The Research Project Europe 1815-1914

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



Paradoxes of Peace in 19th Century Europe

Organised by Thomas Hippler, Université de Lyon and
Miloš Vec, University of Vienna

The aim of this working group is to explore and highlight the contradictions and paradoxes in nineteenth-century discourses on peace, particularly in Europe. Rather than being opposites, war and peace do constitute each other, while constituting a normative order within the international realm. This normative order can be analysed as a discourse, inasmuch as it implies both power relations and the semantics of legitimacy and norms. It is the reference to the normative order that determines if a military operation is a war, a mission of ‘pacification’ or an intervention. Simultaneously, the reference to a normative order determines if an uprising is a menace to an international order or on the contrary, a necessary prerequisite to establish conditions of international legitimacy. The European semantic fields of key concepts conveying value (e g peace, war, free trade, civilization and culture) are complex and full of tensions. The working group aims at undermining any teleological understandings and categorizations in black and white in the imaginations of European peace.


La liberté Guidant le Peuple (1830), by Eugène Delacroix, Musée du Louvre, Paris.