Alumni of the Month, September 2022: Peter Holquist and Emilia Mataix Ferrándiz

How do HCAS fellows experience the Collegium, and what is the impact of the Collegium fellowship on their research and careers? The September 2022 edition of the HCAS Alumni Gallery features Peter Holquist and Emilia Mataix Ferrándiz.
Peter Holquist

I am the Ronald S. Lauder Endowed Term Associate Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania. I was a Core Fellow in Fall 2018. During my term at the Collegium, I was investigating the role of imperial Russia in codifying and extending the laws and customs of war over the period from 1868-1917. 

My project focuses on how Russian imperial efforts to codify the laws of war emerged within a broader, pan-European codification project. The Collegium was crucial in two fundamental aspects. First, in terms of research, I was able to work with the National Library of Finland’s unparalleled Slavonic Library and associated collections. The freedom to browse nineteenth-century Russian journals on the stacks was an absolute joy!  

But even more profoundly, the Collegium provided an intellectual and collegial community for sharing my research and engaging a wide range of scholarly viewpoints. My project seeks to reach out beyond the circle of Russia specialists and historians – and the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Study provided a warm, challenging, and productive environment for developing my work. I remember my time at the Collegium with real warmth and fondness – for the intellectual community, and for the avenues it opened to my thinking and research. 

Emilia Mataix Ferrándiz

My name is Emilia Mataix Ferrándiz. I am a Maria Zambrano fellow at the law faculty from the University of the Basque country. 

I am a mix between a legal historian specialised in Roman law and a classical archaeologist, who also specialises in epigraphy and material culture. My main interests focus on the commercial and maritime aspects of Roman culture. 

On the one hand, I have been working on the practice of shipwrecking in the Roman world, and how the legal and political understanding and management of this phenomenon affected and shaped the social and cultural landscape of the Roman world.   

On the other hand, I work in Roman trade, and I specifically aim to understand it from the focus of the people making it possible. With my research, I aim to understand commercial procedures from an anthropological point of view and thinking what do the parties in trade aimed to achieve by using certain legal mechanisms or practices. I like to connect the materiality of epigraphy of merchandise with its legal context, by shifting the focus from traditional linguistic analysis to the means by which inscribed texts were created, shaped, and used as commercial tools in the different regions of the Mediterranean. 

My time at HCAS has been decisive for my career development, as it helped me to better develop my research ideas thanks to the interdisciplinary discussions and the unique research-friendly environment of the collegium. Thanks to my period at HCAS, I have also secured strong research connections that are still the backbone of my academic networks. I would recommend this experience to anyone!