To find out more about past Council for European Studies events, please explore the links below. 



The Shoah: A Turning Point, June 14 - 16, 2016

The Shoah undermined philosophical, theological and cultural paradigms. The Enlightenment and Western society were put on trial and found wanting; humanism collapsed in its moment of truth. Religions were likewise forced to confront fundamental questions: Where was God in Auschwitz? Christianity had to confront its anti-Semitic heritage and collusion in the Nazi regime. Judaism had to reconsider the "chosen people" and long exilic traditions. The crises of Enlightenment and religion manifested the pressing need for an overhaul of international relations, political thought, artistic representation, and many other cultural fields. Seven decades after the end of World War II, the long term impact of the Shoah can be assessed and examined in a panoramic mode. It is time to examine whether and how the Holocaust has altered our épistème, or ended up assimilated into existing conceptions. 

  • Empire, Socialism and Jews I - IV

Empire, Socialism and Jews IV banner

The 2016 – 2017 academic year will see the fifth installment of the workshop series ‘Empire, Socialism and Jews.’ The goal of this series of workshops is reconceptualize the Austrian Empire’s place in Central European history and to write the Empire back into the Austrian national narrative. The project tracks the interaction between the Austrian imperial legacy, socialism and European Jewry. Previous workshops held in this series include Empire, Socialism and Jews IV: The Interwar Years (April 24 – 26, 2016, Duke University), Empire, Socialism and Jews III: Revolution, Emancipation, & Mass Politics (May 28 – 29, 2015, Vienna, Austria), Empire, Socialism and Jews II: Socialist Women and Alternative Subjectivities in late Imperial Austria (March 2013, Duke University), and Empire, Socialism and Jews I (Duke University).

An in-depth exploration of the work of Élie Halévy and the politics of the French Third Republic.


Peter Euben’s work has been at the forefront of both democratic and ancient political theory for several decades, and he is largely responsible for the renewed interest in Greek tragedy within academic political theory today.  As a scholar Euben demonstrates the importance of tragedy as an institution of Athenian democracy, but perhaps more importantly he articulates the enduring relevance of the tragic sensibility for how we currently think about ethics and politics.  He also continues to be a first-rate mentor of graduate students, and was a celebrated teacher of undergraduates both at Duke and at UC Santa Cruz before that.  Duke University is honored to celebrate his life and work with this two-day event.

Future of Democratic Capitalism

More than a decade has gone by since the publication of Continuity and Change in Contemporary Capitalism (1999), itself a follow up on the earlier Order and Conflict in Contemporary Capitalism (1984). Both volumes took stock of major economic challenges advanced industrial democracies faced, as well as the ways political and economic elites understood and dealt with them by building institutions and enacting policies that ultimately shaped citizens’ quality of life.

But capitalism and democracy have not stood still in what now may be more appropriately termed postindustrial capitalism. During this time, political economies and their external environment have undergone significant changes. Along the way, the analytical toolkit to understand these changes has also gained in sophistication, complexity, and precision. New realities demand new analytical tools and the regular revision of the basic framework to understand cross-national differences and changes over time.

The conference, Religion & Identity in Europe and Beyond: Between Hybridity and Ethnicity, will explore recent scholarly trends in understanding religious and national identity. Our focus is on contemporary “European” identity, but with an eye to global comparisons that inform European Studies. Some of the central themes are: religiosity, ethnicity and nationalism in modern Europe, a Judeo-Christian Europe, and strategies for minority (especially Muslim) survival in Christian and Muslim societies.

Human Rights

Human rights have emerged from the concept of natural rights and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen during the American and French Revolutions in the eighteenth century, and culminated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948, when it was adopted by the UN General Assembly. However, it was not until the 1970s that human rights discourse has begun dominating global agendas, and scholars have been sparring over the genealogy of human rights. The nineteenth-century trajectory of human rights discourse, the relationship between interwar minority rights and post-World War II human rights, and the relationship between civil rights and human rights have emerged as three major historical problems, and all have bearings on our research dilemmas at Duke. The conference will track the concept of human rights from the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries, paying special attention to the historical transition from natural rights to human rights, to the nexus of terror and human rights in the French Revolution and interwar Europe, and to the intimate relationship between the concept of minority/human rights and the development of international law and institutions. 

Social democracy drove the intellectual imagination and political economies of Europe for much of the twentieth century. In the 1990s, many European countries went through significant transitions whereby the ideas, programs and vision of social democracy appeared to be challenged. When and if “third-way” Social Democrats returned to political power, the nature of social democracy seemed to undergo revision. Nevertheless, many scholars have pushed back against these developments and reexamined the roots, ideas, and politics of social democracy. As a result, there continue to be sound intellectual reasons to investigate the contemporary history and future of European social democracy.

Vorticism: New Perspectives, is an international symposium co-sponsored by Duke and Wake Forest Universities, which will be held at the Nasher Museum of Art in conjunction with the exhibition The Vorticists: Rebel Artists in London and New York, 1914-1918 (the exhibition will be on view from September 30, 2010 through January 2, 2011).

Key figures associated with the Vorticists include the American expatriate poet Ezra Pound; the artist, author and polemicist Wyndham Lewis; the radical sculptors Jacob Epstein and Henri Gaudier Brzeska and artists Helen Saunders, Dorothy Shakespeare and Edward Wadsworth; and the photographer Alvin Langdon Coburn, creator of the first fully abstract photographs known as the “Vortographs.” The Vorticists disseminated their aesthetic not only through three key wartime exhibitions, which are the subject of the Nasher show, but also through their avant-garde movements through its radical typography, strident manifestos and innovative poetry and prose.