Karen Lauwers
  • Unioninkatu 38 (room A107), PL 59

    00014 University of Helsinki



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Personal profile

Curriculum vitae

I am a postdoctoral researcher affiliated with the University of Helsinki’s Department of Cultures and its European Area and Cultural Studies unit, since 1 September 2019. Until 31 August 2022, I worked on the French-Algerian axis of Josephine Hoegaerts’ ERC-project CALLIOPE (“Vocal Articulations of Parliamentary Identity and Empire”). Trained as a historian of Political Culture & National Identities in the Low Countries (MA, Leiden University) and modern French political history (PhD, University of Antwerp), I have a broad interest in Western European parliamentary cultures and colonial history, intersectional identities, narratives of inclusion and exclusion, and thus of (incomplete) democracy, representation, and citizenship in the 19th and 20th centuries. My methodologies include analyses of political discourse and performance, from textual to embodied expressions and the sensory experiences they evoked. While my passion for research into political communication, negotiations, and (non-violent practices of) resistance has not changed, I have been moving my interest, since the publication of my monograph (Ordinary Citizens and the French Third Republic) in 2022, towards the methodological crossroads between microhistory and conceptual history. By following individual stories emerging before, travelling within, and going beyond national borders, I am pursuing a better understanding of France’s Third and Fourth Republican dynamics of empire.

More concretely, my current postdoc project, funded by the Academy of Finland (2022-2025), investigates petitions sent by or on behalf of native and European inhabitants of Algeria to the French Lower House from 1870 to 1958. Although these textual sources had clearly been subject to formal requirements, imposed by rules and regulations of a specific national legislative institution, they are surprisingly informative of the transnational cultural and spatial contexts that remolded the French practice of petitioning, until it was almost primarily used by (a specific part of) the Muslim population in Algeria. I am particularly fascinated by the key role, in this hybrid politico-cultural context, of the so-called Moorish cafés (cafés maures). 

(Find my full CV here.)

Research interests

Western European political culture between microhistory and global history (19th-20th centuries); parliamentary culture(s); formal and informal political communication and interactions; political discourse and performance; history of democracy, representation and citizenship; political concepts and conceptual history; philosophy and theory of history; modern French history; French imperial and colonial history; women's and gender studies; history of petitions; subaltern political knowledge; resistance from below and from within institutional frameworks; history of experience, emotions, sense(s) and nonsense

Education information


  • PhD of History (University of Antwerp, 2019)
  • MA in History: Political Culture and National Identities in the Low Countries (Leiden University, 2014)
  • MA in History (University of Antwerp, 2013)
  • Pedagogical BA-degree in Secondary School Teaching of History, French as a Foreign Language, and Biology (Karel de Grote College, Antwerp, 2009)

Teaching responsibilities in 2023-2024

  • AUTUMN: History and Memory (self-study package for MA-students in History and Area & Cultural Studies)
  • SPRING: Political Culture, Communication and Transfer in Western Europe (reading and discussion group; classroom teaching for MA-students in Area & Cultural Studies)

Education/Academic qualification

History, PhD, University of Antwerp

Award Date: 14 Feb 2019

Fields of Science

  • 615 History and Archaeology
  • Political History
  • Political Culture
  • Colonial History
  • French-Algerian History and Culture
  • History from Below
  • History of Petitions
  • French Imperial History
  • Political Communication
  • Parliamentary History
  • Political Identities
  • History of Democracy
  • Conceptual History
  • History of Ideas
  • European Studies
  • Philosophy of history
  • 6160 Other humanities
  • European Area and Cultural Studies

International and National Collaboration

Publications and projects within past five years.