Louisa Niesen and Rashmi Shetty win thesis prize 2021
On 10 January, the winners of the annual faculty thesis prize were announced: Louisa Niesen (MA Cultural History) and Rashmi Shetty (RMA Religious Studies). They received a certificate and €500 for their outstanding achievement.
In her thesis, Louisa Niesen tests the hypothesis that German women immediately after the First World War were "modern" in their lifestyle and therefore fundamentally different from their more traditional mothers. A particularly strong aspect of this thesis is its innovative focus on women's behaviour as reported in private documents, rather than prescriptive documents that told women how to behave, as other historical studies have done. In her conclusion, Niesen shows convincingly that the contrast between traditional and modern lifestyles is much less visible in the lived experiences of women, and that the First World War was therefore not as sharp a dividing line as had been assumed by earlier historians. The jury also appreciated the clear structure, the strong writing style and the balanced conclusions of this thesis.
Rashmi Shetty's thesis examines the way in which a radical Hindu group in India uses social media, using stereotypes to evoke emotions. The media content is framed by an analysis of the penetration of social media platforms in Indian society, which reveals how a group that claims to defend traditional Hindu values gets away with mobilising the latest communication technologies. This analysis shows that the social media content of this particular group has little to do with religious beliefs, but more to do with emotions. The thesis therefore proposes that these emotional aspects of social media content be given a much greater place in our understanding of its effects, both political and religious. The jury is impressed by the originality of the approach, the interdisciplinarity of this research project, and the in-depth analysis of the media content.