On October 21 and 22, 2005, as one of the major events of its research project on "States of Autonomy," the Center presented

Art of the State: Sovereignty Past and Present.

Douglas Howland (History and 2004-2005 Center Fellow) and
Luise White (History, University of Florida)

Kate Kramer (Center for 21st Century Studies)
conference coordinator

The international conference The Art of the State: Sovereignty Past and Present sought to dispense with the idea that sovereignty accrues naturally to a state. Participants interrogated sovereignty as a set of practices that are historically contingent--a mix of both international and intra-national processes including self-determination, international law, and natural right. Participants examined a number of diverse contexts outside of the normative center of Western Europe in order to explore how states construct themselves and how state forms seek to be sovereign. Rather than try to find one overarching and totalizing definition of sovereignty--one that is ahistorical and transnational--the conference sought to disclose the strategic sovereignties that have informed histories and shaped territories in the modern world. This represents an alternative to recent literature on nationalism, which too often treats nationalism as a precursor to the formation of modern states. The conference took recent debates about nations, national identity, and the political relationships between the two and relocated them in a broader history of sovereignty, territory, and legality. We explored the different ways in which sovereign political forms have been defined and define themselves.

Conference schedule

Art of the State, October 21, 22, 2005

Friday, October 21
Curtin 175

Abbas Ourmazd, Dean of the graduate school and Vice-Chancellor for Research
Daniel J. Sherman, Professor of History and Center Director

Keynote and Questions
Siba N. Grovogui (Political Science, Johns Hopkins University)
"The Multiple and Hidden Lives of Sovereignty"

States and Laws
Eileen Scully (Social Sciences, Bennington college):
"The Second Great Enclosure Movement: Sovereignty,
Mobility, and Nationality in the Late Nineteenth Century"
Douglas Howland (History, UW-Milwaukee):
"The Foreign and the Free: Questions of Extraterritoriality in Nineteenth-century China and Japan"
Mark Bradley (History, Northwestern University):
"The Ambiguities of Sovereignty: Civil Rights Claims and American Engagement in Global Human Rights Politics, 1946-1953"

Moderator: Terry Nardin (Political Science, UW-Milwaukee)

Laws about States
Martha Kaplan and John Kelly (Anthropology, Vassar college/University of Chicago):
"Legal Fictions After Empire"
Luise White (History, University of Florida):
"Sanctioning Independence, or What Does it Take to Be a State?
Rhodesia, 1965-80"
Moderator: Ruud van Dijk (Center for 21st Century Studies,

Saturday, October 22
Hefter Center

States and Outlaws
Aida A. Hozic (Political Science, University of Florida):
"Merchants, Crime, and Sovereignty in the Balkans"
Thomas Lamarre (East Asian Studies, Cornell University):
"Media and the Sovereign Police"
Moderator: K.E. Supriya (Journalism and Mass Communication,

Questions of Territory
Aims McGuinness (History, UW-Milwaukee):
"Sovereignty on the Isthmus: Federalism, Centralism, and U.S. Empire in Panama in the Mid-Nineteenth Century"
Fred Cooper (History, New York University):
"Alternatives to Empire: France and Africa after World War II"
Kevin C. Dunn (Political Science, Hobart & William Smith colleges): "The 'Nature' of Sovereignty: Environmental Security, Spatial Preservation, and State Sovereignty in the African Great Lakes Region"
Moderator: Ellen Amster (History, UW-Milwaukee)

Questions of Populations
Leonard Smith (History, Oberlin college):
"Sovereignty and Wilsonian Idealism in the Middle East: The King-Crane Commission of 1919"
David Tucker (History, University of Iowa):
"Colonial Sovereignty in Manchuria and Manchukuo"
Keith Brown (International Studies, Brown University):
"Sovereignty After Socialism at Europe's New Borders"
Moderator: Edward Hinchman (Philosophy, UW-Milwaukee)

Rob Ricigilano (Institute for World Affairs, UW-Milwaukee)
General Discussion moderated by
Dougland Howland and Luise White



Center for 21st Century Studies

Merry Wiesner-Hanks


Center for 21st Century Studies
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
P.O. Box 413, Milwaukee, WI 53201 USA
tel: 414-229-4141; fax: 414-229-5964; email:



  Last updated 7/10/08 by DSC