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Workshop – Cultural Associations in the Long 19th Century: Agents of Transnational (Ex)change

Date: 21 November 2018
Time: 10:00-17:00
Venue: University of Amsterdam, University Library (C0.01 – Potgieterzaal), Singel 425
Open to: scholars, PhD students, (R)MA students
Credits: none
Coordination: Dr Krisztina Lajosi (University of Amsterdam)
Maximum participants in this event: 25
Registration (before 15 November 2018)

The workshop will address the political relevance and social importance of cultural and historical societies. Most of these societies were formed in the course of the 19th century and became hubs for intellectual and political networks. Their aim was to promote knowledge, research, and education in a certain field, foster open debate, and in some cases to bolster the importance of a particular nation or region. By combining a cultural and a political agenda, these societies were important agents for social and political movements. Their activities consisted of organizing regular meetings, publishing and disseminating books and periodicals, and giving advice to local or national governments. Such associations helped to shape public opinion and strengthen the sense of collective identity, and had a major impact on the development of linguistic and artistic standards and the preservation of cultural heritage.

Some societies had a strong local influence on shaping the urban public sphere, like the many societies founded in Berlin; others, like the Historical and Literary Society founded by Polish émigrés in Paris in the 1830s, or the Spanish Tertulias in Argentina, became transnational platforms and outposts of political aspirations. Some, like the Maatschappij tot Nut van ‘t Algemeen (Society for Public Welfare) in the Netherlands, became driving forces of civil engagement and democratic reform through knowledge dissemination, while others, like the Slavic Maticas, served as bedrocks of nation-building movements. In this workshop particular attention will be paid to issues such as the dynamics among regional, national and transnational identities, the relevance of societies for the formation of collective identities, and the problem of archiving the collections of such societies in a digital age.


  • Prof. Jan Hein Furnée (Radboud University Nijmegen)
  • Dr Maartje Janse (Leiden University) (to be confirmed)
  • Dr Andreas Stynen (KU Leuven)
  • Dr Krisztina Lajosi (Universiteit van Amsterdam)

This workshop is designed as a “prelude” to the International KVNM Symposium to be held in the Paushuize in Utrecht from 22-24 November 2018 on the topic of Musicological Societies as Intermediaries between Society, Musical Life and Academia. For more information see: .

The aim of the workshop is to situate musical societies in a broader cultural and historical context, and to foster interdisciplinary awareness among PhD and Research Master students interested in sociability and cultural heritage.


  • 9:45 – Welcome & registration
  • 10:00 – Prof. Jan Hein Furneé: Leisure, Societies, and the Emergence of a Public Urban Culture
  • 11:00 – Dr Maartje Janse: Transnational Abolitionist Associations
  • 12:00 – Lunch break
  • 13:00 – Dr Andreas Stynen: Archiving Collective Memory
  • 14:00 – Dr Krisztina Lajosi: Transnational Societies and the Study of “Gypsies”
  • 15:00 – Coffee break
  • 15:20 – Roundtable discussions
  • 16:20 – Final remarks & conclusions
  • 16:30 – Drinks

Recommended readings

  • Stefan Ludwig Hoffmann, Civil society, Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2006.
  • Civil society, associations, and urban places: class, nation, and culture in nineteenth-century Europe, eds. Graeme Morton, Boudien de Vries and R.J. Morris, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006.