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.

March 2012
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5 March
Adrian Brisku presents the Russian part of his monograph project "The Illusory Politics of Change and Stability in the Ottoman and Russian Empires, 1815-19", with discussant, Peter Holquist University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

Brisku presented the Russian side of his comparative study, following from his presentation at the EReRe Project's Midstream Conference in October 2011, which focused on the Ottoman sections. After describing the general framework for his revised text and his plans for completion, Brisku gave the floor to Peter Holquist for commentary. Holquist, a Russian specialist, gave a very nuanced, helpful response to Brisku's draft manuscript, both in terms of sharpening its general comparative parameters and, more specifically, addressing those aspects of Russian history that would be most illuminating to emphasize within the context of an inquiry about the meaning of "empire" in the nineteenth century. He suggested that the retrospective tendency to see Russia as somehow "apart" from Europe is historically misguided; rather, Russia was not only a part of Europe, but a very successful part, at least up until the mid-nineteenth century. He raised the key comparative-analytic question of what it meant to forge a modernizing empire at that time, rather than a modernizing national "state,"and how this might bear on the Brisku's overall project and the ways in which he characterizes similarities and differences between the two empires.

Brisku appreciated Holquist's careful review of his work, and responded by describing how it would help in bringing his manuscript to completion. The floor was then opened up for general discussion and debate, with Holquist and Brisku both fielding questions about the latter's work and the issues it raised for the EReRe Project's general aim of re-evaluating the "European Century." This very interesting and intellectually stimulating session concluded on a positive and encouraging note, with acknowledgment of the importance of Brisku's study to the overall goals of the project.


6 March
14-16 Peter Holquist, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, presents his monograph on "The Role of Russian in the Development of the Laws of War in the Late 19th and Early 20th Century"

Jukka Kekkonen will comment the text.
venue: Tieteiden talo, room 313

How was it possible for an illiberal state such as the Russian Empire in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century to be at the forefront in advancing the cause of the international law in the European continent? Presenting a substantial part of his research project 'By right of War', Peter Holquist drew attention in the seminar to a growing role of the Russian Empire in extending and codifying the international law of war. Of particular importance to Holquist's assessment were the emergence of international law as a discipline in Imperial Russia and the notable influence of legal scholars in the actions of the Russian state both domestically and internationally.

Another crucial aspect of his project was to assess how these normative principles were used in particular historical cases, such as Bulgaria and Anatolia during the 1877-1878 Russo Turkish War, Manchuria during and in the aftermath of the 1900-1901 Boxer rebellion and others. For him these examples highlighted how international law became an 'indispensable part of the mental furniture of statesmen and scholars,' recognising also that the Russian government tried to circumvent the limits of the international law, as in the cases of expropriation of Jewish property in occupied Austrian Galicia and that of expulsion of Russian subjects of Muslim faith from Kars and Batumi regions.

The paradox, then, of an illiberal state, such as Imperial Russia, strongly making the case for the establishment of international law can be explained, first by doing way with the dichotomy of liberal versus illiberal states as guides in international law, and secondly, by recognising the historical contradiction in Imperial Russia whereby there was disregard for internal rule of law but great support for the idea that the relation between states should be regulated by law.

21 March

Planning for the Public Conclusion of the Project in June 2013 and the Announcement of Two New Working Groups and Three Additional Publications.

EReRe researchers met for the announcement of two new working groups, Ordering the World in the Nineteenth Century: Beyond Realism and Idealism and Property and Poverty: Perspectives on the Nineteenth-Century Social Question. The first group, Ordering the World in the Nineteenth Century seeks to offer a fresh perspective on the emergence of novel ways of thinking about the international order in nineteenth-century Europe, with a particular emphasis on investigating the discursive landscape of legal and political theory. On the other hand, the second working group, Property and Poverty, investigates the rise of the nineteenth-century 'Social Question' and its decisive impact on European political, social and economic thought. The aim of this group is to produce new perspectives on the conceptual dislocation produced by the transformative social changes of the age of industrialization. Both groups are coordinated by Thomas Hopkins and count with internationally leading scholars among their members. They will meet throughout the next two years and aim to have a book ready by the end of next year. In addition, EReRe researchers decided on a final schedule for 2013 and agreed on a third additional publications showcasing in one volume the scope and diversity of the EReRe research group.