The encouragement offered by London School of Economics historian Piers Ludlow to University of Glasgow doctoral candidate Larissa Kraft was clear: in the face of mature research on European integration, early career researchers should not hesitate to mark out how their work innovates on that of the past.
In fact, the fourth edition of the Annual Graduate Conference on the History of European Integration, organised by the Alcide de Gasperi Centre for Research on European Integration (ADG) at the Historical Archives of the European Union and the Department of History at the European University Institute, provided a window both onto where junior scholars are heading in terms of research questions and methodologies, but also where they are coming from.
‘Recent transformations, especially Brexit, have greatly changed our historical present,’ explained Vice-Rector for International Affairs and Jean Monnet Professor Boglárka Koller from the National University of Public Service Budapest, who served as a panel discussant. ‘You can see this has had an impact on the approach to research on European integration.’
Support for early career academics
As Professor Emmanuel Mourlon-Druol, historian and co-Director of the ADG explained in his welcome remarks, the hallmark of the annual ADG Graduate Conference is the networking and exchange it fosters among early stage researchers, and the opportunity they have to get their work read and constructively critiqued by established academics in European integration research. ‘It is an occasion for junior and senior scholars to exchange about work in progress, to discuss methodological issues, and to address professionalization activities such as publishing and careers,’ he said.
Kira Schmidt, a doctoral candidate in History at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat Munchen, appreciated the opportunity to meet face-to-face with people who are also working on European integration. ‘After the pandemic, it’s a great experience to make an in-person presentation. The supportive input of senior scholars also helps you to be more confident about your results.’
A greater diversity of perspectives
While the Graduate Conference is in its fourth year, 2023 is the first year the endeavour had the financial support of the International Visegrad Fund (IVF), which was expressly engaged to help facilitate participation of scholars from Eastern Europe.
‘We are pleased and grateful that the IVF has contributed to the Conference. It permits the inclusion of a broader range of viewpoints, and a new mix of faces,’ commented Dieter Schlenker, Director of the Historical Archives and Co-director of the ADG.
Professor Koller, whose co-authored volume on European integration Európa utazása (Journey of Europe. History of European Integration) has just come out, expressed her satisfaction with the Conference. ‘I am very impressed, it is very international and multi-disciplinary, with very talented PhD students representing countries from all across Europe,’ she said.