Upcoming events

Conquering Peace: From the Enlightenment to the European Union – Public lecture with book launch by Stella Ghervas (Newcastle University)

Date and time: 18 May 2021, 16.00-17.30 (CET)
Place: online
discussants: t.b.a.

This seminar is jointly organised with the Rethinking Modern Europe Seminar at the Institute of Historical Research, London. See: https://www.history.ac.uk/seminars/rethinking-modern-europe


Political peace in Europe has historically been elusive and ephemeral. In her new book Conquering Peace: From the Enlightenment to the European Union (Harvard UP), Stella Ghervas shows that since the eighteenth century, European thinkers and leaders in pursuit of lasting peace fostered the idea of European unification.

Bridging intellectual and political history, Conquering Peace draws on the work of philosophers from Abbé de Saint-Pierre, who wrote an early eighteenth-century plan for perpetual peace, to Rousseau and Kant, as well as statesmen such as Tsar Alexander I, Woodrow Wilson, Winston Churchill, Robert Schuman, and Mikhail Gorbachev. It locates five major conflicts since 1700 that spurred such visionaries to promote systems of peace in Europe: the War of the Spanish Succession, the Napoleonic Wars, World War I, World War II, and the Cold War. Each moment generated a “spirit” of peace among monarchs, diplomats, democratic leaders, and ordinary citizens. The engineers of peace progressively constructed mechanisms and institutions designed to prevent future wars.

Arguing for continuities from the ideals of the Enlightenment, through the nineteenth-century Concert of Nations, to the institutions of the European Union and beyond, the book illustrates how peace as a value shaped the idea of a unified Europe long before the EU came into being. Today the EU is widely criticized as an obstacle to sovereignty and for its democratic deficit. Seen in the long-range perspective of the history of peacemaking, however, this European society of states emerges as something else entirely: a step in the quest for a less violent world.


Stella Ghervas is Professor of Russian History at Newcastle University and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. She works on Russian and European history in an enlarged perspective, in time (from the Enlightenment to the present) and in space (including Eastern Europe and the Balkans). Her previous book Réinventer la tradition: Alexandre Stourdza et l’Europe de la Sainte-Alliance won the Guizot Prize from the Académie Française.

A Food Utopia? Italian colonial visions of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica, 1911-1913 – Public lecture by Or Rosenboim (City, University of London)

date: 15 June 2021, 16:00-17:30 CET
Place: Online. to enroll, please contact annelien de dijn (amrdedijn@gmail.com)

Abstract. This paper examines ideas of food plenty as motivation for the Italian colonization of Libya in 1911-1912. It looks at the writings of three Italian journalists in Libya, and examines their ideas of agricultural production and food abundance as a form of utopia. The paper argues that food utopias were linked to notions of race, civilization and modernity, and helped motivate colonial ideas in Liberal Italy before fascism.

Biography. Or Rosenboim is a lecturer and Director of the Centre for Modern History at the department of International Politics at City, University of London.  Her book, The emergence of globalism: Visions of World Order in Britain and the United States, 1939-1950, was published by Princeton University Press in April 2017. The book won the Guicciardini Prize for the Best Book in Historical International Relations (2018) and was shortlisted for the Gladstone Prize and the TSA/CUP Prize.