The efforts of Russian propagandists to portray the invasion of Ukraine as a conflict between "Eurasian" and "Atlantic" blocs signals the vitality of trans-state and super-state affiliations in the political imagination of intellectuals and activists in our times. In the past, empire was one way of extending power across space and cultural difference; today the nation-state, with its emphasis on cultural commonality and territorial fixity, is considered the standard unit of sovereignty. But political thinkers have for many centuries developed other kinds of projects for expanding political affiliation across large spaces. This talk explores different ways of conceptualising affinity and difference in a world that has been and remains connected and unequal.
About the speakers:
Jane Burbank is Professor Emerita of History and Russian and Slavic Studies at New York University. She is a historian of Russia and, more generally, of law and empire. She is the author of Intelligentsia and Revolution: Russian Views of Bolshevism, 1917-1922; Russian Peasants Go to Court: Legal Culture in the Countryside, 1905-1917; and, with Frederick Cooper, Empires in World History: Power and the Politics of Difference. She was awarded the 2023 Toynbee Prize for her contributions to global history.
Frederick Cooper is Professor Emeritus of History at New York University. He is the author of a trilogy of books on labour and society in East Africa and of Decolonization and African Society: The Labour Question in French and British Africa (1996), Africa Since 1940: The Past of the Present (2002), and Colonialism in Question: Theory, Knowledge, History (2005). He is also co-author with Thomas Holt and Rebecca Scott of Beyond Slavery: Explorations of Race, Labour, and Citizenship in Post-Emancipation Societies (2000) and with Jane Burbank of Empires in World History: Power and the Politics of Difference (2010). He is co-editor with Ann Stoler of Tensions of Empire: Colonial Cultures in a Bourgeois World (1997) and with Randall Packard of International Development and the Social Sciences: Essays in the History and Politics of Knowledge (1997).