Integration processes and identity formations. A comparative program.
What holds people together, what makes them willing to fit within larger political structures? The modern nation state long seemed to provide the model answer to this question, based ultimately on the state’s coercive potential, but primarily ensured by the strong collective identity of citizens, and their adherence to a shared political ideology. In recent decades the firm confidence in the nation state and its uniform identity has been eroded by many factors. Increasingly, dominant European and global contexts, and imperfect integration of immigrants have led to socio-political polarisation and provincialism – surprisingly in academic terms as well.
Our project poses the same question, but looks at answers provided by the practices of dynastic rulership in Eurasian empires ca. 1300-1800. These loose structures showed remarkable resilience over time, providing a strong focus for the numerous groups under their rule. We propose to study Eurasian dynastic centres in continental empires outside the set perspectives of the ‘rise of the West’ and ‘European expansion’. Our analysis of patterns of identity formation and compliance around the dynastic centre will reassess age-old images contrasting Asia and Europe. While this comparative perspective focuses on the key question of integration and identity, it takes into account the global connections and conjunctures increasingly manifest from the thirteenth century onwards.
This program provides an agenda for change in the humanities: it goes beyond the narrow national orientation of historical research, breaks through the isolation of area studies, integrates history of art, religious studies, law, anthropology and other social science perspectives. At the same time, our method of joint comparative research by an international multi-language research team offers a starting point for testing and revitalizing the abstractions of comparative history with the contextual knowledge of area specialists.
Prof. Dr. J.A.N. Rietbergen (Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen)
Dr. L.M. van Berkel (Universiteit van Amsterdam)
L.P.J. (Lennart) Bes MA (Radboud University Nijmegen)
W.A. (Willem) Flinterman MA (Amsterdam University)
Ms. Dr. E.M. (Liesbeth) Geevers (Radbout University Nijmegen)
Ms. K. (Kim) Ragetli MA (Radboud University Nijmegen)
H.R. (Hans) Voeten MA (Amsterdam University)
Ms. R.J. Wensma, Program assistant.