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Abstracts for Max Weber Lectures 2021-2022

Max Weber Lecture November 2021
 "The Struggle for Political Emancipation and the Formation of Modern National Identities"
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Carles Boix
(Princeton University)
3 November 2021, 17:00-18:30
Badia, Refettorio and Online, Zoom
Introduction: Miriam Golden (EUI, SPS Professor)

Abstract
The emergence of modern, uncontested national identities was linked to the success of the liberal order and its emancipatory project. In those states where “liberal” or “bourgeois” ideas succeeded, the old world of monarchical courtiers, corporate interests, and social estates disappeared, replaced by an abstract society of politically equal individuals and, as a result, a single national identity within existing political borders. By contrast, in those states where the liberal revolution failed (or happened late in time), the preservation of spatially defined barriers (inequalities) led to a break between the (old) center and one or more national peripheries or communities. I test the hypothesis by looking at the evolution of Jewish political identity employing a regression discontinuity design that exploits the differential political treatment of Polish and Russian Jews under Tsarism, complemented with a broader comparison of Zionism across American and European countries. The results show that the existing canonical explanations of modern national identity, which stress the role of societal modernization, education and/or the imaginary projects of elites, are endogenous to the political (pro-liberal) transformations that marked the birth of the contemporary era.
About the speaker 
He is the Robert Garrett Professor of Politics and Public Affairs in the Department of Politics and the School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.
He teaches and does research on political economy and comparative politics, particularly on empirical democratic theory, the choice of institutions and their consequences for growth and inequality.
He is a Faculty Associate at the Center for the Study of Democratic Politics, the  Mamdouha S. Bobst Center for Peace and Justice, and the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance.
He is the Director of the Institutions & Political Economy Research Group at the University of Barcelona.
 
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Max Weber Lecture December 2021
 "Western Perspectives on Eastern Europe: New Mental Mapping after the Cold War"
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Larry Wolff
(New York University)
1 December 2021, 17:00-18:30
Badia, Refettorio and Online, Zoom
Introduction and Chair: Jared Warren (MW Fellow)
Abstract
This lecture will discuss the idea of Eastern Europe, as first conceived in the eighteenth century, and how that idea has been recently transformed during the generation since the end of the Cold War.  Because the Cold War gave the idea of Eastern Europe its most concrete geopolitical meaning during the communist period, the post-communist period has witnessed a complex transformation of general ideas about the region, most notably in relation to the fall of communism and the entrance of so many lands of Eastern Europe into NATO and the European Union.  The lecture will make use of images and commentary, principally from the media and recent popular culture, in order to attempt to demonstrate the ways in which the idea and imagery of Eastern Europe has been transformed— and in some ways has remained constant— during the last three decades.  
About the speaker 
Professor Wolff works on the history of Eastern Europe, the Habsburg Monarchy, the Enlightenment, and on the history of childhood. He tends to work as an intellectual and cultural historian. He has been most interested in problems concerning East and West within Europe: whether concerning the Vatican and Poland, Venice and the Slavs, or Vienna and Galicia. In the book Inventing Eastern Europe (1994) he developed the argument that Eastern Europe was "invented" in the eighteenth century, by the philosophes and travelers of the Enlightenment, who attributed meaning to a supposed division of Europe into complementary regions, Western Europe and Eastern Europe. Professor Wolff has analyzed Western perspectives on Eastern Europe as a sort of "demi-Orientalism," negotiating a balance between attributed difference and acknowledged resemblance. In books about Venetian perspectives on Dalmatia (Venice and the Slavs, 2001) and Habsburg perspectives on Galicia (The Idea of Galicia, 2010), he has attempted to explore the meaning of "Eastern Europe" within imperial frameworks and the ideology of empire. Most recently he published Woodrow Wilson and the Reimagining of Eastern Europe (2020). His research on the history of childhood has included books on child abuse in Freud's Vienna (Postcards from the End of the World, 1988) and child abuse in Casanova's Venice (Paolina’s Innocence, 2012). His book, The Singing Turk (2016), concerns Turkish subjects on the European operatic stage during the long eighteenth century, and analyzes musical and dramatic representations in the context of European-Ottoman relations. Professor Wolff also writes music and opera criticism.
Max Weber Lecture January 2022
 "Im/possible Careers and Scholarly Households. Gendered Scholarly Personae around 1900"
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Johanna Gehmacher
(University of Vienna)
12 January 2022, 17:00-18:30
Badia, Refettorio and Online, Zoom
Introduction and Chair: Milos Vojinovic (MW Fellow)
Abstract
In German-speaking countries as elsewhere, women, especially from the middle classes, demanded entry into the male-dominated academic world with growing vehemence around 1900. Starting with the case of women’s rights activist Käthe Schirmacher, one of the first German women to earn a doctorate, this paper explores the constellations and dynamics that led to a reorganisation of the social field of knowledge production. Drawing on the concept of the scholarly persona as a mediating instance between individual aspirations and social relations it discusses the concept’s potential for a gender-sensitive history of science and knowledge. It argues that institutional and private arrangements that enable academics, intellectuals, and artists to concentrate on their work play an essential part in their production of knowledge and artistic work. Exploring these arrangements, the paper shows the emergence of gendered hierarchies of collaboration that accompanied the advancement of women into the academic field in the early 20th century. However, it also points to the development of alternative forms of scholarly households, and to female couples particularly. Therefore, this paper argues that questions about gender-specific (as well as class-specific) life plans and careers in academic and creative fields can only be examined in a differentiated way if the various forms of academic and non-academic private support are systematically included in research on the scholarly or creative persona.
 
