New book publication, fact+fiction!

Justyna Wubs-Mrozewicz

Rumours have been circulating about an unusual publication...

We can confirm now: our sources made it to a book which combines fact and fiction: a historical detective for all aged 10-110, curious about history and archival research!

The book can be bough internationally here in the English version, and in the Polish version. It is also on sale in Poland, in both versions.

A personal story behind it by author and project PI Justyna Wubs-Mrozewicz.

Cover text:

‘Can old buildings, documents and objects, music and art take us back in time? Or, maybe, can the past and the present exist at the same time?’
If you are a reader aged 10 to 110 and you are interested in history and adventure, this book about the seven Renaissance ships is for you! It tells the remarkable tale of a group of Dutch ships which arrived in Gdańsk in 1564, and shows how their story was rediscovered in the 21st century. What secrets lie hidden in the pages of a long-forgotten court case? How do historians work in archives and why are footnotes so useful? Who were the teenagers Gabriel and Marysia? Fact and fiction, and the 16th and 21st centuries, are woven together in this book about the magical side of history.
Justyna Wubs-Mrozewicz is Associate Professor of History at the University of Amsterdam. She enjoys uncovering historical secrets of all kinds.

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History in conflict webinar: introducing the early modern edition

Justyna Wubs-Mrozewicz

Did people in premodern times understand what the past was, and were they able to engage with it or even use it to their advantage? In his influential essay Vergangene Zukunft (1968, in English as Futures Past, 1985), Reinhart Koselleck argued that the premodern (Western) understanding of the past was quite different from the modern one. The past was seen as part of a sequence of cycles in nature and lifetimes, as part of a theological framework which could not be captured by secular chronology, or as a reservoir of timeless tales which could be directly applied as lessons. Judith Pollmann (Memory in early modern Europe, 2017) has rightly pointed out that this essay was a contribution to the philosophy of history, and not an analysis of premodern social practices. She showed in her work that the engagement with the past was rich, widespread and that no sharp line can be drawn between the premodern and the modern in this respect. A complex sense of – and by extension, a sophisticated use of – the past is not only a modern phenomenon.

In our series of webinars, we use the magnifying glass of conflicts to reveal this complexity and sophistication in detail. The authors of the papers demonstrate that there was a premodern understanding of the past which could be very specific and pragmatic, for instance when pointing to the dates of business deals or riots. But there was also an understanding that the past could be perceived and narrated very differently (in accounts of quarrels),  that it could be negotiated (in diplomatic settings) or obliterated (in archives, landscapes or social customs). In our discussions, the magnifying glass is applied to primary sources in order to discuss the role the past played in conflicts. The connecting question of the webinars is ‘What happened in a conflict situation when one put references to the past – history – memory – precedent on the table?’ The enumerated temporal concepts, obviously, are not identical. Some are more fitting to a judicial context (precedent), while others are more fitting to a context where the experience of the past is key (memory). What they do have in common in the context we examine here by way of experiment is a clear function in handling the conflict. [....]

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