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.

May 2011
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3 May
Geopolitics, International Law, and Social Relations in the Long 19th Century: an Encounter betweern International Relations Theory and History

This is the first in a series of three reading seminars on problems in the field of geopolitics , history and international law organised by Benno Teschke (bio), visiting fellow to the project from University of Sussex.
Pre-reading: Benno Teschke, 'Geopolitics, International Law, and Social Relations: The Intellectual Rationale'.

After a warm welcome by all members of the ERERE team, Benno Teschke began discussing general intentions behind the three-session reading seminars entitled Geopolitics, International Law, and Social Relations in the Long 19th Century: an Encounter between International Relations Theory and History, which he will run during the month of May. The seminars are intended to generate more discussions and ideas among team members, particularly around the axis of geopolitics and international law during the nineteenth-century.
Teschke regretted the fact that it was not possible to organise the events in a workshop format, as initially intended. Nonetheless, he asserted that the main question to be addressed during these seminars still remained, namely, what kind of theoretical perspectives could be developed by systematically linking history of geopolitics with social history as to account for the multi-dimensional and uneven intra-state system? He posited this question in light of his observations that the IR theory was much under historicised, whereas the debates in history were under theorised, also that IR paid great attention to the international but not to the domestic – by which he implied social relations.

As a point of departure however, he problematised a Marxist conception of the international, which accordingly was neglected by it because of a narrative of capitalism undermining national histories and it doing so it would lead towards a universal history. He insisted on concretising the international by addressing capitalistic geopolitics and particular national developments - historicising them as well as assuming their relationships pertaining a geopolitically uneven and socially combined nature. Undoubtedly, discussions followed his talk with comments and questions on the possibility of bringing social relations in, on the potential heavy reliance on economism that the 'baggage' of Marxism brings in and consequently on the unintended by still rather strong theoretical take that he maintains.

5 May
Nationalism, Populism, Charisma  and Caesarism in the 19th Century

Two papers will provide the input for the discussion from:
Iain McDaniel, University of Munich, Caesarism and Legitimacy
 John Breuilly, University College London, Nationalism and Charisma. A Problematic Connection
Venue: Porthania, P545

On May 5 the Research Project Europe held the workshop Nationalism, Populism, Charisma and Caesarism in the 19th Century to discuss the role of charisma and the langauge of classical antiquity in the legitimization of power in the 19th and early 20th century Europe. Two papers provided the input for the discussion: Iain McDaniel´s Caesarism and Legitimacy and John Breuilly´s Nationalism and Charisma. A Problematic Connection. The starting premise for the workshop was that European nation building during the 19th century has been analyzed in terms of mobilization of populations through language and symbol production as well as institutional and legal resources. However, academic research has paid less attention to the role of political leadership. And yet, during the 19th century there were several examples of strong leaders in an emerging scenario that oscillated between democratic, populist and authoritarian tendencies.

Iain Mc Daniel

Research Associate at Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, aimed to revise contemporary understandings of the clash between democratic and imperial legacies in the intellectual history of the modern state after 1789. To make sense of this new kind of leadership authors frequently referred back to classical sources not simply as a convenient foil for new forms of power but as the lens through which contemporary social and economic relations should be interpreted. Indeed, almost every serious political theorist working between 1848 and 1914 agreed that Caesarism had to be understood as a corrupt amalgam of classical conceptions of 'democratic' and 'imperial' principles in modern political life. The idea of Caesarism – or 'imperatorial democracy'– thus stood at the heart of 19th -century conceptions of sovereignty.

John Breuilly

Professor at the London School of Economics, sought to link his ideas on nationalism charismatic authority to the main themes of our project. For Breuilly it is clear that modern kinds of leadership represent a break from traditional and classical modes of authority and thus Max Weber´s sociology of domination (Herrschaftssoziologie), perhaps the most serious attempt to come to terms to forms of legitimate domination in modern societies, remain a necessary but insufficiently theorized approach. Consequently, his presentation delved in the theoretical and methodological considerations to grasp the workings of charismatic domination in the context of large-scale institutions and the progressively functional specialization of modern societies. Finally, Breuilly's commitment to reconcile methodological individualism with collective identity leads to an understanding of nationalism as a necessary complement to the development of the modern state.

