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The Sociology of Empire: German and Habsburg Theories of Multinational Statehood, 1848-1914

December 4, 2020 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

This virtual event is organized by the NC German Studies Seminar and Workshop Series. For the most updated details and information on joining the event, please visit the NCGSWS website.

Speaker: THOMAS PRENDERGAST I Graduate Student, Duke University , Department of History

Over the past twenty years, historians have dramatically reevaluated the Habsburg Monarchy. Whereas scholars once characterized the Monarchy as a “prison of nations,” they now emphasize the effectiveness of its institutions and its subjects’ loyalty to the dynasty and indifference to nationalist propaganda. And yet, despite its stability and “modernity,” Habsburg Austria came to be categorized in the decades before World War I as an “empire,” an archaic polity fundamentally different from Western European “nation-states.” This lecture will examine how and why Central European jurists attempted to define the Habsburg Monarchy as an “empire” and the Habsburg effort to undermine this definition through a new and globally influential sociological critique of the state. I will show that German nationalist legal scholars used “empire” to distinguish the Monarchy from other similarly composite European states and that Austrian sociologists recognized the analytical inadequacy of this category more than a century before the “imperial turn.”

THOMAS R. PRENDERGAST is a PhD Candidate in History at Duke University. His research explores the intellectual history of modern East Central Europe from a global and Jewish perspective, specifically the formative role this region played in shaping concepts of imperialism, federalism, internationalism, and decolonization.

Moderation: CHAD BRYANT I UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History

Co-Conveners: Duke University, Department of History, and UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History, and and Center for Slavic, Eurasian, and East European Studies


December 4, 2020
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Event Category:
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