.A. studies I became interested in questions about national identities, memory and the rise of illiberalism and authoritarianism in Europe.
My research in a nutshell: I am mainly interested in far-right populism, right-wing extremism and questions that focus on how (national) belonging and identity as well as exclusionary politics are re-produced through collective memory and affects. Furthermore, I am interested in the connection between the surge of far-right actors, movements and parties and what is commonly referred to as ‘mainstream’ hegemonic discourses and socio-cultural orders in Germany and Europe. In my PhD project I am looking at the German far-right party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) challenges Germany’s post-Holocaust memory culture and mobilizes range of different feelings, thus offering potential voters and supporters an alternative, ethno-nationalist way of being German.
If you would not be a researcher, what do you think would be your profession today and why? If a career in research does not work out, I have a Plan B: Opening a small Café that sells simple (but yummy!) food and drinks and establishes itself as venue for small art exhibitions, political discussion and cultural events etc. because I like the idea of creating a place where people can meet each other in a comfortable and safe environment and exchange ideas, opinions and perspectives. As a special feature I would have my grandmother’s old Trabant, refurbished as a small food-truck in front of the door to sell vegetarian Bratwurst and Sauerkraut, Falafel and Pumpkin Soup.