Conference and debate with Stanley Payne

Stanley Payne, Professor Emer of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will join the AE group in its last week of open activities. On wednesday 18th it will take place a debate about the Spanish Civil War and the Historical Memory with him at the RCC from 8 pm. The following day, thursday 19th, at 6 pm, Prof. Payne will offer an extraordinary lecture under the title “Overcoming the effects of Civil War: The United States and Spain”.


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David Armitage at Atlantic Empires

This week’s activities have had Harvard Professor David Armitage as the main character. On thursday, 10th, he was the chair of the seminar on Independence/Civil War, which was, also, the last one from the advanced research group. Professor Juan Franciso Fuentes, director of AE, exposed his paper, “Belle Époque: Myth and concept of civil war (Spain, 1898-1939)”, while Professor Octavio Ruiz-Manjon talk about his researches on the cultural interchanges between the United States and Spanish intellectuals in the early 20 century.

Professor Javier Fernández Sebastián, in the other hand, exposed a great approach on the development, through history, of the concept of “independence”; and Vanessa Mongey, PhD candidate of the University of Pennsylvania, presented a paper on the multiracial revolutionary expeditions that fought the Spanish empire and attempted to create their own republican states  during the Age of Revolutions.

On wednesday, Prof. Armitage offered an extraordinary lecture on the genealogy of the concept Civil War, which was followed by an interesting debate.


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Seminar on Independence/Civil War

David Armitage, Professor of History at Harvard University, will participate in this week’s AE’s activities. He will be the chair at tuesday’s seminar, about Independence and Civil War, where it will present their papers Professor Juan Francisco Fuentes, director of AE, Professor Javier Fernandez Sebastian, Professor Octavio Ruiz-Manjon and Professor Vanessa Mongey. The session will start at 4.30 pm. On wednesday Professor Armitage will give an extraordinary lecture, under the title “A Genealogy of Civil War”.

Here is a more detailed program of this week’s activities


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Interview at the RCC’s July bulletin

You never know what will happen once you come to the Real Colegio Complutense at Harvard University. Juan Francisco Fuentes and Eva Botella Ordinas met at the RCC; discussed common issues as historians; and decided that “being an RCC researcher is a good habit.” So, on Eva’s initiative, they organized a group of Spanish academic scholars and submitted the successful grant application to be RCC’s 2010 Advanced Research Group.

As a Research Group, they agreed to work together for two months on a topic –, From Empire to Nation: The Making of Modern Nations in the Crisis of the Atlantic Empires (17th-20th Centuries). From the beginning, they wanted to create “something magical” from their group experience. They consciously chose a wide range of generational participants from various universities and from a diversity of perspectives.

The youngest member, Regina Martínez Idarreta, is responsible for the group’s blog. She is working on her PhD thesis and has a grant from the Ministry of Education. “I feel privileged to come here to RCC and Harvard and be a participant of this group.” When asked why such a young person was included, the response was “We trust in Regina Martínez’s work; it is important to have a good balance of ages; and she helps create the magic.”

 One member described the group process: “It is very exciting and challenging to work as a team and to be in a context with different, yet connected, subjects. We are used to being in an academic setting with people focused on similar topics.”

The group arrived from Spain in early July. Unlike previous Advanced Research Groups, they came having already written long, detailed, research papers. Their concept is to spend their time learning from each other rather than working independently on their own documents. Strict deadlines were set months ago by the director Juan Francisco Fuentes and monitored by coordinator Eva Botella Ordinas. So, right away, group members dived into exchanges and debates which help improve their own thinking. Juan Francisco Fuentes emphasized, in their very first meeting together, the importance of establishing a balance between contributing and learning from others. He urged that they ask themselves: “What are the things that I’ve received from others and how have I changed my mind.”

Already, this process has produced positive results. “Fortunately, the magic factor exists. It is a feeling, a spirit, a spark that can be felt in our meetings and discussions. Of course, the victory of the Spanish football team in the World Cup helped provide this positive energy!”

How does this process actually work? “Each person gives a seminar. The kick-off was decisive as almost half of us presented in the first week. We are really satisfied with the high level of the papers and the discussions. After each seminar, the chair (in this case, Juan Francisco Fuentes) summarized key new, fruitful ideas that emerged from the presentation and discussion.”

The focal point of the group is to explore issues like modernity, territory, freedom, liberty, progress, independence, war, empires, and nations from the two-way exchanges from Europe to the Americas and from the Americas to Europe. These concepts are different depending on geography, culture, history. Juan Francisco Fuentes used the analogy of a suitcase: “A political/social concept is like a suitcase: you can change its contents and still it is the same suitcase. One of our key ideas is to look at the nature of these changes between both sides of the Atlantic. How do these concepts show up differently in different places?”

