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Research interests

My research area is 18th/19th-century cultural history and the history of knowledge, and especially the interrelation between the two. My PhD thesis (Radboud University Nijmegen, 2018) was a study of transformations in the humanities around 1800, mainly in the German, French, and English language areas. As a postdoc at KU Leuven (FWO postdoctoral fellowship, 2018-2022) I investigated the mapping of the world's languages in the long 19th century and how linguistics, philology, ethnography, and geography as well as racial theories and colonial/missionary agendas intersected in the process. 

As a postdoc in the DFG/AHRC project Global Bible: British and German Bible Societies Translating Colonialism (1800-1914), my current research is about two parallel processes of Verschriftlichung ('literization', or 'reduction to writing') in Indigenous languages: Bible translation and the registration of oral literature. My main case study is about the Maori Bible and the archive of Maori oral literature in the George Grey collections, one of the largest 19th-century collections of its kind worldwide. I compare this with other cases where missionaries introduced a new, artificial prestige register in the language and how this drew upon and/or conflicted with extant rhetorical/poetical registers.

I am coordinating investigator on the FWO Junior Research Project Languages writing History: The impact of language studies beyond linguistics (1700-1860). Other research topics that I work(ed) on include the early modern Republic of Letters and its 19th-century afterlives, historical epistemology, and the history of historical thought. I have held shorter fellowships at IZEA (University of Halle-Wittenberg), Research Centre Gotha (University of Erfurt), Vossius Centre for the History of Humanities and Sciences (University of Amsterdam), and Academia Belgica (Rome) as well as visiting positions at Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (Berlin) and Leiden University.

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