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15.12.2019 16:01 Alter: 108 days

Nations, States and the Transformation of Boundaries

Call for Applications

Theme: Nations, States and the Transformation of Boundaries
Type: RVP Annual Seminar
Institution: Council for Research in Values and Philosophy (RVP)
Location: Washington, DC (USA)
Date: 17.8.–18.9.2020
Deadline: 1.4.2020

Thematic Description 

We may say that there are two fundamental histories of nationalism.
One is the history of peoples struggling to be free from the
domination of a stronger neighbor, a colonial power to achieve their
self-governing and sovereign status as nations in their own right.
The other is the history of many instances in which nationalism is
expressed in terms of tribal and civil conflicts, such as the two
major European Civil Wars in 1914-1918 and 1939-1945. After World War
II, ethnic conflicts have been tragically present in the Balkans and
in Cyprus, between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Israel and Palestine, Iran
and Iraq, India and Pakistan, Nigeria or Syria, just to mention a few.

History also registers events such as the Peace of Westphalia in
1648, the Vienna Congress of 1815, the creation of the Society of
Nations after World War I and the founding of the United Nations
immediately after World War II. The annals of the world have
witnessed the processes of the establishment of the European Union,
the creation of the Organization of African Unity, the
intergovernmental forum of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation,
etc., some of the major international organizations express their
attempts to overcome the principle of unlimited state sovereignty.
Limited sovereignty is indeed in the order of the day, even when the
idea of the world government might be dismissed as either utopian or
undesirable. Peoples and nations are called to embrace systems of
governance that go beyond unlimited sovereignty. A peaceful world
demands states that are not just well-governed but also
constitutionally recognize the limits of their strict autonomy; as
well as states that are willing to engage in peaceful cooperation
with others. Since the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
for example, the world is well aware of the need to bring nations
into acceptance of policing structures and an effective enforcement
of justice among nations. Indeed, a major imperative of our time
remains the avoidance of a nuclear war, and consequently the need to
implement systems of governance capable of containing the
indiscriminate proliferation of arms of mass-destruction.

The goal of the 2020 seminar is, thus, to promote a sustained
research on political realities, such as nations and state, ethnicity
and identity, nationalism and cosmopolitanism. In line with some of
Charles Taylor’s intuitions, the seminar will pursue a better and
more effective understanding of those “imagined communities” that are
at the origin of the modern nation-states. Issues concerning power
and political cohesion, law of the state and the people, the meaning
of borders and the conditions for international cooperation will be
at the center of the proceedings. The seminar will also analyze what
Taylor describes as the “shift from hierarchical, mediated-access
societies to horizontal, direct-access societies,” but also
illuminate some of the mechanisms that determine the life of the
citizen within the modern state. In the pre-modern stage citizens
tended to operate as embedded in “translocal entities” and in
dependence of some higher power; while a citizen in the modern state
is to live integrated in a common space defined by “action in secular
time” (Taylor). The investigation will focus on both the formation
and consolidation of the nation-state and how new forms of
state-building and international governance might transform the
system of political order based on the idea of sovereign nations into
something more adequate to the (ethical) demands of our global era.

The seminar thematic can be categorized as the following: State and
Nation: State and Constitution; State and Civil Society; The
Sovereignty of State and People; State and the Rule of Law; State and
Violence; The Democratic State; Political Cultures and the Formation
of Nations; The Totalitarian State; Christianity and the State; Islam
and the State; Judaism and Zionism; State and Nation in German
Idealism. Nationalism: Nationalism and Ethnicity; Nationalism and the
power of Ideologies; Nationalism and the Role of Religion;
Nationalism(s) and Democracy; Romantic Nationalism; Marxism and
Nationalist Questions. Laws and Justice: International Public Law;
Boundaries and Natural Law; Civil and Political Justice; Just and
un-just Wars; War and Peace; National Conflict and Global Solidarity.
Cultures: Ethnos and Polis; Cultural Perspectives on Ethnicities and
Nations; Humanitarian Intervention; Races, Cultures and
State-Formation; Trans-National Political Formations; Confucianism
and Issues of Governance and the Role of Boundaries.


The 2020 annual seminar will proceed with the following

1. A maximum of 15 scholars from different countries around the world
will be selected to take part in the Seminar.

2. As an interdisciplinary and intercultural initiative, the seminar
shall draw not only upon contemporary capabilities of various realms
of humanities and social sciences but also from the richness of
cultural traditions represented by seminar participants.

3. The duration of the Seminar will be 5 weeks (August 17 to
September 18, 2020) and participants will be asked to be present for
the entire five weeks in order to develop a well-integrated community
of research, as participants are encouraged to practice mutual
understanding in order to achieve lasting forms of academic
friendship and cooperation.

4. Seminar participants will present their well-developed papers in
the last week of the seminar. Papers should focus in a rigorous and
innovative manner on the theme of the seminar. The final version of
the paper must reflect in an adequate manner the readings and
discussions to be held during the seminar in order to be considered
for publication.

Application for Participation

Applications for participation in the RVP 2020 international seminar
should be submitted no later than April 1, 2020 by email to Participants will cover their own travel costs; the
RVP/McLean Center will provide simple room and food during the
duration of the seminar.

The seminar will be conducted in English.

The seminar will be held at the RVP/McLean Center Seminar Room:
Gibbons Hall B-12, 620 Michigan Avenue, North East, Washington, D.C.,
20064. Email:; Telephone: 202/319-6089.

Notification of acceptance (or rejection) will take place by April
15, 2020. Upon confirmation of participation, a preliminary set of
readings will be made available for remote preparation.

Those who are interested in participating in the 2020 RVP
international seminar should email the following materials (Word
and/or PDF format):

1. CV describing the applicant’s education, professional positions
and activities;

2. List of applicant’s publications;

3. Statement of interest and motivation to participate in the
seminar; and

4. Abstract (300-500 words) of the research paper that the applicant
intends to present during the seminar and subsequently submit to RVP
for publication (a basic bibliography must be included).

Website of the seminar: