The Research Project Europe 1815-1914 Between Restoration and Revolution, National Constitutions and Global Law: an Alternative View on the European Century 1815-1914

  • Brisku, Adrian (Participant)

    Project: Research project

    Project Details

    Description (abstract)

    The project focuses on the period between the Peace of Vienna (1815) and the outbreak of the "Second European Thirty Years War" (1914). The century 1815-1914 was the pre-war historical ground on which the peace of 1945 and our present conception of Europe were built. It testifies at least as much to conflict and fragility as to progress. The century is traversed by a series of tensions in the political, cultural, social, economic and legal fields and struggles between the protagonists of different conceptions of European modernity. The legal and political basis for a new European order established at the Congress in Vienna was what was called the European concert. The Treaty in Vienna opened an era that lasted until 1914 in which wars in Europe decreased, whereas the number of civil wars increased and "'the Revolution' came to no end" (Koselleck 1969:199-229). The only wars which challenged the borders regulated in the Treaty were the Italian and German unification wars between 1859 and 1871. The other international wars during the century after Vienna - the Crimean War 1853-56, the Russian-Turkish Wars 1828-29 and 1877-78 and the Balkan Wars 1912-13 (about the spatial order in South-Eastern Europe and in the Ottoman Empire) and the colonial wars between European powers - were excluded in the Vienna Treaty. The European battlefields were exported or transformed into internal social conflicts.

    The point of departure of this project is that a good part of the present deficit of legitimacy of European institutions emerges from a deeply a-historic view of Europe's past. Consequently, there is an urgent need for a more realistic history that rejects any teleological understanding of Europe as a self-propelling project on steady march towards a predetermined goal. Instead, the fragility of European peace and progress needs to be highlighted. Recent attempts to look for historical analogies to the EU in the American constitution convent in Philadelphia in 1787 or in the German-Roman Empire, which collapsed in 1806, bypass the 19th century European experience of violent nation building and global expansion. This circumvention - and the theoretical foundation of Europe in teleological modernisation and globalisation theories - has lead to a-historical understandings of Europe's past that disturbs our ability to plan for its future.

    The project is in particular investigating three European fields of tension:

    · between constitutions as instruments for restoration and reform/revolution, between monarchical sovereignty and people's sovereignty;

    · between geopolitics and global law;

    · between the social and the economic, between the fiction of the state and the fiction of the market.
    Effective start/end date01/09/200931/08/2014