Amsterdam workshop: Republican Experiences in the Enlightenment, 1st of December 2017

Our research team had the privilege to be invited to attend a workshop on the republican experiences in the Enlightenment by the colleagues from the University of Amsterdam. The workshop was a fruitful and inspiring meeting carried out in a cordial atmosphere, which was especially beneficial to our research team which could present and consult some preliminaries of the project as well as some early-stage findings and receive valuable feedback.

The programme of the workshop:

The considerable variety of republican institutions and ideas that existed in the eighteenth century has been widely acknowledged in the historiography, but much remains unknown about the ways in which republicans from this era assessed their place in a changing world. While their ideas and institutions stand in a long tradition that dates back to Antiquity, the Enlightenment also gave rise to new ways of organizing and conceptualizing society. The proposed workshop focuses on contemporary approaches to the challenges that republics faced in the eighteenth century as a result. It is of particular interest how this republican experience of a changed present led authors to re-evaluate their relationship to both the past and the future. They were confronted with a number of questions, such as: what had exactly changed? How to evaluate that change and its consequences? How to deal with these altered circumstances and bring about a better future? While these questions were shared by eighteenth-century republicans, their reactions depended to a large extent on their particular context. In order to deepen our understanding of the variety of republican experiences in the Enlightenment, the workshop will bring together two research communities that study rather different republican contexts: the commercial experience of the United Provinces of the Netherlands and agrarian republics such as the Swiss Confederacy.



10.30-11.00 Eleá de la Porte (UvA): Commerce and civilization. The Dutch republic in the enlightened narrative 

11.00-11.30 Jan Rotmans (UvA): Commerce, civilization and moral corruption. Conceptual tension in Dutch Enlightenment thought

11-45-12.15 Lina Weber (UvA): A post-commercial threat. The rentier in the Dutch Enlightenment

12.15-12.45 Mathijs Boom (UvA): The history of the earth and the history of society. Changing perspectives in the late Enlightenment 

13.45-14.45 Béla Kapossy (Lausanne): Vattel and the spirit of legislation

14.45-15.15 Auguste Bertholet (Lausanne): Between agrarianism and urban mass production. Cottage industry in eighteenth-century Vaud 

15.15-15.45 Radoslaw Szymanski (Lausanne): The counts Mniszech and their European project of Polish reform

15.45-16.30 Graham Clure (Lausanne): The political economy of the general will. Rousseau and the problem of Poland in Enlightenment political thought 

16.30-17.00 Concluding remarks by Ida Nijenhuis (Huygens ING) and Wyger Velema (UvA)