Eric Weitz, University of Minnesota

From the Vienna to the Paris System

Attached File: 
Mon, 10/20/2008
4:30 - 6 PM, Kerstetter Room, Marx Hall
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In this week's LAPA seminar, Eric Weitz, Distinguished McKnight University Professor at the University of Minnesota, will discuss his project, "From the Vienna to the Paris System: International Politics and Entangled Histories of Human Rights, Forced Deportations, and Civilizing Missions." Gary Bass, Associate Professor of Politics and Public Affairs, will be the commentator. The LAPA Seminar series brings LAPA fellows, faculty and students with law-related interests, and visitors from other universities together for a presentation by an author of a current work of legal scholarship. A commentator usually opens the discussion, the author briefly responds, then the floor is opened to the audience for questions.


Minority protection, forced deportations, and the "civilizing mission" emerged together in the last third of the nineteenth century. They were all part of a tectonic shift in political conceptions: from traditional diplomacy to population politics, from mere territorial adjustments to the handling of entire population groups categorized by ethnicity, nationality, or race, or some combination thereof, from the Vienna to the Paris system. Two global areas, the borderlands region of Eastern Europe (and stretching into Anatolia) and Africa, rarely considered together, constituted the critical sites for the emergence of the Paris system. Its history shows that the origins of human rights standards are not as pristine and pure as many recent studies suggest; a major part of their history lies in a way of thinking about populations -- group protection and group rights -- that entailed the very same thought patterns that enabled and promoted forced deportations.

Author and Commentator

Eric Weitz is the Distinguished McKnight University Professor and also holds the Arsham and Charlotte Ohanessian Chair in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota. During 2009-2009, he is also the Stanley Kelley, Jr., Visiting Professor for Distinguished Teaching in the History Department at Princeton. He is a historian of modern Germany with broad comparative and international interests. In fall 2007 Princeton University Press published his book, Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy. He is currently working on the entwined histories of forced deportations and human rights through an examination of the European state system and German imperial practices at home and abroad and he is the series editor of Human Rights and Crimes against Humanity, established with Brigitta van Rheinberg, editor-in-chief of Princeton University Press. His other books include A Century of Genocide: Utopias of Race and Nation and Creating German Communism, 1890-1990. For more information on Professor Weitz, see his web page.

Peter Holquist is the author of Making War, Forging Revolution: Russia's Continuum of Crisis, 1914-1921 (Harvard, 2002) and is Associate Editor for Europe Since 1914: Encyclopedia of the Age of War and Reconstruction (Thomson-Gale, forthcoming 2006). He is founder and editor of the journal Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History and serves as editor for the Kritika Historical Studies (vol. 1, "The Resistance Debate in Russian and Soviet History," 2003; vol. 2, "After the Fall: Essays on Russian and Soviet History after Communism," 2004; vol. 3, "Orientalism and Empire in Russia," forthcoming in 2006). Holquist has published articles on Russia 's experience in the First World War and Russian Revolution, questions of continuity and change from the imperial period into the Stalin era, and other topics.   Holquist's current project, By Right of War, explores the emergence of the international law of war in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Specifically, it analyzes the role of imperial Russia in codifying and extending these "laws and customs of war," and examines to what extent European militaries, and particularly the Russian army, observed these norms in practice.   Holquist received his Ph.D. with distinction from Columbia University in 1995. Prior to joining Penn's History Department in Fall 2006, he taught for nine years at Cornell University.