Ships of State: Germany, Europe, and Beyond … Images of Political Unity for Troubled Times

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The next Max Weber Lecture is with Stephan Leibfried, University of Bremen, and will take place Wednesday 21 March at 17.00, Villa La Fonte, Conference Room.

All are welcome to attend – please register with [email protected]


Ever since the abstract notion of “the state” as an organizing principle for Western societies began to emerge in ancient Greece, it has been accompanied by concrete metaphors and icons that enable subjects and rulers alike to visualize its complex functions and powers.

The “ship of state” is one of the oldest, most persistent and widespread of these icons. Until the early 17th century, it represented the conjunction of worldly and spiritual powers, and later came to represent the purely secular forms of rule that emerged during and after the Reformation.

In this talk, we’ll consider the ship-of-state images that have helped foster unity and a national self-image during the formation and preservation of two successful (quasi) federal systems: Germany (1890-2010) and the European Union (1577-2012). At the end we’ll briefly mention the trajectories of other images, such as the Netherlands, France, the US, or the UK.

Prof. Leibfried will be introduced by Martin Kohli, SPS Department, EUI, and the session will be chaired by Tina Freyburg, Max Weber Fellow, SPS. All are welcome to attend. For organisational purposes please register ([email protected])

About the Speaker:

Stephan Leibried is Professor of Comparative and Eureopean Welfare State Politics at the University of Bremen. His research centres on comparative studies of the development of the welfare state in Germany, the U.S. and the U.K. focusing on the changing interface between international and domestic politics, and the effects of European integration on national welfare states.