For example, the concept of “liberal” has very different meanings in Europe as compared to the U.S. “In Europe, a ‘liberal’ has a conservative meaning; whereas, in the U.S. ‘liberal’ can be a progressive.”

“We are interested in how new thinking uses past references. For example, how does Barack Obama use the Constitution as a basis for his Administration’s ideas and positions?”

by Elizabeth Kline

This interview was published in the RCC’s 2010 July 58# bulletin. Bulletin__58_(July_2010)

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Spanish History vs World History? Discussing on historiographical experiences

Next thursday 5th, Professor Josep Maria Fradera and Professor José Antonio Sánchez Román, historians from AE, will share their experiences as academics and researchers on Spanish history, in and open discussion that will take place, from 6 p.m., at Real Colegio Complutense. Professor Eva Botella, coordinator of the advanced research group, will moderate this interesting and original session.


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Encountering a new “New World”

On July 30th Edward Widmer, Director of the John Carter Brown Library (JCB), invited our research group to visit this library, crucial for every Atlantic historian. We took the train to Providence and in an hour met him in the beautiful building at Brown University´s campus.  Besides the pleasure of going back to the library—where I was fellow in 2008—, the warm welcome we received and the rich explanations about the materials we could find there, we discovered how an old library was transmuted into a New World helping historians in unprecedented ways. Since 2008 they have digitized and made public a large amount of unique books allowing historians from everywhere to have access to them. The library´s new policy of making some of its material available from afar does not stop scholars from visiting the library and working there—they provide fellowships for that–, quite the opposite. Edward Widmer knows well that JCB´s collection is absolutely exceptional and that JCB fellows who arrive to work on a research project leave with at least two concluded projects, and with new perspectives out of the scholarly exchange between the Atlantic historians researching in such a scholar´s paradise. The whole group is immensely grateful to him for the time and dedication he devoted to us last Friday.

Eva Botella Ordinas, coordinator of Atlantic Empires.

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Javier Fernández Sebastián


 Javier Fernández Sebastián is Professor of History of Political Thought at the Universidad del País Vasco (Bilbao, Spain), and his work focuses on the field of intellectual and conceptual history of modern politics. He has been Fellow and Visiting Professor at various universities and research centres  in Europe and America, including the EHESS and the Université Paris III, the Max-Planck-Institut für Geschichte (Göttingen) and the University of Cambridge. He is member of the editorial board of numerous Spanish and international journals and currently coordinates a far-reaching international Project on conceptual comparative history in the Ibero-American World. His recent books include a Diccionario político y social del siglo XX español (2008), co-authored by Juan Francisco Fuentes, and the first volume of Diccionario político y social del mundo iberoamericano (2009).


Independence: An Atlantic Concept

The aim of this project is to trace a conceptual history of the notion of “independence”, as used in political discourse by the many and varied agents involved in the crisis of the Atlantic World. Focused on a wide diversity of sources, the project seeks to examine how the notion of independence and some other concepts and metaphors closely associated with it evolved over space and time on both sides of the Atlantic. The project seeks to write a history of concepts in such a way that it goes beyond the nation-state, trying to identify links, similarities and contrasts not only among different countries within the Iberian American world, but also in comparison with the political uses of the concept of independence in other contexts, namely in modern British America.

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Cultural representations seminar and trip to Providence

Dr. Margarita Márquez and Regina Martínez Idarreta exposed their papers last thursday, during the third seminar of the AE research group chaired by Professor Eva Botella Ordinas, AE´s coordinator. Regina Martínez Idarreta made an exposition on her researchs about the use of language in the Basque politics. After the presentations there were two interesting debates about the papers.

On the other hand, Prof. Marquez made an original presentation of her work about the feelings towards Spain and independence in Puerto Rico, which finished with an Habanera compained by images of 1898’s war.

On friday, all the group went to Providence to visit The John Carter Brown Library, where we were welcame by the library’s director, Edward Widmer. He showed us all the place and explained us how they work. He even ask the group to make any kind of suggestions, as researchers, in order to improve the library’s services.

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Working papers

In this sections there are some of the papers exposed during the AE seminars, by the members of the group. They are works in progress so it is not allowed to quote or use them as resources for others works.

BOTELLA-From the Spanish Empire to the British Nation

FERNANDEZ.Founding mothers


FRADERA-Promises impossible to keep

FUENTES-Myth and concept of Civil War

MARTINEZIDARRETA.Building identities through language


SANCHEZ ROMÁN-Empire and Territory in the Amazon Valley

TERRASA-Royal blood

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In this section, those interested can find useful readings about Atlantic Empires’ and other topics related with this issue.



Fernández Sarasola, Ignacio-LA CONSTITUCIÓN DE 1812

Fernández Sebastián, Javier-EL CONCEPTO DE INDEPENDENCIA




Zantedeschi, Franchesca-LINGUA E NAZIONE IN EUROPA


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