About the speaker
Prof. Johanna Gehmacher teaches history at the Institute for Contemporary History at the University of Vienna. During the academic year 2018/19 she was Gerda Henkel Guest Professor at the Department for International History at the London School of Economics. She has published widely in the fields of gender history and contemporary history as well as on biographical methods. Among her recent publications is a comprehensive biography of Käthe Schirmacher published together with Elisa Heinrich and Corinna Oesch.
 
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Max Weber Lecture March 2022
 "Social networks, social capital and institutional enforcement mechanisms in the early modern Iberian empires: A proposal for imperial history"
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Bartolomé Yun-Casalilla
(Universidad Pablo de Olavide Sevilla)
2 March 2022, 17:00-18:30
Badia, Refettorio and Online, Zoom
Introduction and Chair: Andrés Vicent Fanconi (MW Fellow)
 
Abstract
This Lecture discusses how the basic ideas of theorists of economics, sociology and organization theory including Avner Greif, Pierre Bourdieu and Herbert Simon et al. can be used as instruments for the analysis of empires, and particularly the Iberian empires of the early modern period. Without entering into a discussion with these authors -which would be a later step-, Prof. Yun-Casalilla will try to show that a use of the categories they coined can lead to a different vision of the history of these empires and away from commonplaces, such as those that refer to their exceptionality or explain their decadence as a consequence of corruption or administrative and political incapacity. The analysis concludes with a comparative vision that, tentatively, demonstrates Iberian empires’ resemblance to other imperial formations of the time.
About the speaker
Bartolomé Yun-Casalilla holds a PhD in History by the Universidad de Valladolid. Currently he is Tenured Associate Professor in the Universidad Pablo de Olavide. He was Visiting Professor and Fellow at L’École Normale Superieur, London School of Economics and annual member of The Institute for Advanced Studies. He was Professor of the European University Institute in Florence (2003-2013) and Head of the Department of History and Civilization (2009-2012). His work focuses on the history of European aristocracies, political economy of the Iberian empires and consumption history in Spain and America.
Max Weber Lecture April 2022
"The Crumbling House of Islam: Religious Fundamentalism and the Crisis of the Muslim World"

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Ruud Koopmans
(WZB Berlin Social Science Center & Humboldt University Berlin)
6 April 2022, 17:00-18:30
Badia, Refettorio and Online, Zoom
Introduction and Chair: Farah Ramzy (MW Fellow, RSC)

 

