• A
  • A
  • A
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
Regular version of the site

190068 Saint Petersburg
123 Griboedov channel, Room 123

Phone:+7 (812)786-92-49 

Postal address: 
190068 Saint Petersburg
123 Griboedov channel

Department Head Adrian A. Selin
Academic Supervisor Evgeniy Anisimov
Remembering the Neoliberal Turn: Economic Change and Collective Memory in Eastern Europe after 1989

Gökarıksel S., Gontarska O., Hilmar T. et al.

L.: Routledge, 2023.

Book chapter
The Stolbovo Treaty and Tracing the Border in Ingria in 1617–1618

Adrian Selin.

In bk.: Sweden, Russia, and the 1617 Peace of Stolbovo. Vol. 14. Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, 2024. P. 99-118.

Working paper
The Image of the Past in Ciro Spontone’s ‘Historia Della Transilvania’

Khvalkov E., Levin F., Кузнецова А. Д.

Working Papers of Humanities. WP. Издательский дом НИУ ВШЭ, 2021

Seminar "Civil War: A History in Ideas" & "Horizons of the History: Time, Space and the Future of the Past"

The regular seminar “Boundaries of History” took place on May 26, 2016, where the presentation called “Civil War: A History in Ideas” was made by professor David Armitage. He is the Lloyd C. Blankfein Professor of History and Chair of the Department of History at Harvard University, where he teaches international history and intellectual history. David Armitage is also an Affiliated Professor in the Harvard Government Department and at Harvard Law School and is an Honorary Professor of History at the University of Sydney.

The main theme of the presentation was the phenomenon of the Civil War. In modern society, this concept is used everywhere. However, D. Armitage claims, that it has a much longer history, dating back to the days of ancient Rome (if not the Peloponnesian War). Indeed, conflicts called “civil wars” appeared on each continent during centuries. Moreover, the presentation's author notes that now civil wars seemed to be the most typical forms of conflict, and wars between two states occur less frequently. In the speech, David Armitage defines a civil war as a cruel and unpredictable conflict, which sometimes does not have the “logical end”.

The term “civil war” (bellum civile) was invented by the Romans in the first century BC. This phenomenon separated the riots and rebellions from a more serious and formalized types of violence, occurred inside a country. Pointing out that the origins of the concept appeared in ancient Rome Armitage said that the transformation of the phenomenon and its ideological content can be investigated over the “longue dure’e” - twenty-two centuries. The speaker highlighted two features of civil wars: their "infinity" and "endurance". 

David Armitage admitted that so-called "endless wars" often are not completely new conflicts but they are the resumption of civil wars which last for centuries. The ancient Romans compared the civil war with volcano. It is destructive in itself, and even at rest it keeps society in tension, because it can erupt again at any time. 

Tracing the history of the concept, the speaker said that the Roman descriptive representations of the civil war phenomenon appeared to be the crucial to the entire Western world and its colonies until the early nineteenth century. From the Roman civil wars to the second half of the XVIII century, these conflicts were understood mainly in line with the state inside problems. However, with the American and French revolutions, the issues of international recognition and foreign intervention coming to the core of this kind of conflict, for the first time. Thus, the phenomenon of civil war became more complex, changing from a "war between the citizens inside the country" to the political action which has an impact on the entire world community. Indeed, in the next two centuries, for example, during the Spanish Civil War, and especially during the Cold War, certain powers have become more involved in making an influence on different sides in civil wars. With the help of emergent international institutions, foreign states can act in support of one side of a domestic conflict by way of their own interests in the region. 

In today's world, the question of the phenomenon of civil war is still very relevant. During the twenty-first century, almost all of the wars have a status of "civil". Statistically speaking, since 1945 the world has seen more than 259 armed conflicts, and over 95% of these conflicts were interior. The vast majority of them can be called "internationalized civil wars," because they involve almost all the border states or other external agents. In 2014, thirty-nine of the forty active conflicts in the world were this kind of conflicts, for example, in Mali, Afghanistan, Somalia and other countries. Moreover, a rethinking of the concept of the civil war as a political action, spreading its influence far beyond one state, and it is also connected with the vital phenomenon of mass migration. 

The presentation led to a vivid discussion. Questions were about the limits of applicability of the "civil war" concept in the context of the modern era. Also students of the history department discussed whether a civil war can have a "logical end". Question the civil war has opened prospects for the discussion of issues of historical memory and commemorative strategies.

Horizons of the History: Time, Space and the Future of the Past

The regular international scientific seminar “Boundaries of History” took place on May 25, 2016, where the presentation called “Horizons of History: Time, Space and the Future of the Past” was made by professor David Armitage. He is the Lloyd C. Blankfein Professor of History and Chair of the Department of History at Harvard University, where he teaches international history and intellectual history. David Armitage is also an Affiliated Professor in the Harvard Government Department and at Harvard Law School and is an Honorary Professor of History at the University of Sydney.

