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2017: Nation, state and empire

Belonging in a Globalised World

In this seminar, the contributors considered how different kinds of identity are tied to different kinds of communities. How does a nation emerge? How is unity achieved in an empire with a diverse population?

With the end of the Cold War and the triumph of globalisation, many believed that nationalism was a thing of the past: instead, the opposite is true. Today, we can see nationalism spreading across the world, as populistic and anti-democratic movements grow stronger.

Belonging somewhere seems to become even more important in a time of economic and social uncertainty. In a globalised world, identity, citizenship and belonging are consequently connected to birthplace and an established residence.


The Identity of Territory

Robin Lane Fox: Nationalism: Does it Exist in the Classical World?

Emeritus Fellow, New College, University of Oxford

Robin Lane Fox is an emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford. He was Oxford University reader in ancient history from 1990 until his retirement in 2014. His book The Classical World: An Epic History of Greece and Rome won the Runciman Award, and Augustine: Conversions and Confessions won the UK’s Wolfson History Prize for the best book on any period of history published in that year. His latest book is The Invention of Medicine: From Homer to Hippocrates.

Gillian Clark: Rome, Jerusalem and Babylon: Augustine on Transient Empires and Everlasting Cities

Professor Emerita, Classics and Ancient History, University of Bristol

Gillian Clark is Professor Emerita of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Bristol. She sits on the editorial board of many series and the advisory council of numerous national and international organ­isations, and is a fellow of the British Academy. Several of her papers are collected in Body and Gender, Soul and Reason in Late Antiquity, and her publications include Late Antiquity: A Very Short Introduction and Women in the Ancient World.

Steven Grosby: Nationality: Its Persistence and Significance

Emeritus Professor of Religion at Clemson University, South Carolina

Steven Grosby is Emeritus Professor of Religion at Clemson University, South Carolina. His books include Hebraism in Religion, History, and Politics: The Third Culture; Biblical Ideas of Nationality: Ancient and Modern; and the translation of Hans Freyer’s Theory of Objective Mind: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Culture. He has also edited three volumes of Edward Shils’ writings: The Virtue of Civility; The Calling of Education; and A Fragment of a Sociological Autobiography.

Nation, State and Empire

Tom Holland: Kingship and Empire: The Forging of the United Kingdom of England

Historian and author

Tom Holland is a historian and translator. He has made films on subjects ranging from dinosaurs to the Islamic State, and presents BBC Radio 4’s Making History and the podcast The Rest Is History. He has written books on Greek, Roman and early medieval history, and his most recent, Dominion, traces the evolution of Christianity as a revolutionary force. He has translated Herodotus and Suetonius for Penguin Classics.

Peter H Wilson: Identity and Belonging in the Holy Roman Empire

Professor of the History of War, University of Oxford

Peter H. Wilson is Chichele Professor of the History of War at the University of Oxford, where he is a fellow of All Souls College. He obtained his PhD from Jesus College, University of Cambridge and now leads the European Fiscal-Military System project, funded by the European Research Council. His publications include The Holy Roman Empire: A Thousand Years of Europe’s History and Europe’s Tragedy: A New History of the Thirty Years War.

Larry Siedentop: The Invention of the State

Emeritus Fellow, Keble College, University of Oxford

Larry Siedentop is an emeritus fellow of Keble College, University of Oxford, where he was a faculty lecturer in political thought for three decades. He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2004 for services to political thought and higher education, and was knighted in the 2016 Birthday Honours, for services to political science. His books include Tocqueville and Democracy in Europe.

Lawrence James: Visions of Empire


Lawrence James is a historian and writer with a special interest in empire. He studied at the University of York and did a research degree at Merton College, Oxford. Starting his career as a teacher, James became a full-time writer in 1985. His books include Churchill and Empire: Portrait of an Imperialist and Empires in the Sun: The Struggle for the Mastery of Africa.

Divine Kingdoms

Maurizio Viroli: Patriotism and Civic Religion in Early Modern Italian City-Republics

Emeritus Professor of Politics, Princeton University

Maurizio Viroli is an academic, essayist, author and philosopher. He is Emeritus Professor of Politics at Princeton University, Professor of Political Communication at the University of Italian Switzerland (Lugano) and Professor of Government at the University of Texas, Austin. Among his publications are Nazionalisti e Patrioti; The Quotable Machiavelli and Redeeming ‘The Prince’: The Meaning of Machiavelli’s Masterpiece.

