Ass.-Prof. Nadine Amsler

Professeure assistante SNF PRIMA, Université de Fribourg / Assoziierte Forscherin am Historischen Institut der Universität Bern

Abteilung für Neuere Geschichte

+41 31 684 36 55
B 013, Unitobler, Länggassstrasse 49
Universität Bern
Historisches Institut
Länggassstrasse 49
3012 Bern
Nach Vereinbarung
11/2021 Auszeichnung mit dem Theodor-Kocher-Preis der Universität Bern
7/2021– Professeure assistante en histoire moderne, Université de Fribourg.
Leiterin des SNF-PRIMA-Projekts «Early Childhood and Dynastic Reproduction at Princely Courts, 1600–1800: European and Global Perspectives»
9/2020 – 6/2021 Fellow am Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin
1 – 8/2020 Advanced Postdoc an der Abteilung für Neuere Geschichte, Universität Bern
9 – 12/2019 Chargée de cours, Universität Fribourg
7/2018 – 12/2019 Early Postdoc.Mobility-Stipendiatin des Schweizerischen Nationalfonds an der Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt a.M.
7/2017 – 6/2018 Oberassistentin an der Abteilung für Neuere Geschichte, Universität Bern
10/2015 – 6/2017 Assistentin an der Abteilung für Neuere Geschichte, Universität Bern
9/2015 Promotion an den Universitäten Bern und Freiburg i. Br. mit der Arbeit „The Lord of Heaven in the Inner Chambers: Jesuits, Women, and Domestic Christianity in China (ca. 1580-1690)“
9/2014 – 8/2015 Assoziierte Forscherin an der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
2/2011 – 7/2011 Wissenschaftliches Mitglied am Istituto Svizzero di Roma
1/2011 – 3/2014 Mitarbeiterin des SNF-Projekts Gender and Religion in Cultural Exchange: Norms and Practices in Chinese Christianity, 1583–1724
10/2009 – 9/2015 Doktorandin und Assistentin an der Abteilung für Neuere Geschichte, Universität Bern
10/2003 – 9/2009 Studium der Religionswissenschaft, der Geschichte und der chinesischen Sprache an der Universität Bern, der Freien Universität Berlin, der École Pratique des Hautes Études  und der Beijing Language and Culture University
  • Eurasische Verflechtungsgeschichte und Geschichte des chinesisch-europäischen Kulturkontakts
  • Dynastie- und Hofgeschichte
  • Geschichte des Katholizismus in globaler Perspektive
  • Geschichte der Kindheit
  • Körper- und Geschlechtergeschichte

SNF-PRIMA-Projekt «Early Childhood and Dynastic Reproduction at Princely Courts, 1600–1800: European and Global Perspectives» 
(Laufzeit: 2021–2026)

Dynastic rule was the most widespread form of political organization in the world well into the nineteenth century. However, dynasties had one major weak point: their continuity depended on (usually male) offspring. Recent comparative studies have shown that this problem was especially acute for European dynasties because of the importance they placed on the Christian principle of monogamy. Together with the high infant mortality rates in all strata of early modern societies, this made children a highly precious asset. This project analyzes practices and representations connected with the problem of early childhood and dynastic reproduction – i.e., the practices that aimed at providing for numerous and healthy legitimate offspring in order to reiterate the dynastic line – during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Europe and on a global scale.

The project is divided into three sub-projects (P1–P3). P1 is an in-depth, archive-based study of early childhood and dynastic reproduction at German courts. It analyzes patterns of care and status interaction in princely nurseries, representations and performances of kinship, early education and health, and the impact of relationships with princely children on courtiers’ later careers at the courts of Vienna, Munich, and Stuttgart. P2 studies the representations of dynastic reproduction found in European reports on Eurasian princely courts. It investigates how local knowledge and European semantics merged in descriptions of dynastic reproduction at the courts of late Ming and Qing China, the Ottoman empire, and late Rurik and Romanov Russia. P3 is a comparative analysis of patterns of dynastic reproduction in Eurasia that relies on the results of P1 and P2 and on the expertise of other scholars.

By combining different methodological approaches – archival research, analysis of early modern travel reports, and a comparative analysis – this project illuminates dynastic reproduction as a key element of early modern dynasticism. Furthermore, as it sheds new light on early childhood at princely courts, it also contributes to the history of children in the pre-modern world.

Wet Nurses at Princely Courts
Dynastic Reproduction and Milk Relationships

Postdoctoral research project

Children were a precious asset for pre-modern dynasties because they ensured the ruling family’s continuity. During the first one or two years of their lives, they were breastfed by wet nurses. These women were usually of low social origins, but lived in close proximity to the princely children. I take wet nurses as a starting point for rethinking conceptualizations and practices of kinship at dynastic centers. I do so by exploring “milk relationships”, i.e., relationships between wet nurses and nurslings or children nursed by the same woman. These relationships were described by contemporaries in terms of kinship and formed an important, yet largely unstudied resource for social prestige. I explore the meanings and effects of milk relationships at princely courts by investigating practices of lactation, the organization of childcare, and wet nurses’ social networks.

Funded by an “Anschubfinanzierung” of the Department of History of the University of Bern (1 January – 30 June 2018), by an SNSF Early Postdoc.Mobility Fellowship (1 July 2018 – 31 December 2019), and a Fellowship of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (1 September 2020 – 30 June 2021).

The king-to-be Louis XIV in the arms of his wet nurse Elisabeth Ancel.
2021 Theodor Kocher-Preis der Universität Bern
2016 Auszeichnung der Dissertation mit dem Hedwig-Hintze-Preis des Verbands der Historiker und Historikerinnen Deutschlands
  Auszeichnung der Dissertation mit dem Fakultätspreis der Philosophisch-historischen Fakultät der Universität Bern
  Auszeichnung der Dissertation mit dem Barbara-Lischetti-Preis für Geschlechterforschung der Universität Bern
2015 Auszeichnung der Dissertation mit dem  Institutspreis des Historischen Instituts der Universität Bern