2020 Undergraduate Research Conference: European Identities

Friday, March 6 marked the 2020 IES Undergraduate Conference in European Studies. Organized by the Institute's team of Undergraduate Research Apprentices, this year’s conference brought together students and scholars to share their research and exchange knowledge on the theme of “European Identities: Past, Present, Future.” The conference featured presentations by eleven Berkeley undergraduates representing a wide range of academic disciplines—political science, history, anthropology, literature and cultural studies, and more.

To kick off the first panel on “Political Identities: Law and Governance,” History major Nicholas Pingitore reconsidered the 1648 Peace of Westphalia as a foundational moment in modern international relations, shedding new light on its role in the evolution of state sovereignty in Europe. Senior Mateo Montoya (Rhetoric) discussed Jacques Necker’s 1781 pamphlet Compte Rendu au Roi (Report to the King), arguing that its financial calculations represented a new rhetorical tool used by political rivals to contest each other in the public sphere. Turning to contemporary politics, Political Science junior Alexandra Von Minden investigated the environmental and climate agendas of European right-wing populist parties in the context of the 2019 European parliamentary elections. Tor Froeytvedt Dahl, a senior majoring in Political Economy, concluded the panel with an analysis of his native Norway’s paradoxical relationship with the EU and the EEA agreement.

In the second panel on “Language and Nation,” senior Evan Gong (Political Economy and German) discussed the origin and development of Central and Eastern European national identities based on the philosophy of Johann Gottfried Herder. Skylar Clark, a third-year English and Comparative Literature double major, examined how American ideals of individualism resonate in literary constructions of nation and self in 19th century European novels by Guy de Maupassant and Bolesław Prus. Victoria Struys, a junior studying Political Science, addressed the linguistic divide in Belgium in light of the Second World War and its aftermath.

“Cultural Expressions” were the focus of the third panel. First-year student Vanessa Li examined the motif of the severed head in Celtic culture and identity and its connections to classical and religious traditions. Abigail Mullin, a fourth-year double major in History and Global Studies, considered representations of female identities and family values in propaganda posters of the Spanish Civil War.

The final panel, on “European Identities, Local and Global,” began with a presentation on Gozitan identity in Malta and its connection to plant-based cuisine by Rosie Macon, a second-year undergraduate studying anthropology and education. First-year Political Science major Julie de Vaulx wrapped up the conference with an analysis of European identity in expatriates.

The Spring 2020 Undergraduate Research Apprentices are grateful to all presenters and moderators for their enthusiastic participation and support.

Click here for a complete program.