Mountains without Borders – An Introduction to the Project Team

A multinational topic calls for a multinational team.

A multinational topic calls for a multinational team.


The research members of the Changing Social Representations of Political Order project embody this multinational background: Professor Ellinor Forster comes from Austria, Dr. Jonathan Singerton from Great Britain, Mag. Giovanni Merola from Italy, and Mag.a Anne-Sophie Dénoue from France.


All four bring to the table a selection of specific skills relevant to the project: Ellinor is not only a Professor in Austria History but also an expert in external territories ruled over by the Habsburg dynasty—she has most recently worked on the rule of Ferdinand III in Tuscany, Salzburg, and Würzburg. Jonathan is a historian of the Age of Revolutions with a particular twist since he is completing a book manuscript (based on his doctoral thesis) on the Habsburg Monarchy and the American Revolution. Anne-Sophie has a broad range of knowledge ranging from linguistics to the neurological effects of music and poetry. And Giovanni has studied Maria Carolina already for a number of years, especially her views on the Neapolitan reforms of the 1780s.


Giovanni also enjoys the distinction of being born in Capua, Italy—only 25km away from Naples—and, therefore, is our resident expert on all things ‘Napolitano.’ Being a native Italian speaker, Giovanni is joined by Ellinor with her competency in Italian which provides us with two robust interlocutors for the Italian literature on Maria Carolina. Likewise, the letters are written mostly in French (though sometimes also in Italian or German) but this poses no problem for us since all project members are capable of reading, transcribing, and understanding French. As a French native, however, we defer to Anne-Sophie for following the transcription guidelines as laid out by the Sorbonne, which we discuss in another blog post. And although all members of the team have a strong command of English, Jonathan makes sure to dot the i’s and cross the t’s in today’s lingua franca.


Completing an online edition of decades of correspondence and analysing it all presents us with quite a mountain to climb. Being surrounded by the scenic alpine views of Innsbruck provides us with the perfect metaphor but also reminds us that only through teamwork and shared expertise we will surely complete our ascent. There are many mountains, but none of them have borders.

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