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


  • Beginn: 23.05.2022 14:00
  • Ende: 24.05.2022 18:30
  • Organisation: Max Planck Institute for Legal History and Legal Theory (Research group ‘Translations and Transitions’) and Heidelberg University (ERC research project ‘Entangled Parliamentarisms’)
  • Ort: Online
  • Gastgeber: Egas Bender de Moniz Bandeira, Ivan Sablin
From Empire to Federation: Ideas and Practices of Diversity Management in Eurasia, 1905–1950

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.


Monday, May 23

14:00–15:30, Session 1: Federalism in imperial and revolutionary transformations

Chair: Ayşegül Argit (Heidelberg University) 

Hanna Perekhoda (University of Lausanne), The Russian Revolution and the Territorial Issue of Eastern Ukraine

Ernest Leung (Chinese University of Hong Kong) and Yan Quan (Shanghai University), To Have Your Marble Cake and Eat it Too: Chinese Constitutional Federalism, 1907–1927

Roy Bar Sadeh (Columbia University), The Indian Subcontinent as a Revolutionary Federation: ‘Ubaidullah Sindhi and “Third Way Politics” during the 1940s

16:00 –17:30, Session 2: Translating and appropriating concepts for federalism

Chair: Banu Turnaoğlu (Sabancı University)

Egas Moniz Bandeira (University of Erlangen–Nuremberg), ‘Hunan is the Hunan of the Hunanese’: Reinterpreting the Monroe Doctrine in China

Rama Mantena (University of Illinois, Chicago), Provincializing Democracy: Self-Determination and Federation in Early Twentieth-Century India

Federico Brusadelli (University of Naples ‘L'Orientale’), Translating Federalism in Republican China: A Conceptual Analysis of Chen Jiongming’s Modest Proposal for the Unification of China


Tuesday, May 24

15:00–16:30, Session 3: Federalism in nation-building

Chair: Zülâl Muşlu (University of Vienna)

Maria Falina (Dublin City University), Diversity, Tolerance and Unity: Management of religious life in interwar Yugoslavia

Ivan Sablin (Heidelberg University), Toward a Second Chamber: Diversity and Parliamentary Designs in Russia’s Imperial Transformations, 1905–1924

Tejas Parasher (University of Cambridge), Federalism, Popular Sovereignty, and the Indian Founding

17:00–18:30, Session 4: Federalism and imperial diversity management

Chair: Shuvatri Dasgupta (University of Cambridge)

Takehiro Okabe (University of Helsinki), Taming Pan-Finnism: Entangled Visions of Sovereignty and Autonomy in Finland, Estonia, and Russian/Soviet Karelia, 1905–1952

Alexander Korobeinikov (Central European University, Vienna), Between Two Empires: Siberian Regionalism, Natural Resources, and the Idea of Federation in Postimperial Yakutia

Stefan Gužvica (University of Regensburg), Internationalism Through Nationalism: The Balkan Communist Federation and Nation-Building

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