Simon Mayall: The “Ummah” Versus of the “Nation State” – The Historical Roots of Modern Conflicts in the Middle East

Retired British Army officer and former senior Middle East adviser, UK Ministry of Defence

Simon Mayall is a retired British Army officer who most recently served as senior Middle East adviser for the UK’s Ministry of Defence and was the Prime Minister’s security envoy to Iraq after the fall of Mosul. He was knighted in 2014 and has also been honoured with the US Legion of Merit for services in Iraq. He is the author of Soldier in the Sand: A Personal History of the Modern Middle East.

Jessica Frazier: Spirit, God, King: Modern nationalism as Spirit-Shrine-Mentality in Asia

Lecturer, University of Oxford and the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies

Jessica Frazier is a lecturer at Oxford University and the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. She explores philosophical themes of ontology, selfhood and flourishing across cultures. She is the founding editor of the Journal of Hindu Studies, contributes to British media, and her books include Hindu Worldviews: Theories of Self, Ritual and Divinity; Categorisation in Indian Philosophy: Thinking Inside the Box and Reality, Religion, and Passion: Indian and Western Approaches in Hans-Georg Gadamer and Rupa Gosvami.

The Citizen and the State

Jeremy Jennings: State, Nation and Empire in Modern Europe

Professor of Political Theory, King’s College London

Jeremy Jennings is Professor of Political Theory at King’s College London. He holds a visiting professorship with the Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques and was founding editor of the European Journal of Political Theory. His publications include Revolution and the Republic: A History of Political Thought in France since the Eighteenth Century, which won the Franco-British Society’s Enid McLeod Literary Award.

Josef Joffe: Nation and State Vs. Europe

Distinguished Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University

Josef Joffe obtained his PhD in government from Harvard University, and is now a distinguished fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. A co-founder of the the American Interest magazine, he serves on the editorial council of Die Zeit in Hamburg and is also on the editorial board of International Security at Harvard/MIT. Joffe’s most recent book is Der gute Deutsche: Die Karriere einer moralischen Supermacht.

Philip Bobbitt: The US Constitution in the 21st Century

Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the Center on National Security, Columbia University

Philip Bobbitt is the Herbert Wechsler Professor of Federal Jurisprudence at Columbia University, and Distinguished Senior Lecturer at the University of Texas. He has served in the US government during seven administrations, including in the post of senior director for strategic planning at the National Security Council. Bobbitt’s books include The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace and the Course of History and Impeachment: A Handbook (with Charles Black, Jr.).


Richard J Evans: Nationalism and National Identity in Germany from the 18th Century to the 21st

Professor Emeritus of History and President of Wolfson College, University of Cambridge

Richard J. Evans is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Cambridge, and former provost of Gresham College, London. He is a fellow of the British Academy, a founding fellow of the Learned Society of Wales and a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. His written work includes books on the Third Reich, In Defence of History and The Pursuit of Power: Europe 1815–1914, a volume in the Penguin History of Europe series. 

Lucy Riall: The Global Networks of Italian Nationalism

Professor of the History of Europe in the World, European University Institute, Florence

Lucy Riall is Professor of the History of Europe in the World at the European University Institute in Florence. She was previously Professor of History at Birkbeck, University of London and has held visiting positions at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris and the University of California, Berkeley, among others. Her publications include Garibaldi: Invention of a Hero and Under the Volcano: Revolution in a Sicilian Town.

Lars Trägårdh: Democracy in the Blood: How Nationalism Enabled a Project of Radical Individual Freedom in Sweden

Professor of History and Civil Society Studies, Ersta Sköndal University College

Lars Trägårdh is Professor of History at the Ersta Sköndal University College in Stockholm, and previously taught European history at Barnard College, Columbia University for ten years. In 2011, he was appointed a member of Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt’s commission on the future of Sweden. His books include State and Civil Society in Northern Europe: The Swedish Model Reconsidered, and After National Democracy: Rights, Law and Power in America and the New Europe.

Charles S. Maier: The United States: Nation and/or Empire in the Trump Era

Professor Emeritus of History, Harvard University

Charles S. Maier is the Leverett Saltonstall Professor Emeritus of History at Harvard University. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society. He has been awarded the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Cross of Honour for Science and Art (first class) by the Republic of Austria. Maier’s many publications include Once Within Borders: Territories of Power, Wealth, and Belonging since 1500.

Dying for Territory

Rob Johnson: The Lethality and the Cohesion of Nation and Empire in the First World War

Director of the Changing Character of War Programme, Pembroke College, University of Oxford

Rob Johnson is the senior research fellow of Pembroke College, associate of the Department of Politics and International Relations and director of the Oxford Changing Character of War Centre, at the University of Oxford. The CCW Centre brings together academics, policymakers and armed-forces professionals in the study of armed conflict and its consequences. Johnson has written extensively on war, decision making and military strategic thought, including in his book Lawrence of Arabia on War: The Campaign in the Desert, 1916–18.

