Seminar 01 - Histories and Politics of State, Nation, and Identity

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Week 1: Don E. Walicek (University of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico) and Week 2: Christian Cwik (University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago)


The development of new political theories of state during the era of enlightenment have changed our societies in a drastic way. Especially the impact of Rousseau’s The Social Contract and Montesquieu’s “Separation of Power” became the basis of the modern state. Former subjects of kings and queens became citizens of states. As citizens they became officially the state sovereign and were fighting for more political and economic participation within the new system. In the colonies the development was different, because the decolonization process had priority and political participation does hardly play a role. The lack of industrialization in the new independent states prevented the emergence of a proletariat hence the conservative feudal system remained during the age of revolutions. The seminar wants to elaborate the differences between state formation processes in Europe and the Americas based on different examples in different epochs among them: the German Confederation State (1815-1848) versus the United States of America, France versus Brazil, Panama versus Albania, Venezuela versus Yugoslavia, Gibraltar versus Anguilla. The seminar will also discuss new state projects such as Catalunya.


Students will explore the expression of individual human experiences at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and instances in which the U.S. Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay has figured prominently in the collective conscience of Americans as well as populations in the Caribbean and Latin America. Special attention will be given to the occupation of the bay by the U.S. during the Spanish-American War, episodes in which tens of thousands of Cuban and Haitian refugees were held there in the 1990s, and the operations of the prison for suspected terrorists established there in the aftermath of 9/11. Factors leading to Guantánamo’s emergence role as a place that has impacted the formation of states, nations, military policies, and identities will be considered.

Christian Cwik


(University of the West Indies, Trinidad & Tobago)

Short CV:   >> open <<

Don E. Walicek

(University of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico)

Short CV: Coming soon

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