Bo Stråth


Bo Stråth (Curriculum Vitae) was 2007-2014 Finnish Academy Distinguished Professor in Nordic, European and World History and Director of Research at the Department of World Cultures / Centre of Nordic Studies (CENS), University of Helsinki. 1997-2007 he was Professor of Contemporary History at the European University Institute in Florence, and 1991-1996 Professor in History at the University of Gothenburg. He is a member of The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.

Europe’s Cultural Heritage and Political Culture

by | May 19, 2006 | Conferences, Curriculum vitae

Conferences in the framework of the research project “Europe’s ‘cultural heritage’ reconsidered: rupture and continuity in European cultural orientations.”
directed by Bo Stråth and Peter Wagner

The Human Subject and Community in European Philosophy and Theology: Perspectives from East and West

Organiser: Kristina Stöckl (EUI)

Date: 19/05/2006
Place: Sala Europa (Villa Schifanoial
at the European University Institute, Florence.


Europe is frequently taken to be synonymous with modernity and with a Western
world that features liberal democracies, market economies, secular societies, and
individualistic identities. In reality, the modern constellation of Europe is tension-ridden in the
light of the success of populist parties in several European countries, the crises of some
major European economies, the return of the religious into the orbit of secular society, and
the critique of positivism in the sciences and in philosophy. In addition, countries with a cultural
and religious background different from the Occident, i.e. Orthodox Eastern Europe and
Turkey are returning to the Western European political horizon, and this raises important
questions about the cultural heritage of Europe and about the extent to which Europe is
ready to face its own multiplicity. Europe’s self-understanding is being challenged from
within by voices critical of the liberalist, capitalist and individualist features of modernity and
from outside by newcomers who do not share all the characteristics of the modern trajectory
of Europe.
One salient issue in this respect is the treatment of the human subject and
community, whose classical framing of individualism and liberalism has been
discussed controversially in contemporary political philosophy. The workshop aims
to discuss a variety of perspectives on the human subject and community which arise out of
the multiplicity of the European cultural and intellectual traditions and which share the
consciousness of the problematic and potentially inadequate nature of the liberalist
individualist paradigm and the awareness of the non-viability of substantive formulations of
subjectivity and collectivity in the light of totalitarian experiences of the 20th century. The
workshop wants to provide a forum for speakers of different philosophical and religious
backgrounds who reflect on the questions how we conceptualize community and what
notions of the self and its relation to the other lie at its basis. What do their approaches have
in common? How are they different? How do these approaches go beyond merely critiquing
the modernist paradigm of individualist liberalism? What can they – and their dialogue –
contribute to a better understanding of the challenges facing an ever closer and larger
The workshop invites speakers to present a range of Western perspectives on the
human subject and community that may derive from a religious, non- or anti-religious,
communitarian or post-modern background. The scope is the formulation of a

community and human subjectivity concept
that stems from a critical engagement with Western
metaphysics without abandoning the fundamental predicament of the person’s freedom.
From the Eastern perspective, the workshop invites speakers with an Orthodox
background. This focus is motivated by the fact that 20th-century Orthodox thought has
shared much of contemporary Western philosophy©s concern with the inadequacy of classical
metaphysics and has proposed alternative views on anthropology and ontology based on Orthodox theology. The intellectual ©gesture© of much of this theology – a retrieval of the
very beginnings of thinking about God, man and the world in the works of the Byzantine
Church Fathers – is reminiscent of the recognition of the need to go beyond established
paradigms in contemporary Western philosophy. The conference aims
to give
substance to this preliminary observation in a direct exchange of ideas between the invited

Programme (pdf)

Politics of Agreement? Consensualism in Austria and Finland

Workshop at the European University Institute/RSC (Bo Stråth) in cooperation with the EU Project “A Framework for Socio-Economic Development in Europe? The Consensual Political Cultures of the Small West European States in Comparative and Historical Perspective” .

