Annual Lecture: Intimate Relationships Between Alleged Opposites: Empire and Nation in Habsburg Central Europe, 1848-1930

Thursday 2nd March, Bateman Auditorium, Gonville and Caius College, 5-7pm

Professor Pieter Judson (European University Institute, Florence)

Supported by the DAAD Cambridge Research Hub with funds from the German Federal Foreign Office (FFO)

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 Habsburg 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.

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