10 March 2017: Nationhood and Empire in Habsburg Central Europe

Leiden University’s Central and East European Studies Center cordially invites you to attend the seminar

Opposites Attract?: Rethinking Nationhood and Empire in Habsburg Central Europe, 1804-1930


Pieter Judson (European University Institute, Florence)

  • Date: Friday 10 March 2017
  • Time: 16:00-18:00
  • Venue: Institute for History, Doelensteeg, 16, 2311 VL Leiden, Huizinga Building, Conference room (2nd floor)

At least since the breakup of the Habsburg Monarchy in 1918 scholars have framed empire and nationhood as fundamentally opposed concepts, or forms of statehood. In a world that validates the nation state as the most desirable form of statehood, the characteristics of empire still appear to contradict the founding principles of nation states. In this presentation I argue that in Habsburg Central Europe, concepts of nation and empire developed in intimate relationship to each other. Not only did each require the other to give it meaning, imperial legal institutions and administrative practices also shaped the definitional parameters nationalist activists gave to their ideas of community. Similarly, in the last third of the 19th century, the empire’s renewed forms of self-justification were increasingly founded on ideas of nationhood. Finally, I argue that the post-1918 settlement constituted a moment of greater continuity than is generally recognized, in creating a range of mini-empires that legitimated their existence by asserting a status as nation-states.

About Pieter Judson

Pieter Judson is Professor of 19th and 20th Century History and Head of the History Department at the European University Institute in Florence. In addition to his most recent book The Habsburg Empire. A New History (Harvard University Press, 2016), which will form the basis of his lecture, some of his other major publications include Guardians of the Nation. Activists on the Language Frontiers of Imperial Austria (Harvard University Press, 2006) and Exclusive Revolutionaries: Liberal Politics, Social Experience, and National Identity in the Austrian Empire, 1848-1914 (Michigan University Press, 1996).

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