RMA History Blog

David van der Linden: A PhD and a monograph

David van der Linden: A PhD and a monograph

By Christian Klötzer

David van der Linden entered the RMA program in 2006 after having completed a Bachelor in Language and Cultural Studies at U Utrecht. It was there that he discovered his interest in both historical topics and conducting academic research. He graduated in 2008 and wrote his thesis on Huguenot exiles in The Hague after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685.

Having found a topic that fascinated him, and with little scholarship on the lives of ordinary refugees, he went on to write his PhD dissertation in the same field under the supervision of Prof. Wijnand Mijnhardt and Dr. Joke Spaans, both at Utrecht University. Subsequently, David became a postdoctoral researcher at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam and briefly worked at Leiden University before being awarded an NWO Rubicon Grant in 2014. The grant allowed him to join the University of Cambridge where he is currently a post-doctoral research fellow. He has also been awarded an NWO VENI Grant, which will enable him to return to the Netherlands and take a position at the University of Groningen this summer.

Earlier this year David published Experiencing Exile: Huguenot Refugees in the Dutch Republic, 1680–1700, a monograph that builds on his dissertation. The publication has received favorable reviews from some of the most eminent scholars in his field. He is currently working on a research project that looks at how the memories of the French Religious Wars in the 16th Century among Catholics and Protestants were constructed and how the conflict may have facilitated a renewed flare-up of religious violence one century later. The research will facilitate a better understanding of the events as they occurred at the time and offer lessons applicable to current-day peacebuilding efforts in societies emerging from conflict.

The RMA program here in Utrecht helped David to improve his ability to conduct academic research and familiarize himself with a topic that he has continued to work on beyond his dissertation. He acquired a wealth of knowledge from a network of staff members at UU that specialized in his field, ultimately helping him reach the point at which he could independently conduct new research in his field. The process of writing a thesis confirmed that a life in academia was indeed right for him.

David’s advice: “Writing your thesis is an excellent opportunity to see for yourself whether you like doing the kind of in-depth academic research that writing a PhD dissertation and being a scholar is all about.”