Abstract
The “House of Islam” – the term in the Islamic tradition by which those parts of the world are described in which Islam is the dominant religion – currently finds itself in a troubling state of disrepair; compared to its own past, compared to the West, but increasingly also compared to other parts of the non-Western world. As late as the early 1970s, there were no significant gaps between Islamic countries and the rest of the non-Western world in terms of democracy, human rights, political violence or economic development. Since then, however, while many non-Islamic countries in Asia, Latin America, Eastern and Southern Europe, as well as some in sub-Saharan Africa have made important progress, most Islamic countries have stagnated or even moved in a reverse direction. That this divergence has taken shape in the last fifty years indicates that its causes are not intrinsic to the nature of Islam. The crucial development has been the rise of Islamic religious fundamentalism, which achieved a breakthrough in the year 1979, with the simultaneous occurrence of the revolution in Iran, the occupation by jihadists of the Great Mosque in Mecca, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. I identify and provide empirical evidence for three central mechanisms through which fundamentalist interpretations of Islam produce adverse outcomes concerning democracy, human rights, political violence, and economic development. First, the rejection of a separation between religion and state, which has resulted in a combination of a politicization of Islam and an Islamization of the state, with negative consequences for democracy, violent conflict, and the rights of minorities. Second, the Islamic world has failed to partake in what is perhaps the most important social and economic innovation of the second half of the 20th century, the emancipation of women. Muslim countries dominate the bottom ranks in global comparisons of the legal position of women as well as female labour-market participation and literacy rates, with negative consequences for economic development. Third, Islamic fundamentalism promotes the primacy of religious over secular knowledge. Muslim-majority countries have fallen behind in the educational and cognitive revolution of the post-World-War-II period, as indicated for instance by low levels of book production and patents, and illiteracy levels that continue to be twice as high as in the non-Muslim world. 
About the Speaker
Ruud Koopmans is Research Director at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center and Professor of Sociology and Migration Research at Humboldt University Berlin. His current research focuses on migration and integration, religious fundamentalism and extremism, and majority and minority rights. His most recent books deal with the new political cleavage around globalization (The Struggle over Borders. Cosmopolitanism and Communitarianism, with Pieter de Wilde et al.; Cambridge University Press, 2019); the crisis of the Islamic world (Das verfallene Haus des Islam. Die religiösen Ursachen von Unfreiheit, Stagnation und Gewalt; CH Beck Publishers, 2020; also translated into Dutch and Danish), and the tension between majority and minority rights (Majorities, Minorities, and the Future of Nationhood, with Liav Orgad, forthcoming with Cambridge University Press, 2022). 
Max Weber Lecture May 2022
"Mobile Internet and Confidence in Government"
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Ekaterina Zhuravskaya
(Paris School of Economics) 
11 May 2022, 17:00-18:30
Badia, Refettorio and Online, Zoom
Introduction and Chair: Jessica Di Cocco (MW Fellow, SPS)

 

