Call for Papers: Nationizng the Dynasty – Dynastizing the Nation

Posted: September 25, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

Funky title, if you ask me, but it looks like a fascinating conference. Not one that I’ll be going to, but certainly worth considering if this is your thing.  Note that the deadline is October 1, so that’s later this week!


International Graduate Conference

Call for Papers

Milinda Banerjee, Ulrike Büchsel, Verena Gander, Elise Wintz
(Heidelberg University, Germany); Julia Schneider (Ghent University,
In cooperation with:
Prof. Patrick Geary, UCLA Center for Medieval & Renaissance Studies

Keynote Speakers:
David A. Bell, Princeton University
Joseph Esherick, University of California, San Diego
Nile Green, University of California, Los Angeles

April 12th-14th, 2012, University of California, Los Angeles, Royce Hall 306
Deadline for applications: October 1st, 2011

Dynasty and nation are often considered as providing fundamentally
different structures of articulating the legitimacy of political rule.
It is assumed that dynastic rule, a fortiori by divine grace, has been
replaced or overwritten by a national body of free and equal citizens
as the principal source of political legitimation (e.g. Anderson
1983/2003; Chatterjee 1994/1999). However, there are many cases in
which both systems were or still are intertwined and complement each
other. The most basic of these forms are the numerous constitutional
monarchies existing until today, in which the nation accepts the
monarch as symbolic head of the state and role model. In other
instances, which have hitherto been little studied, the monarchy might
have disappeared on the surface, but is living on in different
aspects. In many, but not all, instances, the ability of nascent
nationalisms to appropriate past or present dynasties was facilitated
by the efforts of the dynasties themselves to project themselves as
model representatives of the nation. Thus, the research group “A5 –
Nationising the dynasty”, part of the Heidelberg University Cluster of
Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context”, argues that the
shift from dynasty to nation might not be the paradigmatic break
presented by nationalist historiography, but rather a complex
metamorphosis with each system adapting to, or even (re-)constructing,
the other. The underlying aim behind this conference is to critique
the nature of the modern national body politic by looking at it from
the point of view of its putative Other: the dynasty. By doing so, and
especially by locating the dynastic-genealogical nature of many of the
discursive assumptions of nationalism, and also investigating the
specificities of this in different polities, we hope to contribute to
a better understanding of the self-formulation of nationalism as a
mode of historicity and identity. A study of the ways in which royal
dynasties have adapted to nationalism enables a critical understanding
of the politics of representation, and destabilizes any unilinear
historicity which claims that dynasties cannot represent the people.
It also provokes important questions, such as on the continuities
between dynastic modes of violent territorialism and national modes,
or the commonalities between them as regards the creation of a
monistic centre of sovereignty.

Summarily, by combining an approach ‘from above’ (dynasties adapting
to nationalism, that is, nationising of the dynasty) and an approach
‘from below’ (nations appropriating dynastic concepts into their
symbolic repertoire, that is, dynastising of the nation), we aim to
present a theoretical perspective which deconstructs the category of
nationalist modernity by understanding it from the point of view of
one of its so-called ‘premodern’ ancestors: the princely dynasty. We
open up our perspective to all instances of interaction between
dynasties and nationalisms in world history. Dynasties and monarchic
forms of government were present in Asia, Africa, the Americas and
Europe, and their interactions with concepts of nationhood or
nationalist movements in pre-colonial, colonial or postcolonial
contexts will be important fields of exploration at our conference.

Papers are invited on any theme related to the dialogues between
dynasties and concepts of nationhood. Possible themes may include:
* How did princely dynasties try to present themselves as both
representatives and part of the nation, i.e. through the construction
of new, or utilization of existing, liturgies, forms of oath-taking,
iconographic conventions, representation of royal births, marriages
and deaths, moments of coronation and abdication, victory celebrations
and systems of honor.
* How dynasties and the public sphere communicated and what was the
role played by media in this communication?
* How were dynastic concepts appropriated by nationalist thinkers,
artists, historians, politicians, writers?
* What are the relationships between dynasty and religion in
nationalist self-perception (such as the idea that the nation inherits
from the dynasty a certain sacred heritage of national religious
* What kind of subaltern uses of dynastic concepts exist, for example
among ethnic and religious minorities, or economically disempowered
sections of society?
* How can gendered readings help understand the relationship between
dynasties and nationalisms?
* What kind of relationship can one find between dynasties and
anti-colonial movements?
* How could a multi-ethnic dynastic state be transformed into a
nation-state and what would be the role of nationalism in such a
These are only a few instances, and researchers are encouraged to send
papers on any other theme related to the dynasty-nation dialogue which
this conference interrogates. In the process, we hope to develop more
enriching conceptual histories of ‘dynasty’ and ‘nation’, going beyond
the various definitions of these structures in existing scholarship.
Such conceptual histories will also question the universality of the
definitions of “dynasty” and “nation” and attempt to rather study them
as rhetorical tropes legitimating diverse forms of polities which in
fact share little definitional commonality. The extent to which the
very usage of these concepts entails the imposition of ‘European’
concepts (such as primogeniture and natural right) on other societies
will also be investigated.

While we especially invite proposals for panels formed by three
doctoral candidates or postdoctoral researchers, individual
applications are also welcome. Talks should be no longer than 20
minutes . Please send your application including a proposal of no
longer than 200 words and a CV until October 1st, 2011 to Ulrike
Büchsel at In case of a joint
application for a panel, the application should include a panel
proposal of 200 words, proposals for the individual papers of equal
length, and the CVs of all panelists. Successful applicants will be
informed by beginning of November 2011.


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