For best experience please turn on javascript and use a modern browser!
You are using a browser that is no longer supported by Microsoft. Please upgrade your browser. The site may not present itself correctly if you continue browsing.

Modern History

Modern history conventionally includes the period from the French Revolution to the most recent decades.

Nieuwste geschiedenis
Queen Beatrix at Remembrance Day, Amsterdam.

The growth of disciplinary power thus coincided with new individual and collective freedoms; a widespread belief in progress was accompanied by an equally prominent obsession with the past; European predominance soon led to anti-colonial nationalism. Such tensions and paradoxes make studying modern history fascinating in its own right as well as invaluable for understanding present-day culture, society and politics.


Modern historians at the University of Amsterdam work on crucial issues of the period from the late eighteenth century to the end of the Cold War. Their interests comprise:

  • the emergence of democracies, the rise of nationalism and the transformation of monarchies in the aftermath of the French Revolution;
  • the relations between European countries and their empires, from the high point of colonialism around 1900 to the painful process of decolonisation after 1945;
  • urban societies, especially the relationship between class, community and individuality;
  • the connections between memory and material culture.

In pursuing these interests and approaches, the historians contribute to several important debates pertaining to Dutch, German and French history. These activities continue to result in a strong presence both nationally and internationally, within the historical discipline and beyond it.


Teaching is organised thematically, addressing the crucial dimensions of European and global history, such as:

  • Enlightenment and Revolution
  • the transformations and ruptures of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries
  • the making and unmaking of states
  • the political and social consequences of ideologies (and their declining influence in recent years)
  • the European catastrophes of the twentieth century
  • the Cold War and the world since 1989

Our teaching constantly incorporates new trends in international historical research.