Amsterdam, Netherlands

Philosophy of History and the Politics of Interpretation

online course
when 9 January 2023 - 20 January 2023
language English
duration 2 weeks
credits 3 EC
fee EUR 800

This course discusses the politics of historical interpretation from the point of view of philosophy of history.
Philosophers of history from Hegel to Ankersmit and White have argued that history is closely connected to politics. One reason is that history is concerned with events that affect the socio-political order in which we live. Another is that any interpretation of the past affects the way we understand our present and, possibly, the sort of future we should strive for. Memorials and remembrance days, too, have political functions.

The call for reparation and restitution for past injustices also makes evident the close connection between history and politics. Finally, history is political in the sense that appealing to the authority of one interpretation of the past over the other is a form of exercising influence, and hence, a form of politics.

Six experts will be invited to give a lecture on a specific theme concerning the politics of historical interpretation. Think of such themes as:

- historical injustice

- the idea of progress

- (dis)utopia and history

- history as teacher of life

- history and ideology

- the politics of remembrance

- the politics of text interpretation

Experts will provide a reading list to the students (50-70 pages per lecture).

Course leader

Chiel van den Akker is a lecturer in Philosophy of History at the Department of Art and Culture, History and Antiquities at VU Amsterdam.

Target group

This online course is aimed at graduate and Ph.D. students interested in the philosophy of history.

Course aim

By the end of this course, students will have:

- acquired expert knowledge of the conceptual connections between history and politics
- strengthened their argumentative abilities
- strengthened their ability to position themselves in debates about the politics of interpretation
- the ability to detect underlying assumptions in debates

Fee info

EUR 800: -Students, PhD students and employees of VU Amsterdam: €500
-Students and PhD students: €600
-Professionals: €800
Applications received before 15 October €50 receive Early Bird Discount


We offer an Equal Access Scholarship. Find out more via