(Around the globe) Conference “Government by Expertise: Technocrats and Technocracy in Western Europe, 1914-1973”


University of Amsterdam, 13-15 September 2017


Conveners: Camilo Erlichman (University of Amsterdam) and Peter Romijn (University of Amsterdam/NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust, and Genocide Studies)


Technocracy is the political swearword of our times. From the multiple crises of the European Union to the recent elections in the US, the role of experts in public governance is often invoked as one of the main sources for the political ills of contemporary society, responsible for the exacerbation of social inequalities, the decline in the acceptance of political institutions, and the rise of populist movements. For many, technocratic rule is an elitist project that makes present-day politics unaccountable, detached from the lives and needs of ordinary people, and thus fundamentally irreconcilable with democracy. Defenders of technocracy, by contrast, stress the complexity of the world and the need for specialists with extensive expertise to run what they regard as the increasingly difficult business of government, while pointing to the defects and dangers of a model of democracy that is overly inclusive of and responsive to the people.


Such contemporary discourses around the legitimacy of technocratic governance are not novel, but are part of a long and intricate history of technocratic forms of power in mass democracies. This conference will look at the genealogy of technocracy and the trajectories of various groups of ‘experts’ in western Europe’s mid-20th century. It will explore the relationship between technocracy, war, democracy, and politico-economic orders; trace the role of technocracy in the process of European integration; and explore the gradual ascent of expert groups involved in social engineering, planning, economic management, and the techno-politics of the state. In doing so, it will seek to assess the origins, shape, and legacies of western Europe’s ‘Age of Technocracy’, carving out patterns that continue to influence policymaking in European democracies today.


The conference will kick off on 13 September 2017 at 5.00 pm with a keynote presentation by Professor Philip Nord (Princeton University), who will give a lecture on ‘France’s Age of Technocracy, 1930-1970’. The keynote presentation will be delivered at the VOC Zaal, Bushuis, Kloveniersburgwal 48, 1012 CX Amsterdam. All other sessions will take place at the Doelenzaal, University Library, Singel 425, 1012 WP Amsterdam.







(Around the globe) Guest lecture by Prof. Alexander Semyonov: “From Empire to Nation? The Case of Imperial Transformations of the Russian Empire”

Leibniz-Institut für Geschichte und Kultur des östlichen Europa (GWZO)




12 July 2017


Was transition from empire to nation seen as inevitable at the time of the Great War and ensued political transformations? Was empire a hopeless archaism in the time of progress and reform?


The lecture will critically address the idiom of transition from empire to nation for the period of early twentieth century and explore the range of visions of post-imperial order in the midst of political debates surrounding the explosion of mass politics and revolutionary transformations. The guest lecture will as well situate the case of the imperial transformation of the Russian Empire in the global and comparative context, pondering the puzzle of mismatch between expectations of the contemporaries and the historic outcomes. Indeed, who could predict in 1913 that Russia would take place of the Habsburg empire in taking on federalist solutions to the challenge of the heterogenous imperial space, while the Habsburg and the Ottoman Empire each in its own way would pursue the nationalist and nationalising visions of political future?


Alexander Semyonov is Professor at the Department of History and Director of the Center for Historical Research at the Higher School of Economics in St. Petersburg. ). He received a PhD in History from Central European University in Hungary. Since 2000, Alexander Semyonov is co-founder and member of the editorial board of the international scientific journal »Ab Imperio: Studies of New Imperial History and Nationalism in the Post Soviet Space». In 2016, received the position of visiting research fellow at Regensburg University (Germany) and is an honorary research fellow of Graduiertenschule für Ost- und Südosteuropastudien in Regensburg.


Guest lecture by Prof. Alexander Semyonov: “From Empire to Nation? The Case of Imperial Transformations of the Russian Empire”

(Around the globe) Workshop “Elites, Groups, Networks: Collective Actors in Central and Southeast Europe from the 18th to mid-20th Centuries”

May 8-9, 2017




On May 8-9, 2017 the Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies and the Universitatea Babeş-Bolyai in cooperation with the Leibniz-Institut für Ost- und Südosteuropaforschung (IOS) will host the workshop “Elites, Groups, Networks: Collective Actors in Central and Southeast Europe from the 18th to mid-20th Centuries” in Regensburg. The workshop is convened by Judit Pál (Babeș-Bolyai University), Vlad Popovici (Babeș-Bolyai University) und Graduate School’s Oana-Valentina Sorescu-Iudean.


Concept of the workshop


A glimpse at the historical literature on Central and Southeast Europe during modern times reveals an abundance of references to groups of various nature, dimensions and with varying aims, covering a wide spectrum of activities.
Our workshop aims at bringing together scholars with an interest in, or just dealing with the general topic of groups, with a special focus on the role played by elites and networking in the former’s lifespan, development and legacy. The conceptualization of these groups as collective actors and the analysis of their activity as such, within a milieu of entities alike, open up a path worth exploring within the larger framework of historical research on Central and Southeast Europe during modern times.