CFP: From Empire to Federation: Ideas and Practices of Diversity Management in Eurasia, 1905–1950

Ivan Sablin Discussion

Heidelberg University (Dr. Ivan Sablin) and Max Planck Institute for Legal History and Legal Theory (Dr. Egas Moniz Bandeira) invite paper proposals for the Conference “From Empire to Federation: Ideas and Practices of Diversity Management in Eurasia, 1905–1950,” to take place online on May 23–24, 2022.


The global imperial crisis of the early twentieth century stimulated the debates on the alternatives to dynastic or external rulership in Eurasia, from the Balkans in the West to the Dutch East Indies in the East. Together with the widely spread discourse of national independence, the ideas of federation and autonomy proved extremely popular in the imperial and colonial intellectual circles. Unlike nation-states, federations and states with autonomies allowed to resolve the crisis of sovereignty without undermining the integrity of postimperial and postcolonial economic and social spaces. Given the multiplicity and dynamics of social categories in the composite spaces of empires, it was not only ethnicity (nationality), but also religious and regional categories which were politicized and used for the justification of federal and autonomous designs. The discourses of decentralization and reintegration of economic and social spaces on new principles circulated across the existing borders, spreading across different contexts, and contributed to a variety of outcomes of the postimperial and postcolonial transformations in Eurasia.


The conference will discuss the ideas as well as the legal and political practices of diversity management after empire in the Russian Empire/the USSR, the Qing Empire/China, India, the Ottoman Empire, the Habsburg Empire, Yugoslavia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Czechoslovakia, and elsewhere. In particular, it will focus on the development of federal and autonomous projects and their justifications, on the constitutional and parliamentary approaches to federalism and autonomism, and on their practical implementation.

Please submit an abstract of up to 300 words and a brief biographical statement to by January 15, 2022. The invited participants will be expected to provide a draft by May 1, 2022. The convenors plan to submit a selection of papers for publication as an edited volume.