Laura Shannon Prize Lecture with Stella Ghervas: "The Peace Conundrum in European History"


Location: 1050 Jenkins Nanovic Halls (View on map )

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It has been an entrenched tradition to narrate the history of the European continent as a sequence of bloody conflicts that culminated in two World Wars and continued into the Cold War. Today the Russian-Ukrainian War seems to confirm that narrative as a dominant one. Breaking with that enduring historiographical trend, this lecture boldly takes the opposite approach, by focusing instead on Europe’s peaceful cycles between wars, over three centuries. It will explore two questions: “What is lasting peace”? and “How is it possible to achieve it?” The lecture embraces the intellectual and political history of Europe, both in space (including the Balkans and Russia) and in time (going as far back as the eighteenth century) to consider European history as the struggle of rational attempts to ensure lasting peace, against short-sighted instincts of self-destruction.


About the speaker

Stella Ghervas is Professor of History and the Eugen Weber Chair in Modern European History at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her primary interests are in the intellectual and international history of Europe, with special reference to the history of peace and peace-making, and in Russia’s intellectual and maritime history. She received the 2023 Laura Shannon Prize in Contemporary European Studies for her book, Conquering Peace: From the Enlightenment to the European Union, recently published by Harvard University Press.

The lecture is free and open to the public.