Dr. M.K. (Monika) Baár

  • University Lecturer
  • Modern and Contemporary History

Telephone number: +31 (0)71 527 8980
E-Mail: m.k.baar@hum.leidenuniv.nl
Faculty / Department: Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen, Institute for History, Algemene Geschiedenis
Office Address: Johan Huizingagebouw
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden
Room number 2.03b
Telephone number: +31 (0)71 527 8980
E-Mail: m.k.baar@hum.leidenuniv.nl
Faculty / Department: Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen, Institute for History, Algemene Geschiedenis
Office Address: Johan Huizingagebouw
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden
Room number 2.03b

Fields of interest

Historiography, cultural history and the history of political thought since the eighteenth century to the present, with special attention to Central and Eastern Europe and to the trajectories of small cultures; comparative and transnational history

Marginality, inequality and vulnerability as theoretical and as empirical problems

Disability studies (including both social policy and the grassroots movements of disabled citizens), conceptualizations of disability in ‘Western’ and ‘non-Western’ cultures, human rights discourses, knowledge transfer between international organizations, medical humanities, history of the senses

History of the human-animal-machine nexus, posthumanism, the history of animals with special attention to the history of guide dogs for the blind


1. My interest in comparative historiography resulted in the book Historians and Nationalism: East-Central Europe in the Nineteenth Century, which was published by Oxford University Press in 2010. Between 2008 and 2013 I was core member in the ERC-funded collaborative research project ‘Negotiating Modernity: the History of Political Thought in East-Central Europe’. A two-volume book emerging from this project is forthcoming from Oxford University Press. Its main innovation is that it seeks to contribute to the emergence of a truly European perspective of intellectual history by breaking the essentialist duality of Western ‘core’ and Eastern ‘periphery’.

2. Rethinking Disability: the Impact of the International Year of Disabled Persons (1981) in Global Perspective –this project is funded by an ERC Consolidator Grant and studies the far-reaching political, societal and cultural implications of an event that has been entirely overlooked in mainstream history. It aims to think afresh about disability by examining the meanings people in various parts of the world assign to the concept. More information on this project is available at: www.hum.leiden.edu/history/research/projects-pcni/erc-rethinking-disability.html

3. Human/Animal Studies: The History of Guide Dogs for the Blind (supported by a Wellcome Trust Medical Humanities Small Grant)
This project traces the history of the guide dogs for the blind (in the USA also known as seeing-eye dogs) and also reflects on their status in contemporary society. Its theoretical contribution addresses the very special human-animal partnership which exists between guide dogs and their owners; one which is based on mutual trust and represents the highest degree of cooperation known between animal and man. The project argues that the establishment of professional guide dog training in Germany in 1916, in response to the mobility needs of blinded veterans, placed the human-animal bond onto a new ground. Following their success in Germany, guide dogs were introduced in numerous other countries in Europe, North America and more recently in other countries and regions (for example in South Africa, Israel, Japan, China). This often required significant changes to the original idea. Rather than focusing on the guide dogs in a narrow perspective, the research uses their ‘story’ as a highly unusual vantage point, through which new insights can be gained into disciplines that are rarely studied together: the history of the animal-human bond, disability studies, history of philanthropy, history of animal science, history of emotions, media studies and robotics. The first outcome of this project was published in the journal First World War Studies: www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19475020.2015.1047890

Teaching activities

My teaching repertoire includes a broad spectrum of courses in cultural, political and social history as well as on research methodology. Before joining Leiden University, I taught courses at King’s College in London, Essex University, Free University Berlin and Groningen University. I developed special subjects on the history of East-Central Europe and on the history of animals. At the University of Groningen I taught on the University’s excellence program, the Honours College and I was founding member of the University College, where I contributed to the Exploring Humanities module of the BA/BSc degree in Liberal Arts& Sciences.
In 2014 I was involved in an Erasmus collaboration with the Osteuropa Institut, Freie Universität, Berlin, on the course Sommer in Sozialismus: Ost-West Kontakte im Kontext von Diktatur, Dissens und Alltag, which also included a study trip to Prague, Budapest, the Lake Balaton, Sopron and Vienna.
I am member of the Education Programme Committee of the Huizinga Institute (Research Institute and Graduate School for Cultural History, Amsterdam) and I organized the Huizinga Institute’s Summer School in 2015: Legacies of Johan Huizinga: Cultural History, Material Culture and Biography.
In 2014 I was recipient of the 3rd European Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Social Sciences and Humanities and the accompanying Diener Prize, which was awarded by the Center for Teaching and Learning of the Central European University, Budapest.

