Since the Roman Empire, no political entity has ever survived in Europe on such a large scale and for as long as the European Union. Yet it seems today that the EU is teetering on the brink of self-destruction. Now is therefore the time to urgently reconsider a founding principle that has sustained the European construction to date and which might make or break it in the future: Peace.
In fact, it is possible to trace a genealogy of concerted attempts at pacification of the European continent even before the Congress of Vienna (1815); attempts that continued undeterred with the League of Nations after the devastations of World War I, and were pursued after World War II and the Cold War.
Spanning three centuries, this year’s Schuman Lecture examined a number of deep-rooted reasons why, in the face of all odds and failures, political leaders in Europe have been trying to achieve a peaceful unification of the continent, and why this pursuit is a never-ending process. Watch it here.
Stella Ghervas is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and an Associate of the Department of History at Harvard University. She is currently also the Mihaychuk Fellow 2016-2017 at the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute. Among her many publications are Réinventer la tradition: Alexandre Stourdza et l’Europe de la Sainte-Alliance (2008), which was awarded the Prix Guizot of the Académie Française, and Lieux d’Europe: Mythes et limites, ed. (2008). Her new book Conquering Peace: From the Enlightenment to the European Union is forthcoming from Harvard University Press. She is now working on a transnational history of the Black Sea Region from the Russian expansion in the eighteenth century to the present day and co-editing a volume on the cultural history of peace in the Enlightenment. Read our interview with Prof. Ghervas here.
About the Schuman Lecture
The annual Schuman Lecture commemorates Robert Schuman and the Treaties of Rome (1957) and Maastricht (1992). Schuman (1886-1963) was French Minister of Foreign Affairs and co-founder of the European Community of Coal and Steel in 1950, an ancestor of the modern EU. The lecture is organised yearly by Maastricht University and the City of Maastricht.