Nation, State and Empire (2017)

The Engelsberg Seminar 2017

June 8th – 10th 2017 at Engelsberg Ironworks, Sweden

The Latin noun natio, from the verb nasci, “to be born from”, is the root of our modern concept of “nation”. It implies that our birthplace is vital for our sense of belonging and identity. We are all born somewhere. Yet what that somewhere means to us will vary.

This seminar will examine forms of identity and belonging connected to different ways of organising society. Does the notion of nation has its origin in the 18th and 19th centuries, as some historians claim, or does it have a longer history? Can a shared identity of belonging to an empire bridge difference of language and culture? And what can history tell us of the diverse ways we have created kinship and association.

The Engelsberg seminar will start by examining the identity of territory in the classical world as well as the meaning of nationality. We will continue by investigating the differences and similarities between nations, states and empires – from Æthelstan’s “the Forging of the United Kingdom of England” to the empires of the 19th and 20th centuries. The Second day will be devoted to the foundations of societal organisation. We will start by comparing the role of religion in the creation of states and nations. What do the early modern city states of Italy, the conflicts of the Middle East, and nationalism in modern Asia have in common? And what role does the rule of law and cohesive demos play in forming stable societies?

We will discuss different forms of nationalism, and ask why the nationalistic movements of Germany, Sweden, Italy and the US, while sharing similar ideological traits had such different outcomes. The day will end with a panel on the existential question of dying for a king and country. Are soldiers prepared to die for a cause or could “the ultimate sacrifice” be driven by other motivations?

The third and last day of the seminar will focus on nationalism today and the rise of populism worldwide. What will the anti-establishment movements mean for both national politics and international cooperation? Has a world where we can go anywhere created a longing for a somewhere?


The Identity of Territory

Robin Lane Fox
Emeritus Fellow, New College, University of Oxford
Lecture: Nationalism: Does it Exist in the Classical World?

Gillian Clark
Professor Emerita of Ancient History, University of Bristol
Lecture: Rome, Jerusalem and Babylon: Augustine on Transient Empires and Everlasting Cities

Steven Grosby
Professor of Religion, Clemson University
Lecture: Nationality: Its Persistence and Significance


Nation, State and Empire

Tom Holland
Author, Historian
Lecture: Kingship and Empire: The Forging of the United Kingdom of England

Peter H Wilson
Chichele Professor of the History of War, University of Oxford
Lecture: Identity and Belonging in the Holy Roman Empire

Larry Siedentop
Emeritus Fellow, Keble College, University of Oxford
Lecture: The Invention of the State

Lawrence James
Lecture: Visions of Empire


Divine Kingdoms

Maurizio Viroli
Professor of Politics (Emeritus), Princeton University and Professor of Government, University of Texas at Austin
Lecture: Patriotism and Civic Religion in Early Modern Italian City-Republics

General Sir Simon Mayall
Senior Advisor, Greenhill & Co. International
Lecture: The “Ummah” Versus of the “Nation State” – The Historical Roots of Modern Conflicts in the Middle East

Jessica Frazier
Dr., Lecturer in the Study of Religions and Philosophies, Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, Universities of Oxford and Kent
Lecture: Spirit, God, King: Modern nationalism as Spirit-Shrine-Mentality in Asia


The Citizen and the State

Jeremy Jennings
Professor of Political Theory, King’s College London
Lecture: State, Nation and Empire in Modern Europe

Josef Joffe
Editor at the Die Zeit, Distinguished Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Visiting Professor of Political Science, Stanford University
Lecture: Nation and State Vs. Europe

Philip Bobbitt
Herbert Wechsler Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the Center on National Security, Columbia University
Lecture: The US Constitution in the 21st Century



Sir Richard J Evans
Regius Professor Emeritus of History and President of Wolfson College, University of Cambridge and Provost of Gresham College in the City of London
Lecture: Nationalism and National Identity in Germany from the 18th Century to the 21st

Lucy Riall
Professor of Comparative History of Europe, European University Institute
Lecture: The Global Networks of Italian Nationalism

Lars Trägårdh
Professor of History and Civil Society Studies, Ersta Sköndal University College
Lecture: Democracy in the Blood: How Nationalism Enabled a Project of Radical Individual Freedom in Sweden

Charles S Maier
Leverett Saltonstall Professor of History, Harvard University
Lecture: The United States: Nation and/or Empire in the Trump Era


Dying for Territory

Robert Johnson
Dr., Director of the Changing Character of War Programme, Pembroke College, University of Oxford
Lecture: The Lethality and the Cohesion of Nation and Empire in the First World War

Tim Marshall
Journalist, Author,
Lecture: Flags in an Age of Renewed Nationalism

Harvey Whitehouse
Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Oxford
Lecture: The Dark Side to Loving a Group

Christopher Coker
Professor, London School of Economics
Lecture: Dying for Territory: A Phenomenological Approach


The State of the Nation

Janne Haaland Matláry
Professor of Political Science, University of Oslo and the Norwegian Defence University
Lecture: Security and National Identity: The European – “Revolt of the Masses”

Carlos Escudé
PhD, Director, Centre for the Study of Religion, the State and Society, CERES, Latin American Rabbinical Seminar
Lecture: The Legitimacy of Interstate Hierarchy

Jonathan Fenby
Chairman of China Research, TS-LOMBARD, Author
Lecture: China’s New Imperial State – Challenges and Contradictions

Martina Winkelhofer
Dr., Historian, Author and Journalist
Lecture: The Struggle for Nationhood – Austrian Identity Poast WWII and Beyond


The Return of the Somewheres?

David Goodhart
Author and Journalist
Lecture: A Post-Populist Settlement

Iain Martin
Columnist for the Times, London
Lecture: Beyond Brexit, Towards a Better Capitalism

Freddy Gray
Deputy Editor, The Spectator
Lecture: The May Way: The British Answer to Populism

Watch the lectures on Axess TV