Patricia Hertel | Researcher
Patricia Hertel is a historian for nineteenth and twentieth century Europe with a focus on transnational history and cultural history. One ongoing research project examines tourism to the Western European dictatorships (habilitation thesis, submitted in December 2022); another deals with the cultural and global history of air travel during the twentieth century.
After a training as a publishing manager, she studied German Philology, History, and Portuguese Philology at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. Parallel to her university studies, she trained as a journalist and did freelance work for the press and radio.
She concluded her doctoral studies at the University of Fribourg (Switzerland) with a PhD thesis entitled The Crescent Remembered: Islam and Nationalism on the Iberian Peninsula before going on to hold the position of postdoc researcher at the University of Basel. With the support of an Advanced Postdoc.Mobility Fellowship from the Swiss National Science Foundation, she has been a visiting scholar at King’s College London, the German Historical Institute London, the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, and the Universitat de València.
Currently, she is writing her second monograph Europe’s Favourite Dictatorships: Southern Authoritarianism, Tourism, and the “Free West,” 1945–1975. As a lecturer at the universities of Basel, Lucerne, Fribourg (Switzerland), and St. Gallen, she teaches modern and contemporary European history, as well as academic history writing.
European history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, especially:
- History of tourism, travel, and mobility
- History of international relations
- Nations and nationalism
- Dictatorships and authoritarian regimes
- Spatial concepts and ideas, “mental mapping
Air Travel and the Transformation of the Modern Business World, 1920s–1990s
The possibility of travelling by air profoundly changed the way the world does business. Being able to cover longer distances in shorter times altered workflows in production and distribution for international corporations as well as the frequency, location, and length of meetings and business trips. In turn, air travel triggered new business models, and companies arose whose very existence was subject to this capability. Overall, the modern business world became increasingly dependent on air travel, with a social spectrum ranging from the lowly sales representatives of medium-sized companies to a cosmopolitan elite eventually becoming what sociologist Richard Senett has described as “Davos Men”. This project analyses how air travel, along with modern communication technologies, transformed international business relations and milieus. Air travel for professional purposes was, as the project argues, an important factor for creating and distinguishing a new type of middle and upper class in Europe and beyond, and created dynamics both of connections between groups of people as well as the marginalisation of others. Studying the practices and conventions around air travel in business relations fosters a better understanding of how mobility affected companies, business leaders, and employees—in short, the twentieth-century business world—beyond overly simplistic catchwords like “acceleration” or “globalisation”.