10-11 May
13 -18 both days,

The International Atlantic and the Emergence of Latin American States during the 19th Century, organized by Francisco Ortega

Papers will be presented by:
Carlos Forment, Associate Proffessor, Department of Sociology, New School for Social Research, New York; Centro de Investigacion y Documentacion de la Vida Publica, Buenos
Aires. "Catholic World System and the Emergence of Democratic Forms of Life"
Javier Fernández Sebastián, Professor, Departamento de Derecho Constitucional Historia del Pensamiento y de los Movimientos Sociales y Políticos, University of the Basque Country. "The Hispanic Revolutions. Some Crucial Concepts in the Emergence of a New Political World,   1810-1830"
Mark Thurner, Associate Professor, History Department, University of Florida. “How to Write the History of the Postcolonial Americas”.
James Dunkerley, Professor in the School of Politics and International Relations, Queen Mary, University of London.
Three Atlantic Encounters”
Victor Bulmer-Thomas, Associate Fellow, Chatham House, Americas, London. “Haiti and the Dominican Republic: Economic Performance and State Power before   the US Occupations.”

Programme (pdf)

REPORT (pdf)

16 May
Geopolitics, International Law, and Social Relations in the Long 19th Century: an Encounter betweern International Relationships Theory and History. Reading seminar 2 organised by Benno Teschke (bio)

Pre-reading: Benno Teschke, 'Decisions and Indecisions. Political and Intellectual Receptions of Carl Schmitt' in: New Left Review Nr 67 Jan/Feb 2011 pp 61-95.

Benno Teschke, 16 May 2011-05-24 In the second in a series of reading seminars organized by Benno Teschke for the EReRe group, Teschke presented his recent article, 'Decisions and Indecisions: Political and Intellectual Receptions of Carl Schmitt' (New Left Review, 2011) . He began by describing the intellectual context and reasons for his continuing engagement with Schmitt and his latter-day interpreters, something that was evident from his first presentation to the group in 2010. Teschke's specific point of orientation remains contemporary international relations theory, which has been marked by resurgence of interest in Schmitt across the political spectrum.

For Teschke, the selective dissection and analysis of Schmitt's oeuvre on the part of many contemporary theorists who seek to use Schmitt's ideas in their work has served to obscure the malignant qualities of Schmitt's fundamentally anti-sociological conceptualization of the 'nomos'; a corrective to this, Teschke argued, can be achieved by close consideration of the development of Schmitt's work, and in particular its depictions of history and its concepts of decisionism, the political, and 'concrete order thinking'. Countering Schmitt's apodictic assertions with a critical-sociological analysis of these concepts and their formation, Teschke claimed, will better reveal how deeply Schmitt has naturalized and mystified history.

In the ensuing discussion, participants had the opportunity to push Teschke on his critical intentions and claims, as well as his professional allegiances to a critical international relations theory. Questions were raised as to why Schmitt is relatively silent on the 19th century (obviously a key period for the group), and on the relative merits of different methodological approaches to law, politics and their interrelation.

18-19 May
Working Group Paradoxes of Peace in 19th Century Europe Second meeting, Helsinki

Picture by Fouad Philippe Saadé.

On 18th and 19th May 2011, the working group "Paradoxes of Peace in Nineteenth-Century Europe", coordinated by Thomas Hippler (University of Lyon, France) and Miloš Vec (Max-Planck-Institute for Legal History, Frankfurt, Germany), convened for its second meeting in Helsinki.

The participants discussed their 2nd draft versions of their papers, coming from different disciplines and academic backgrounds. Treated were conceptual issues as well as problems of historiography. The meeting covered historical subjects varying from international law, economics, financial transactions, gender, religion to political philosophy. In the center the question of the paradoxical aspects was located: When does "peace" mean "war" and vice versa? And how can the development from late Enlightenment "eternal peace"-ideas to 1914 be understood in that sense? The meeting ended with an outlook on the publication which will be the result of the group.

23-24 May
What Past for What Future? - What History for What Europe?
Second meeting

Joint conference venture with CENS and the Network for European Studies (NES) at Helsinki University, Central European University, Budapest and Max Planck Institute for Legal History, Frankfurt

In the second of a series of meetings co-sponsored by the EReRe project, a distinguished group of panelists, including Johann Arnason, Sverre Bagge, Garth Fowden, Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila, Christoph Harbsmeier, Peter Heather, Patrick Olivelle, Jonathan Shepard and Bo Stråth. confronted the question of origin myths, and the role that they have played in framing questions of European identity.