Curriculum vitae

I completed my undergraduate studies in History, Literature and Linguistics at Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) in Budapest and received MA degrees in History from the Central European University, Budapest and from the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, London. During my undergraduate years I spent one semester at the University of Vilnius with a Peregrinatio scholarship of ELTE and another one with the scholarship of Aktion Österreich-Ungarn at the University of Vienna. I was awarded my doctorate in Modern History by the University of Oxford in 2002 and subsequently held a two-year Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin and a two-year Teaching Fellowship at the University of Essex. I also held fellowships at the Centro Incontri Umani, Ascona (Switzerland), the Free University Berlin, Institute for Advanced Study in Edinburgh, Collegium Budapest and the National Humanities Centre, Canberra. Before joining the Institute for History in Leiden I was Rosalind Franklin Fellow at the University of Groningen between 2009 and 2015.

Key publications


Historians and Nationalism: East-Central Europe in the Nineteenth Century, Oxford Historical Monographs, Oxford University Press, 2010, 352 pages, paperback edition in 2013 www.oup.com/uk/catalogue/?ci=9780199581184
available also on Oxford Scholarship Online: www.oxfordscholarship.com

Co-authored book

B. Trencsényi, M. Janowski, M. Baár, M. Falina, M. Kopeček,
‘A History of Political Thought in East-Central Europe’, two-volume book of 600 000 words,
Volume I.
Negotiating Modernity in the ‘Long Nineteenth Century’, 720 pps., forthcoming from Oxford University Press in February, 2016:
Volume II. ‘Negotiating Modernity in the Twentieth Century’, forthcoming in 2017.

Articles and book chapters

‘Prosthesis for the Body and for the Soul: the Origins of Guide Dog Provision in Interwar Germany’, First World War Studies, special issue on Commemorating the Disabled Soldier, Vol. 6:1 (2015), 81-98.
Free access: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19475020.2015.1047890#abstract

‘Disability and Civil Courage under State Socialism: the Scandal about the Hungarian Guide Dog School’, Past and Present in 227:1 (May, 2015), 179-203.

‘Echoes of the Social Contract in Central and Eastern Europe, 1770-1825’, in Avi Lifschitz (ed.), Engaging with Rousseau: Reception and Interpretations from the Eighteenth Century to the Present, Cambridge University Press, forthcoming in summer, 2016.

‘‘The European Disability ‘Revolts’ of 1980/81: How Were They Related to the Youth Revolts?’’, in Knud Andersen and Bart van der Steen (eds.), A European Youth Revolt in 1980/81?, forthcoming in January 2016 from Palgrave Macmillan.

Survey article on ‘history writing’, Encyclopaedia of Romantic Nationalism in Europe (editor Joep Leerssen): http://romanticnationalism.net
Printed version forthcoming from Amsterdam University Press in 2016.

‘Academic Competitions in National History’, in Ilaria Porciani and Jo Tollebeek (eds.) Writing the Nation. Vol. II. Institutions, Networks and Communities of National History: Comparative Approaches, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012, pp. 165-182.

‘Heretics into National Heroes: Jules Michelet’s Joan of Arc and František Palacký’s John Hus’, in Stefan Berger and Chris Lorenz (eds.) Nationalizing the Past. Historians as Nationbuilders in Modern Europe, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, pp. 128-148.

‘East-Central European Historical Writing’, Chapter 19 in Volume 4, The Oxford History of Historical Writing (general editor Daniel Woolf), Oxford University Press, 2011, pp. 326-348.

‘Abraham Viskaski, the Patriarch of the Ruritanian Nation’. Wie es eigentlich nicht gewesen’, Storia della Storiografia/History of Historiography 54 (2008), pp. 3-20.

Last Modified: 16-02-2016