 Abstract
How does mobile broadband internet affect the political landscape of autocracies and democracies and political attitudes of people? How do fake news affect political attitudes and what is the role of fact-checking in circulating the fake news and in changing political attitudes? The lecture will describe the results of recent studies of Ekaterina Zhuravskaya with a number of co-authors that address these important questions. Using Gallup World Poll surveys and the exogenous sources of variation in the global expansion of mobile broadband networks, one of these studies shows that, on average, an increase in mobile broadband internet access reduces government approval. This effect is present only when the internet is not censored, and it is stronger when the traditional media are censored. Mobile broadband helps expose actual corruption in government: revelations of the Panama Papers and other corruption incidents translate into higher perceptions of corruption in regions covered by 3G networks. Voter disillusionment had electoral implications: In Europe, 3G expansion led to lower vote shares for incumbent parties and higher vote shares for the anti-establishment populist opposition. Vote shares for non-populist opposition parties were unaffected by 3G expansion. Two other studies conduct online experiments with exposure to fake news, their fact-checking, and circulation of them on social media.
About the Speaker
Ekaterina Zhuravskaya is Professor of Economics at the Paris School of Economics (EHESS) since 2010. She is also a Research Fellow of the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) in Public Policy and Development Economics programs. She got her PhD at Harvard University in 1999 and spent the 10 subsequent years working as Professor at the New Economic School in Moscow. Her main academic interests are in political economy. Her ERC project ‘The Economics of Ethnic Prejudice’ studies the factors that make ethnic diversity important for conflict and economic development. The first sub-project uses forced mass movements of ethnic groups in Eastern Europe and from Eastern Europe to Central Asia as a result of WWII to test social psychology theories of ethnic identity. The second sub-project studies how ethnic occupational segregation affects ethnic tensions in the context of historical anti-Jewish violence in 19th and 20th century Eastern Europe. The third sub-project focuses on the effects of political manipulation on ethnic conflict in the context of the historical experiment of nation-building in Central Asia. It studies how political empowerment of a certain ethnic elite in a multi-ethnic traditional society coupled with a set of nation-building policies affects ethnic conflicts depending on the pre-existing ethnic mix and the distribution of political power among ethnic elite. 
Max Weber Lecture June 2022
"Freedom at the End of History"
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Lea Ypi
(London School of Economics)
1 June 2022
Refectory (Badia)
Introduction and Chair: Benjamin Mueser (MW Fellow, SPS)

 

Abstract
During this lecture Lea Ypi will read from her award-winning book Free: Coming of Age at the End of History (Penguin 2021) and discuss some of its themes: the meaning of freedom, how ideology shapes human lives and the legacies of the transition from state socialism to free-market liberalism at the end of the Cold War. 
Ypi was born in Durrës, Albania in 1979, at a time when the country had dissociated from much of the communist world under long-time dictator Enver Hoxha. “We had split from the Yugoslavs, then split from the Soviets, and then the Chinese,” she recounts in an interview. “When I was growing up, we were completely on our own. But we had this image of ourselves, as the only country in the world that was standing up to all these empires. For children, this was really empowering and grabbed our imagination. The whole world was off the rails and we were the only country in which things were working pretty well.”
In short, there was no reason for Ypi to believe they weren’t. Beyond her father’s idealising of historic revolutionaries, her parents avoided politics and protected Ypi from much of the oppression and censorship that afflicted communist Albania. Ypi – brought up mainly by her cosmopolitan, French-speaking, Ottoman-born grandmother – was left to pursue the life of a zealous young communist: she amassed accolades, certificates, and medals as a Young Pioneer (a communist youth organisation); she wowed an educational panel at the Central Party Committee by spotting the world “collectivisation” in one of Hoxha’s works, despite mispronouncing it; on the occasion of “Uncle Enver’s” funeral, Ypi was left bemused by her parents’ tearless faces. She was a true believer in the Albanian communist cause.
Nevertheless, the West still glimmered from behind the Iron Curtain. “In some ways we idealised what was going on in the West,” she says. “The bubble gum, the sweets, the clothes – we saw these on western children who came to Durrës and they always had these funny things like flashing toys and sun cream. They definitely grabbed my imagination.” In 1990, when socialism gave way to a multi-party state, a crestfallen and confused adolescent Ypi describes the so-called “freedom” that was promised as a “dish served frozen”. In the second half of the book, Ypi writes arrestingly about the human cost of structural reform: the protests, shootings, civil war, mass emigration, and the widespread lay-offs her father reluctantly oversaw under the instruction of the World Bank. The “shock therapy” that the capitalist consultants had administered to transform Albania’s economy was as traumatic as its name implies.
About the Speaker
Ypi is Professor in Political Theory at the London School of Economics and Political Science and Adjunct Professor in Philosophy at the Australian National University. A native of Albania, she has degrees in Philosophy and in Literature from the University of Rome La Sapienza, a PhD from the European University Institute and was a Post-doctoral Prize Research Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford University. Her work has been translated in many languages and recognised with several prizes such as the British Academy Prize for Excellence in Political Science and the Leverhulme Prize for Outstanding Research Achievement. She occasionally writes for the Guardian. Her book Free. Coming of Age at the End of History  recently won the Ondaatje Literary Price.
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