The meeting took as its starting point Garth Fowden's forthcoming book, Before and after Muhammad: The First Millennium refocused, in which Fowden confronts the well-known thesis of Rémi Brague (2002) arguing that Europe emerged through the incorporation of values established in what today is called the Middle East. Europe began in what is seen as outside itself with an Asian foundation myth (Europa and the Bull) and an Asian religion. The exocentric definition of Europe, as Rémi Brague sees it, through continuous alienation from its own Asian origins, at the end became centric when the look backward and eastward changed in the direction of forward and westward after the discovery of America. The crusades were an important step in this process. Fowden argues for a history which does not move from Asia to Europe and at the end make Europe the centre of the world. He suggests a new periodization, during which the ancient world was gradually transformed and there came into being, across Europe and West Asia, a triad of sibling civilizations, successors of Rome, whose commitment to revealed monotheism either Biblical in Greek and Latin Christendom, or Qur'anic in the Muslim world, was to varying degrees tempered by the rational principles derived from Greek and Roman Antiquity. Fowden undertakes a re-contextualization of Late Antiquity in time as well as space. In the dimension of space, the conventional Mediterranean framework of late antique history is superseded by the triptych of the Iranian plateau and the Eastern Mediterranean basin flanking the "Mountain Area" in other words the area embraced by the Amanus, Taurus and Zagros Mountains, the highlands of South Arabia and Ethiopia's rugged plateau in the South, and to the West the mountains flanking the Red Sea and backing the Eastern Mediterranean littoral. Fowden challenges the idea of Europe as the centre of modernity and looks for a more entangled Eurasianafrican understanding where the role of Islam is seen as not less important than Christianity.

Starting from this debate, the meeting brought to bear on the problems of reorientating our historical understanding, the perspectives of other experts on the period, ranging geographically from the East Mediterranean (Shepard and Hämeen-Anttila), Western and Eastern Europe (Heather), the pre-Christian Nordic cultures (Bagge), and, in a more global perspective, the neighbouring Hindu and Buddhist cultures of India and China (Olivelle and Harbsmeier). As was clear from the discussions, and from the synoptic presentations of Arnason and Stråth, moving away from older Eurocentric historical narratives can have a transformative effect on our understanding of past and present alike.

25 May
Geopolitics, International Law, and Social Relations in the Long 19th Century: an Encounter betweern International Relationships Theory and History. Reading seminar 3 organised by Benno Teschke (bio)

Pre-reading: China Mieville, Between Equal Rights, chs 3 and 6.

Benno Teschke´s third and final session of his reading seminar centered on chapter 3 ("For Pashukanis: An Exposition and Defence of the Commodity-Form Theory of Law" ) and 6 ("Imperialism, Sovereignty and International Law") of China Mieville´s book Between Equal Rights: A Marxist Theory of International Law (2006). Mieville and Teschke cofounded the Historical Materialism journal in 1997 and since then have engaged in discussions on their work in relation to critical marxist theory. Both are non-lawyers who take international law seriously as constituting social reality and approach the discipline from a marxist analysis. Mieville´s main point is that international lawyers, even critical ones, have bypassed a theory of the legal form. Therefore, he engages the work of the soviet legal theorist Evgeny Pashukanis particularly The General Theory of Law and Marxism (1924) from which his central argument is that 'the logic of the commodity form is the logic of the legal form.' For Mieville, Pashukanis is necessary to understand the legal form of international law. Mieville´s sixth chapter presents international law and imperialism as mutually constituting. Mieville illustrates this point with historical examples such as the biases of state recognition, the standard of civilization and unequal treaties, the 'scramble' for Africa and the mandate system. In sum, Mieville argues that because the fundamental subjects of international law are states which face each other as property owners under unequal capacity for use of force, then it is inherent to the international legal form to assume juridical equality as well as unequal violence. Thus concludes Mieville 'international law assumes imperialism' meaning that ' in the concrete conjuncture of modern international capitalism...without imperialism there could be no international law.'

After presenting this brief summary, Teschke pointed out his critique of Mieville´s underspecified conception of capitalism, his monolithic view of European modernity and the missing dimension of social agency. Teschke´s engagement with Mieville´s work allowed an opening for a discussion on the potential (or not) of critical marxist theory to be used as a possible intervention in today´s debates about the financial crisis and the collapse of capitalism.