Thesis Title: The Alps from Natural Border to Transnational Space: Mental constructions and cross-border interactions in the Alpine region (1750-1830)
Supervisors: Dr Bernhard Struck
From 2008 to 2013 Jordan completed an MA in Communication and History at the Institute of Political Studies (“Sciences Po”) in Lyon as well as an MLitt in Modern History at the University of St Andrews. He took part in a one-year exchange programme at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in 2010-2011. Jordan focuses on the study of spaces and networks in the 18th and 19th century, with an additional focus on the perception of regions by travellers.
Jordan’s doctoral project aims at analysing the emergence of the Alps as a transnational space from 1750 to 1830. It highlights the shift operated during this period vis-à-vis the perception of mountains, firstly seen as a rigid natural border but then becoming an open, consistent space at the heart of Europe. It will address the dramatic increase of cross-border interactions within the alpine region, and will argue the emergence of a mental perception of the Alps in a non-nation-centred way. This Sattelzeit period introduced by Reinhart Koselleck, where representations and language shifted into the modern mind-set that we are nowadays familiar with, is often seen as the rise of the nation-state, and in the case of certain Western European countries such as France, that of the concept of natural borders too. To work on the Alps as a transnational space is a way to open new historical discussions around the Enlightenment and on the creation of networks in Europe and, equally, to criticise certain nation-centred assumptions. It indeed offers a further development of spatial language through the case study of the Alps. Through the study of national cartography, travel accounts and political discourse, this project carefully highlights the articulation between the transnational opportunities offered by the Alps and their appropriation by national identities and political discourse (for instance, in the Swiss identity or Napoleonic myths).