Networks and Practices of Political Exchange: Britain and Europe, 1651–1748 (symposium)

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This was a fall 2003 weekend symposium. Faculty included Jonathan Israel (Institute for Advanced Study), Margaret Jacob (UCLA), and John Marshall (The Johns Hopkins University) will codirect the opening session. Invited scholars who will lead the discussions that follow include Silvia Berti (Università degli Studi di Roma), Franz Bosbach (Universität Bayreuth), Justin Champion (Royal Holloway College, London), Anne Goldgar (King's College, London), Knud Haakonssen (Boston University), Allan Macinnes (University of Aberdeen), James Moore (Concordia University, Montreal), Melvin Richter (Emeritus, Hunter College, CUNY), Patrick Riley (University of Wisconsin-Madison), and John Robertson (St Hugh's College, Oxford).

This weekend symposium traced the networks of interaction and patterns of exchange between the political cultures of continental Europe and of the Three Kingdoms of Britain and Ireland from the mid-seventeenth century to the dawn of the High Enlightenment. This period encompasses an earlier Enlightenment in which patterns of exchange develop, largely but not exclusively among Protestant cultures, and in which the British kingdoms both contributed and received a variety of intellectual impulses. The symposium, one of the Center for the History of British Political Thought programs, considered major conceptual changes in the relations between states and between states and churches, examining redefinitions of sovereignty, law and duty, of toleration and dogmatic theology, of orthodoxy and heterodoxy, and of the role of natural law. These relationships developed in the context of a republic of letters whose most signal achievement was the generation of a conception of civil society that came to inform and define Enlightenment itself. Participants addressed not only the conceptual content of political exchange but also the material and institutional conditions that both made it possible and accelerated its development. It should thereby become evident whether there were differences between debates taking place along cosmopolitan networks and those taking place within territorial systems in the decades between the birth of Leviathan and the appearance of the Esprit des Lois.