The Research Project Europe 1815-1914

P.O. Box 24
Unioninkatu 40
FI-00014 University of Helsinki




The programme is continuously updated. New events might be advertised with short notice. External participants are welcome but preferably on a regular basis. Since the number of seats is limited pre-registration with project coordinator Minna Vainio (erere-info[at] is requested.

January 2013
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19-20 Jan 2013
First meeting of the Working Group Ordering the World in the Nineteenth Century: Beyond Realism and Idealism

This meeting, the first of two, was intended to tease out some responses to the question of how we are to understand the origins of contemporary ways of thinking about how we should relate the conceptual realm of the ‘international’ to the politics of domestic social, economic and cultural transformation.  In part the hope was for a dialogue between historians of philosophy, political theory and law; but a further ambition was to reach out beyond canonical figures in the history of ideas to present a richer and geographically more varied landscape of thought on the problem.

The workshop hosted seven presentations, between them creating a broad framework for discussion to be built on at the next meeting.  Some covered the thought of canonical figures such as Hegel or Nietzsche, the first of whom was shown to have been deeply preoccupied with the possibilities opened up by maritime commerce, whilst the second was analysed as a wide-ranging theorist of ‘great politics’.  Two papers looked at reform-minded statesmen from Finland and Georgia, opposite poles of the Russian empire that threw up remarkably similar challenges to understanding the relationships of large and small nations in a context of imperial politics and emerging trade networks.  One paper addressed the vacuum in international legal thought prior to 1870; another took the case study of Swiss neutrality to ask questions about the inter-linkage between the law of nations and political and economic debates.  Finally, a paper on the pan-Europeanist, Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi, who dreamed of a united continent exploiting the resources of Europe’s African colonies to compete on the world stage, took us into the interwar period.

These papers will form the basis for the next meeting of the working group in May.