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A5 Nationising the Dynasty (project completed)

Nationising the Dynasty. Asymmetrical Flows in Conceptions of Government

Coordination: Barbara Mittler, Gita Dharampal-Frick, Thomas Maissen, Bernd Schneidmüller

Abstract

Members of project A5

Members of project A5

The research group A5: “Nationising the Dynasty. Asymmetrical Flows in Conceptions of Government“ is part of research area A: Government and Administration and brought together five PhD students from three different disciplines, namely, medieval and early modern European history (Elise Wintz and Verena Lauer), Sinology (Ulrike Büchsel and Julia Schneider) and South Asian history (Milinda Banerjee).
The group aimed at a comparison of practical and conceptual interactions between dynasties and nations in different historical contexts. In conventional historiography, dynasty and nation are generally considered as opposed entities of idealized rulership which have become exemplary for much of Europe and Asia at different points in time. Sacral-royal metaphysic is presented as the polar opposite of the national ideal. What is new about our project is that we interrogated how far such a dichotomous view can really be sustained. We provoked these enquiries by emphasizing the liminal borders between the monarchic order and the national polity. Through analysis of representations, symbols and rituals as well as engagement with theoretical discourses, myths and mentalities we investigated the symbiotic relations between monarchic dynastism and nationalism, and analyzed how these seemingly opposed conceptions of political order can also interact with, and support, each other.
Conceptually, the group’s research offered a definitive step forward towards critically interrogating and challenging Western definitions of nation and dynasty, and their use in the study of non-Western historical contexts. Moreover, the clear cut differentiation of “dynasty” and “nation” as divergent social and political organizational forms was proven to be unhistorical. On the contrary, the continuity between dynasty and nation was proven to be in many cases as critical in the evolution of modern state forms. We argue that the process of nationizing the dynasty, or in some cases, even of dynastizing the nation, forms a key element in the formation of a modern national body politic.

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