The main theme of the presentation was the discussion of new book written by Jo Guldi and David Armitage. The presentation itself was made based on the D. Armitage’s paper “Horizons of History: Time, Space and the Future of the Past” in History Australia(2015). In general, report made several conceptual questions such as what explains this broadening of horizons? How might transnational and transtemporal history be linked? And what do they mean for the future of history?

David stated to present his own thesis by thinking about the future of History as a discipline. This is quite important even for contemporary students just to reflect the place and field of history in universities and in social institutions. Across the world – especially in the English-speaking parts of it – there is now a much-discussed so-called ‘crisis of the humanities’. The motors of the current crisis, which has local manifestations in different countries, are many and miscellaneous: sharply declining enrolments in our classrooms; the controversial rise of massive open online courses; the shifting boundaries between scientific and non-scientific disciplines which can make humanistic studies seem to some quaint or luxurious; and the squeezes on public (and private) university revenues that inform them, among other factors.

According to David, the comparative advantage for historians is to see a perspective: historians can see that there have been recurrent crises of the humanities over the past 50 years or more and that this particular crisis is nothing new. What is certain is that the humanities do perceive themselves to be embattled and are on the defensive, throughout and beyond the English-speaking world; and their methods – particularly, the long-term analytical perspective afforded by History – can help to identify meaningful rather than misplaced causes for concern.

What might be done to snatch History from the bonfire of humanities? History, understood as an inquiry into the past, has been pursued in various forms for over 2000 years; of course, ‘inquiry’ is the etymological meaning of the Greek word from which the term ‘history’ and its analogues in other European languages derive. Concerning the idea of history-consumption, D. Armitage says it is only in the past half-century that History gradually lost its public, future-oriented mission and author though there are signs that its vocation may be returning.

History’s place in public life remains fragile and uncertain, to the point that historians now occupy very little space in policy debates, whether national, international, or global. New directions in historical work can help bring historians back into the marketplace of ideas. History is broadening its horizons in space and expanding its horizons in time. Transnational history rejects the national frame that has structured so much historical writing since it became professionalised in the late nineteenth century; 15 transtemporal history revolts against conventional periodisations, especially those produced on the roughly biological timescales of, say, 20–50 years, that have characterised most historical writing since the 1970s.

Like most other social scientists, historians assumed that self-identifying nations, organised politically into states, were the primary objects of historical study. The main tasks for historians of these communities were, accordingly, to narrate how nation-states emerged, how they developed, and how they interacted with one another. Even those historians whose work deliberately crossed the borders of national histories worked along similar lines and reaffirmed those borders. For example, diplomatic historians used national archives to reconstruct relations among states. Historians of immigration (not emigration) tracked the arrival and assimilation of new peoples into existing states. And imperial historians studied empires as the extensions of national histories. In all these fields, the matter of history concerned stability not mobility, what was fixed but not what was mixed.

According to David, nowadays the increase number of historiography allows to implement prospective four such as international, transnational, comparative and global history that move forward the national frameworks constructed by previous stratum of historiography.

All of these mentioned by D. Armitage crises have deep roots, stretching back respectively to the mid twentieth century and the rise of modern international institutions, the late nineteenth century and the acceleration of capitalism, or the late eighteenth century with the beginnings of the Anthropocene, at a minimum. History is not reducible to path-dependency. The future need not run in the ruts of the past. It is possible to jump the tracks and take a new direction, just as it is feasible to go back through the past to discover paths not taken. Only by scaling our inquiries over so many decades, centuries, or even millennia, can we hope to understand the genesis of our present discontents. Only by delving deep into the past can we hope to project ourselves imaginatively any meaningful distance into the future.

For these reasons, Armitage says, the future of the past is in the hands of historians. Armed with both transnational and transtemporal perspectives, historians can be guardians against parochial perspectives and endemic short-termism. Once called upon to offer their advice on political development and land reform, the creation of the welfare state and postconflict settlement, historians, along with other humanists, effectively ceded the public arena, nationally as well as globally, to the economists and occasionally to lawyers and political scientists. When was the last time a historian wrote a regular column for the New York Times or was seconded to Downing Street or the White House from an academic post, let alone consulted for the World Bank or advised the UN SecretaryGeneral? It may be little wonder, then, that we have a crisis of global governance that we are all at the mercy of underregulated financial markets and that anthropogenic climate change threatens our seas and cities, our food-supplies and water-sources, political stability and the survival of species, to mention just a few foreseeable but increasingly unavoidable consequences. To put these challenges in perspective, and to combat the short-termism of our time, we urgently need the wideangle, long-range views that only historians can provide.

Speech by David Armitage was ended by a vivid discussion during which were discussed in more detail certain models of teaching history and its role in universities, some important goals of global and transnational history and several conceptual aspects of horizons of history.