The Holy Alliance of 1815—usually taken to be an ideological mask for Russian power, now most familiar as a label for conspiratorial reaction—was initially embraced by many contemporary liberals as the dawning of a peaceful and prosperous age of progress. In order to explain why, this talk examines the Enlightenment origins of the Holy Alliance and the connections between its history and the better known transatlantic history of nineteenth-century movements to abolish slavery, poverty, and war. In doing so it expands the scope of histories of international law as well as histories of empire in the Atlantic world, and offers a fresh map for understanding the broader history of federalism and global order.
Isaac Nakhimovsky is Associate Professor of History and Humanities at Yale University. His first book, The Closed Commercial State: Perpetual Peace and Commercial Society from Rousseau to Fichte (Princeton, 2011), recast the German philosopher J.G. Fichte as a major contributor to the natural rights tradition who, in the context of the French Revolution, came to undertake a uniquely systematic treatment of national economic independence as an ideal. His next book, Inventing the Holy Alliance: The Strange Birth of a Liberal Ideal, develops a similarly revisionist perspective on the history of liberal internationalism by explaining why so many liberals were initially prepared to embrace the Holy Alliance of 1815 as the dawning of a liberal future and the founding of a federal Europe.
Amsterdam, room TBA and online
Register by sending an e-mail to: email@example.com. Please, specify whether you would like to participate online or in person.
About the Seminar
The Utrecht/Amsterdam Seminar Global Intellectual History is a platform for researchers from different faculties and departments at the University of Amsterdam and Utrecht University who are working in the field of intellectual history and related disciplines. These include, among others, the history of historical, legal and political thought, conceptual history, the social and cultural history of ideas, as well as research at the intersection between intellectual history, institutions, politics, and practices.
Worldwide, intellectual history is moving into new, exciting directions. Tapping into new source materials, covering longer stretches of time, dealing with broader geographical spaces, making comparisons and drawing connections on a global scale, as well as combining established and new (digital) methods, both young and up-coming as well as established experts are in search for new answers – and perhaps more importantly – new questions. The Utrecht/Amsterdam Seminar Global Intellectual History contributes to this development by providing a venue for presenting and discussing frontline research.