Agency and State Building in the 16th and 17th centuries.
University of Jyväskylä, Finland, 13th-15th of November 2013
The aim of the conference is to provide new insights into the state building process in the Early Modern period by bringing a new “personal level” to the much-debated state building process, which has so far been mainly studied from a structural perspective as a top-down or bottom-up model. During the early modern years, many far-reaching administrative reforms were carried out, and European monarchies developed into a prime example of the early modern "power-state". But was state building a more diversified and personalized process than has previously been assumed? Many individuals – noblemen, office-holders, etc. – were also crucially important to the process, and the development itself was not a straightforward progression but fundamentally intertwined with the abilities and activities of these “lower-level” actors.
In the Early Modern period, the private and the public were often closely intertwined. By researching individual lives or careers, it is possible to take a look at the period ‘from below’ without forgetting the broader context. The personal approach allows researchers to identify the difficulties, setbacks and missteps with which the state administration had to deal. In addition, this approach makes it possible to study how personal power and institutional power were interwoven. Research from the point of view of personal agency has long remained in the shadow of structures and institutions. With this approach, light can be shed on numerous important questions regarding the nature of administration and the possibilities of state formation.
Proposals that address any configuration of ‘Personal Agency and State Building’ are welcomed from all disciplines. Those interested in a presenting paper at the conference are invited to submit a proposal to firstname.lastname@example.org by the 31st of August, 2013. Proposals should include the following: the participant’s name and affiliation (if applicable), a title and 300-word abstract, email and contact information, and A/V requests for the presentation (we recommend using Power Point).
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