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 (minna.vainio[at] is requested.

June 2011
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9-10 June 2011
Working Group Teleology and History, third meeting in Athens

On 9-10 June 2011, the Working Group "Teleology and History: A Criticial Assessment of an Enlightenment Thought", organized by Dipesh Chakrabarty, Henning Trüper and Sanjay Subrahmanyam (who newly joined as organizer), convened for its third workshop in Athens. The practice of mixing returning and new participants once again proved to be highly effective for creating a continuing exchange. There was general agreement that the meeting was very successful.

The thematic backbone of the meeting was the contention that 19th-century history, in Europe and abroad, can be regarded as a teleological history of the pursuit of grand, future-directed projects. The group explored project-making of this kind in areas as diverse as the history of international law; Christian mission; settler colonialism; Latin American notions of settling racial diversity in nation-building; the literary imagination between apocalyptic and utopian visions; and Marxist notions and projects of revolution; and the achievement of modernity as a project outside of Europe.

The general aim of the group to de-center European history by inserting it into discussions from the perspective of colonial histories was thus a prominent concern, and successfully realized.

On the whole, the project of determining clearly the conceptual underpinnings of the attempt to undertake a revision of 19th-century European history has again moved forward through the workshop. In particular, discussions highlighted the difficulty of clearly distinguishing a perspective on historical visions of the future – of the course of history being determined by human agency – from a contrasting perspective on what these imagined futures then turned out to be. Our views of what the 19th century represents are determined by what we see as its outcome in the 20th, precisely because it was so future-oriented. The 19th century is an epoch that is determined, more than others, by its goals and thus its failures.

14. June 2011
16- Wrapping up after the Athens meeting and where do we stand facing the third year of research.CLOSED MEETING