Collegium Carolinum,the German Historical Institute Warsaw, and the Leibniz-Institute for History and Culture in Eastern Europe in collaboration with the American Center – U.S. Embassy Prague cordially invite you to the lecture
PROF. JOHN CONNELLY (UC BERKELEY)
The Problem of Continental Imperialism: German and Russian Empires in Comparative Perspective
Monday, April 3, 2023, 5 p.m.
American Center, Tržiště 13, 1st floor, Praha 1 – Malá Strana
The lecture will probe a thesis in comparative imperial history: whether deep historical similarities help explain why Germany and Russia became totalitarian regimes, unleashing unprecedented violence upon the planet. Both countries shared an unusual history: the attempt to make nation state and empire coincide. Arguably, efforts to turn a variety of peoples – Czechs were supposed to be Germans and Ukrainians Russians for instance – into unified nations created explosive energies, but also challenges to legitimacy in a time of supposed national self-determination. Hannah Arendt called these unusually predatory edifices, perennially feeling threats from all directions within and without, "continental empires". Empire (Reich) was the central organizing concept of all German states attempted after 1806, including the Weimar Republic, and including all the space of the old Reich, but Germany was forced to break with its imperial tradition after 1945. Russia, however, did not, to the contrary. Precisely because of Russia's supposed central role in destroying the German Reich – the epitome of historical evil – the legacy of a virtuous and necessary Russian Empire survives into our day.
John Connelly is the Sidney Hellman Ehrman Professor at the University of California, Berkeley. He studied Russian and East European Studies at the University of Michigan and International Relations at Georgetown University and received his PhD in History from Harvard University. He is the author of From Peoples into Nations: A History of Eastern Europe (Princeton University Press, 2020), From Enemy to Brother: The Revolution in Catholic Teaching on the Jews (Harvard University Press, 2012), and Captive University: The Sovietization of East German, Czech, and Polish Higher Education, 1945-1956 (University of North Carolina Press, 2000).