HHIA04105U HIS, Beyond the state and deep into history - state formation, ancient history and modern sociology

Volume 2014/2015
Module I-VI [MA Programme, 2008-Curriculum]
Module I-VI [MA-elective Programme, 2008-Curriculum]
BA-level [Internal BA-elective for BA students of History]
Module T4 (Subject element HHIB10501E) [BA-elective studies, 2007- and 2013-Curriculum]
Module T5 (Subject element HHIB10511E) [BA-elective studies, 2007- and 2013-Curriculum]

Beyond the state and deep into history - state formation, ancient history and modern sociology
How to create political order has become one of the burning issues of our time. The spectre of failed states, sectarian strife, revolution and civil war are everywhere on our horizon. Meanwhile the steady advance of globalization is often said to render existing states obsolete while transnational institutions are required to take over. Should the European Union develop into a super-state or should it leave greater room for the member nations? All this points to a need to re-examine prevalent notions of statehood. Our current understanding of the state has been heavily shaped by the European experience of state-formation from the middle ages onwards. Increasingly, however, that experience seems inadequate. In this course, therefore, we attempt to seek beyond the European experience the better to grasp the prospect of our future. We do so by turning, unexpectedly perhaps, both to ancient history and modern sociology. The first part of our course will test the European experience of state-formation by confronting it with ancient history, from Mesopotamia, to Greece, Rome and the rise of Islam. Armed with a new and widened reading of the history of the state, in the final part, we then approach the present challenges of state-formation worldwide. Come join us for what we hope will be a fascinating and unconventional tour of the ancient past to illuminate the problems of our present.

The course will be structured around two book projects. The first is the Oxford Handbook of the State in the Ancient Near East and Mediterranean, edited by Peter Fibiger Bang & Walter Scheidel, which came out last year. The second, is a book manuscript currently being written by John Hall. John Hall is professor of historical sociology at McGill University in Canada, but will be visiting the Saxo Institute to join our seminar for a couple of weeks.

Course objectives
(clarification of some of the objectives stipulated in the curriculum):

See "Content"

Group instruction / Seminar
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 56
  • Total
  • 56
Type of assessment
Other under invigilation
Criteria for exam assesment