Tim Marshall: Flags in an Age of Renewed Nationalism

Journalist and author

Tim Marshall is a journalist and broadcaster, and a former diplomatic editor and foreign affairs editor for Sky News. He is the founder and editor of, a website dedicated to the analysis of world events. He is the author of Shadowplay: Behind the Lines and Under Fire; Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics and Worth Dying For: The Power and Politics of Flags.

Harvey Whitehouse: The Dark Side to Loving a Group

Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Oxford

Harvey Whitehouse is chair of social anthropology, director of the Centre for the Study of Social Cohesion and professorial fellow of Magdalen College at the University of Oxford. He was founding director of the Institute of Cognition and Culture at Queen’s University, Belfast. His books include Inside the Cult: Religious Innovation and Transmission in Papua New Guinea; Arguments and Icons: Divergent Modes of Religiosity and Modes of Religiosity: A Cognitive Theory of Religious Transmission.

Christopher Coker: Dying for Territory: A Phenomenological Approach

Director of LSE IDEAS

Christopher Coker is director of LSE IDEAS, a foreign policy think tank at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is a former member of the Council of the Royal United Services Institute, for whom he wrote the monograph Empires in Conflict: The Growing Rift Between Europe and the United States. He is also a former editor of the Atlantic Quarterly and the European Security Analyst.

The State of the Nation

Janne Haaland Matláry: Security and National Identity: The European “Revolt of the Masses”

Professor of Political Science, University of Oslo and the Norwegian Defence University

Janne Haaland Matláry is Professor of Political Science at the University of Oslo and the Norwegian Command and Staff College. Her more than twenty books include Military Strategy in the Twenty-First Century: The Challenge for NATO (co-edited with Robert Johnson) and she is a columnist for Dagens Næringsliv. She represented the Norwegian Christian Democratic Party as Deputy Foreign Minister from 1997 to 2000. In 2001, she was appointed Dame of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and, in 2020, Dame of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary.

Carlos Escudé: The Legitimacy of Interstate Hierarchy

Political scientist and author

Carlos Escudé is an Argentine political scientist and author, who served as a special adviser to Argentina’s Foreign Minister, Guido di Tella, during the 1990s. He has been a visiting professor at Harvard University’s Department of Government and at Madrid’s Ortega y Gasset Institute, as well as a visiting fellow at St Antony’s College, Oxford, among others. His translated published works include Foreign Policy Theory in Menem’s Argentina.

Jonathan Fenby: China’s New Imperial State – Challenges and Contradictions

Chairman of China Research, TS Lombard

Jonathan Fenby is chairman of the China team at the TS Lombard research group. A former editor of the Observer and the South China Morning Post, and correspondent for The Economist and Reuters, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2000 for services to journalism. An associate at the London School of Economics and the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, his numerous books include Crucible: The Year that Shaped Our World.

Martina Winkelhofer: The Struggle for Nationhood – Austrian Identity Poast WWII and Beyond

Historian and author

Martina Winkelhofer is a specialist in the history of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Since 2010, she has been a project co-worker with the Commission for Modern Austrian History. She is the editor of a volume on the German and Austrian aristocracy and a columnist for Kronen Zeitung. Her books include Eine feine Gesellschaft: Europas Königs und Kaiserhäuser im Spiegel ihrer Skandale and So erlebten wir den Ersten Weltkrieg.

The Return of the Somewheres

David Goodhart: A Post-Populist Settlement

Journalist and author

David Goodhart is a journalist and author and is head of the demography unit at the Policy Exchange think tank. He is the founder and former editor of Prospect magazine and the former director of the centre-left think tank Demos. His book The British Dream: Successes and Failures of Post-War Immigration was runner-up for the Orwell Prize in 2014. His other publications include The Road to Somewhere: The New Tribes Shaping British Politics and Head, Hand, Heart: The Struggle for Dignity and Status in the 21st Century.

Iain Martin: Beyond Brexit, Towards a Better Capitalism

Political commentator and author

Iain Martin is a British political commentator and author. He writes a weekly column for The Times and is editor and publisher of Reaction, a website dedicated to the analysis of politics, economics and culture. He is the author of Making It Happen: Fred Goodwin, RBS and the Men Who Blew Up the British Economy, and in 2020 he contributed to launching the website Engelsberg Ideas with Mattias Hessérus.

Freddy Gray: The May Way: The British Answer to Populism

Deputy Editor, The Spectator

Freddy Gray is deputy editor of the Spectator, editor of the monthly Spectator World edition and host of the Americano podcast. He was formerly literary editor of the American Conservative and deputy editor of the Catholic Herald.