Throughout Europe, the 19th century saw the growth and modernisation of many levels of administration. The state-building process frequently led to the introduction or consolidation of sub-national, or territorial, representatives of the government such as governors and prefects. Many types of representatives of the state have existed in Europe, and many still do. Long, historical research into territorial administration and state representatives was nationally-orientated and disregarded the cultural dimension. As a result, European territorial administration and state officials are scarcely explored from a historical-comparative or cross-cultural viewpoint.
Recently, instigated by Pierre Karila-Cohen (Rennes 2/Institut Universitaire de France), an international group of researchers, inspired by developments in various disciplines, has taken up the challenge of filling this historiographical gap. Colloquiums were held in 2015 and 2016, in Rennes (see http://www.sites.univ-rennes2.fr/cerhio/spip.php?article1699 and https://www.univ-rennes2.fr/cerhio/actualites/colloque-international-civils-militaires-dans-administration-territoriale). The objective of this 3th colloquium, to be held at the Open Universiteit (Campus Vrije Universiteit Brussel), is to further the understanding of territorial officials and administration from a transnational point-of-view.
Within the humanities, the past decades have seen the development of transnational approaches to problematize the nation-state as a unit of analysis. A striking paradox in the history of state-building is that nation-states frequently were shaped using foreign examples. Even though states underscored the national character of their institutions, reforms actually emerged from transnational communication. Both in the social sciences and humanities, the notion of ‘circulation’ has taken root to examine contemporary travelling concepts on good (public) governance, and the intermediaries that transgressed national borders, thus facilitating the exchange of ideas. Drawing on these strands in research, this colloquium proposes to investigate territorial governance and state representatives through the prism of ‘circulation’.
See also the call for papers.