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 1815-1914: Creating Community and Ordering the World

by | Jun 19, 2014 | Research projects, Curriculum vitae

Between Restoration and Revolution, National Constitutions and Global Law: 
An Alternative View on the European Century 1815-1914 (EReRe) 

Directed by Professors Martti Koskenniemi and Bo Stråth, University of Helsinki 
Sponsored by the European Research Council (advanced grant)
September 2009-August 2013

Download the full pdf application of the project to the ERC.

Final report

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The Erere Team. Front from the left: Minna Vainio, Francisco Ortega, Kelly Grotke, Markus Prutsch, Adrian Brisku. Back: Liliana Obregón, Tom Hopkins, Martti Koskenniemi, Bo Stråth, Peter Haldén

Europe between 1815 and 1914

The  EReRe Project was established at the University of Helsinki in 2009 to provide an alternative view of the European Century, 1815-1914.  A seminar series in the autumn of 2007, Helsinki Research Seminars, prepared the ground for the sponsoring application to the European Research Council, ERC.  From the outset, we assumed that the century is traversed by themes and tensions that, in one way or another, continue to dominate ideas about European peace and progress today. These need to be highlighted to enable an adequate historical understanding of the difficulties of the present moment, including the nature of the alternatives faced by European decision-makers today. We also insist that focus must reach beyond European institutions to grapple with the themes and tensions that traversed the past two centuries nationally and globally. The present situation results from national, European and global developments at all three levels. They must all be captured in their interrelatedness, which must be done realistically; by realistic, we mean a view of the past as open towards the future, fragile and contentious in its achievements, and contingent rather than deterministic in outcome.

Here is a concise account of the project’s initial considerations:

“Europe today teeters upon a  precipice; the apparent choice placed before its peoples is one between dissolution and a union subordinated to the demands of the bond markets.  Behind the strident political rhetoric accompanying this dilemma lies a profound failure of political imagination that emerges from a deeply a-historical view of Europe’s past.  There is an urgent need for a more realistic history that rejects any teleological understanding of Europe as a  self-propelling project on a steady march towards a predetermined goal.  Instead, the fragility of European peace and progress, so evident today, must be highlighted.  Recent attempts to look for historical analogies to the EU in the American constitutional convention that met in  Philadelphia in 1787 or in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation that collapsed in 1806 ring hollow.  They bypass  Europe’s long experience of violent nation-building and global expansion.  Europe was not born anew in 1945.  The legacies of its past and of the attempts that Europeans have made to deal with that past pervade the institutional structures of contemporary Europe and the mentalities that govern it.  Planning for the future must entail a  reckoning with this past, but such a reckoning must go beyond the conventional  pieties attached to that much-repeated phrase, ‘Never again!’  The dark ambiguities of the European inheritance are no more exhausted by inquiry into the cataclysm of the early twentieth century than its potential is defined by the achievements of the last sixty years.  The conflicts of the interwar years and the political order that emerged as a safeguard against their return were deeply rooted in the political, legal and economic regimes that had emerged in the nineteenth century.  In the late twentieth century, it was common to write European history as an epic of hubris, nemesis and redemption.  A crude narcissism in such self-aggrandizement betrayed the origins of this mode of thinking in the triumphalist histories of earlier generations, and it carried with it the note of special destiny that had characterized them.   However, the idea that Europe continues to struggle with the creations and failures of its moment of ascendancy is powerful, and this research project was conceived in the spirit of that struggle.”

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A smile with Hayden White in front of Johan Vilhelm Snellman, the Hegelian.


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Project meeting with Hayden White.

The project organized weekly seminars with presentations from team members and external guests. Three working groups operated to get deeper into the research problem, each through several workshops: Constitutionalism and the Legalisation of Power, Paradoxes of Peace, and Teleology and History. The latter convened from 2010-2012 in Berlin, Rome, and Hambacher Schloß. For its final meeting on the Saima in Karelia in June 2013, see Helsinki Research Seminars: .

The project resulted in several publications: Martti Koskenniemi and Bo Stråth (eds), Creating Community and Ordering the World 2014, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Sanjay Subrahmnyam, Henning Trüper (eds), Historical Teleologies in the Modern World 2015, Thomas Hippler and Milos Vec, Paradoxes of Peace in the Nineteenth Century Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press 2015, Bo Stråth,  Europe’s Utopias of Peace: 1815, 1919, 1951 2016, Adrian Brisku,Politial Reform in the Ottoman and Russian Empires  2017, Markus Prutsch, Caesarism in the Post-Revolutionary Age. Crisis, Populace and Leadership. Europe’s Legacy in the Modern World. London: Bloomsbury. To the right are Dipesh Chakrabarty and Henning Trüper, co-editors of the Teleology volume.


  • 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