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Colloquium on 'Unions of States in Historical Perspective'

last modified Apr 22, 2015 07:54 PM

On Monday 16 March, The Project for Democratic Union (PDU), Henry Jackson Society and the Forum on Geopolitics co-hosted an event at Millbank Tower aimed at exploring a diverse series of historical case studies of political union, and what lessons we can derive about how to tackle the urgent challenges facing present-day Europe.

The panel of speakers was comprised of graduate students, past and current, from LSE and the University of Cambridge. The programme covered a wide chronological, geographical and thematic range.

  • Ingram Davidson (Cambridge) argued a case for recognising some essential conceptual and causal linkages between the two major political unions of 1707, in a paper entitled 'The Anglo-Scottish and the Spanish Unions of 1707'. 
  • Adam Malczak (LSE) presented a lively and compelling paper on one of the more unusual political unions of the modern era: 'Union or unequal partnership: The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the perils of powerful legislatures'.
  • Daniel Robinson (Cambridge) explored how, as early as 1880, the influential historian, Sir John Seeley, argued vehemently for a united state of Europe, only to reverse this position within a few years: 'Sir John Seeley, the "United States of Europe", and the Imperial Federation Movement'.
  • Francesca Foglia (LSE) demonstrated how certain aspects of the constitutional settlement created in the aftermath of the mid-nineteenth century Swiss civil war provide elements of an alternative model for successful, consultative, multi-cultural federalism: 'The Evolution of Swiss Federalism and its Finalité Politique'.
  • Vsevolod Samokhvalov (Cambridge) concluded the colloquium with a probing investigation of regional specificities in recent events in Ukraine: 'Decentralisation, Federalism and Secession in Ukraine'.

The ensuing discussions were chaired by:
Dr John Bew
Reader in History and Foreign Policy at the War Studies Department at King's College London (KCL) and Director of KCL's International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence. He is the author of numerous works relevant to the understanding of the British constitution, including Castlereagh: Enlightenment, War and Tyranny, was published (Quercus Press, 2011) and The Glory of Being Britons: Civic Unionism in Nineteenth-Century Belfast (Irish Academic Press, 2009).

Dr Charlie Laderman
Research Fellow at Peterhouse Cambridge and the author of numerous articles on US foreign policy and humanitarian intervention in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Denis MacShane
Former Europe Minister of the United Kingdom and the author of Brexit: How Britain will leave the Union (I.B. Tauris, 2015).

Prof. Brendan Simms
Professor of the History of European International Relations at Cambridge University and the President of the Henry Jackson Society and the Project for Democratic Union. He is the author of 'Europe: The struggle for supremacy, 1453 to the present' (Penguin Press, 2013).