Organiser: Helmut KONRAD (University of Graz)
Henrik STENIUS (University of Helsinki)

Date: 27 October 2005
Place: Villa Schifanoia/La Capella

Programme (pdf)

The Roman Empire in Comparative Perspective

Workshop – organised in the framework of the research project „Europe’s ‚cultural heritage‘ reconsidered: rupture and continuity in European cultural orientations“ directed by Bo Stråth (HEC) and Peter Wagner (SPS)

Organiser: Johann P. Arnason
Coorganised by EUI, the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study in the Social Sciences and the Israel Academy of Science
Date: 9-10 May, 2005
Place: Villa Schifanoia, Sala Europa

Programme (pdf)


The decline of the Roman Empire is often regarded as the most significant single historical process that gave birth to Europe. This workshop will critically examine both the explanations for what is known as ‚decline‘ of the law-based, universally-minded, yet imperial polity and the socio-cultural restructuring in its aftermath. Particular themes to be addressed are:

Comparative perspectives on the Roman Empire: From city-state origins to imperial crisis: It has become increasingly clear that a broader comparative study of empires would improve our understanding of the Roman case, and since it can be argued that the Roman experience has had a uniquely strong and lasting influence on European notions of empire, a comparative approach would also help to develop a less Eurocentric vision of the field. This part of the workshop will discuss the Roman Empire’s city-state origins, its growth into a pan-Mediterranean civilizational complex, and the trends that led to its third-century general crisis. The comparative perspective must be very selective – it will include earlier Near Eastern empires, especially the Assyrian trajectory from city-state to empire, but also some discussion of contrasts and parallels with the early phase of Chinese imperial history.

The Roman world as a matrix of civilizational development, with particular reference to the formation of Western Christendom: Here, the emphasis will be on late antiquity (from the 4th to the 7th centuries, to use the most plausible but not uncontroversial chronological definition) as a mutation of the classical world. The rediscovery (or, as some critics would have it, the invention) of late antiquity is a relatively recent development with far-reaching implications for our view of European history, but it has not gone uncontested. It will, therefore, be important to hear the case for both sides and to discuss ways of reformulating what one historian has called the „vanishing paradigm“ of the fall of Rome. The workshop’s agenda relates most directly to the formation of Western Christendom, but this question must be considered in the context of a plurality of roads beyond late antiquity.

Cultural Dialogue

Workshop – organised in the framework of the research project „Europe’s ‚cultural heritage‘ reconsidered: rupture and continuity in European cultural orientations“

Organiser: Bo Stråth and Peter Wagner
Date: 28/10/2004
Place: Villa Schifanoia, Sala Europa


This workshop aims to theoretically develop alternatives to the „clash of civilisations “ approach. Theoretical means critically reflecting key concepts in modernity, religion, culture and dialogue. What is cultural dialogue and what are its preconditions?

Schedule (pdf)


  • Monographs
  • Anthologies
Creating Community and Ordering the World
A European Memory
A European Memory?
European Solidarities
European Solidarities
Reflections on Europe
Reflections on Europe
The Economy as a Polity
The Economy As a Polity
A European Social Citizenship
A European Social Citizenship?
Representations of Europe and the Nation in Current and Prospective Member States
States and Citizens History Theory Prospects
States and Citizens
The Meaning of Europe
The Meaning of Europe
From the Werner Plan to the EMU
From the Werner Plan to the EMU
Europe and the Other and Europe as the Other
Europe and the Other and Europe as the Other
Myth and Memory in the Construction of Community
Myth and Memory in the Construction of Community
AFTER FULL EMPLOYMENT European Discources on Work and Flexibility
After Full Employment
Enlightenment and Genocide Contradictions of Modernity
Enlightenment and Genocide, Contradictions of Modernity
Department of History and Civilization Nationalism and Modernity EUI Working Papers
Nationalism and Modernity
The Postmodern Challenge Perspectives East and West
The Postmodern Challenge
The Cultural Construction of Norden
The Cultural Construction of Norden
Comparativ Wohnungsbau im Internationalen Vergleich Heft 3-1996
Wohnungsbau im internationalen Vergleich
Language and the Construction of Class Identities
Language and the Construction of Class Identities
Idylle oder Aufbruch
Idylle oder Aufbruch?
Democratisation in Scandinavia in Comparison