The Governance of Empires from Antiquity to Today
2 October 2013
How empires are managed is the topic of this year's annual conference of the Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe in a Global Context" of Heidelberg University. Approximately 150 researchers from all over the world will explore both European and Asian forms of management and administration from ancient to modern times, with a special focus on the importance of actors such as public officials. The conference, entitled “Managing Empires. Cooperation, Competition, Conflict" will be held in English from 9 to 11 October 2013. The main speakers include historian Prof. Dr. Michael Broers of Oxford University (Great Britain) and Japanologist Prof. Dr. Carol Gluck of Columbia University in New York (USA).
“An efficient organisation has always been the backbone of empires. Administration plays a vital role and can be just as critical as a charismatic leader or military equipment”, explains Prof. Dr. Diamantis Panagiotopoulos, Director of the Institute for Classical Archaeology of Heidelberg University and organiser of the conference.
Public officials are of particular importance. “In the Chinese empire, for example, prospective officials had to go through an elaborate examination process and memorise hundreds of thousands of characters in the language to reach the highest level,” says Sinologist Prof. Dr. Barbara Mittler, member of the directorate of the Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe". Whether and to what extent the administrative system in China has exerted an instrumental influence on its European counterparts is the topic of one conference presentation. The presenters will also shed light on other groups of individuals influential in the governance of empires. Among the issues to be discussed is how new global elites forge a cosmopolitan lifestyle beyond national borders and how marketing experts and media present the image of a superpower to the world at large.
The conference programme includes two public keynote speeches in English. On 9 October, Prof. Broers will open the conference with a presentation on power structures under Napoleon, describing how the French ruler wished to modernise the nations he subjugated by creating in each an enlightened populace. The opening lecture begins at 6:30pm in the Great Hall of the Old University at Grabengasse 1. In the second keynote on 10 October, Prof. Gluck will discuss the significance of Japan in modern world history. This event will be held at the Karl Jaspers Centre for Transcultural Studies, Voßstraße 2, and begins at 6:30pm.