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Virtual: The Sociology of Empire: German and Habsburg Theories of Multinational Statehood, 1848-1914 Seminar - UNC Global

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

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

Join the North Carolina German Studies and Workshop Series for a discussion on the sociology of empire.

Over the past 20 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 doctoral 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, UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History

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

The Zoom URL for each NCGS seminar will be communicated two weeks before the event via the NCGS listserv.

If you are not on this listserv please contact the NCGS  organizers Max H. Lazar, ( and Michael Skalski, (mskalski@live.unc.eduand ask them to be added this listserv or request the URL for the specific event.