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.

June 2012
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12-13 June
Working Group Teleology and History, 5. meeting in Hambacher Schloss

The fifth and last meeting of the Working Group "Teleology and History: A Criticial Assessment of an Enlightenment Thought", organized by Dipesh Chakrabarty, Henning Trüper and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, has taken place 12-13 June 2012, at the Hambacher Schloss in Neustadt/Weinstrasse, Germany.

The workshop began with a concise introduction into the history of the Hambacher Schloss by Volker Sellin. The Castle had been chosen as a venue for the concluding meeting of the Working Group because of its importance as a lieu de mémoire of the liberal movement and the making of 19th-century revolutionary politics in the Germanies during the so-called Vormärz period preceding the revolution of 1848.

The conference focused on the relations between historical teleology and ideas of nature in the 19th century. A broad range of intellectual histories was covered (papers by Angus Nicholls, Marianne Sommer, and Karuna Mantena), often yielding surprising and far-reaching insights into the gradual transitions that existed, in the 19th century, between teleological understandings of nature and of history. Darwinian evolution constituted a watershed, yet remained narrowly involved in a teleological understanding of human natural history, in the form of a parcours of civilizational stages. Communication among the emerging social sciences, national economy, and the natural sciences was and remained vivid. In spite of much methodological rhetoric seeking to categorically distinguish the humanities and the sciences, teleologies persisted on, and communicated from, both sides of the divide. Dipesh Chakrabarty's incisive analysis of the changes to which the modern regime of historicity is subjected by current discursive shifts around climate change and the newly acquired geological agency of humans highlighted overlooked characteristics of 19th-century historicity. Bo Stråth's thoughtful examination of the prospects of overcoming historical teleology with the toolset of late 20th-century historical theory provided an illuminating counterpoint to the argument. Two further contributions (Tony Anghie, Carola Dietze) continued threads from previous meetings (international law, political projects) that allowed for instructive comparisons and contrasts with the main theme of the workshop and also contributed greatly to maintaining the thematic unity of the series as a whole.

15 June

Final meeting, CLOSED SESSION