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United kingdoms: why do union states fail?

Speaker: Professor Alvin Jackson (University of Edinburgh)

November 27, 2023
Bell Lecture Theatre, School of Maths and Physics, QUB
16:30 - 18:00

Chair: Professor Peter Gray, Director of the Institute of Irish Studies, QUB

The United Kingdom has been weakening, and this Lecture, drawing on Prof Alvin Jackson’s latest book United kingdoms: multinational union states in Europe and beyond, 1800-1925 (Oxford University Press: 2023) helps to explain why.

Jackson will examine the UK in the light of the experience of similar union states elsewhere, offering the first sustained comparative reflection across the 19th and early 20th centuries and beyond.

The UK was not in fact the only self-styled 'united kingdom' of the time: Jackson argues strikingly that Britain exported the idea of union through the advocacy or encouragement of other multinational united kingdoms at the beginning of the 19th  century.

He will draw together the histories of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England and explores the links between them and Sweden-Norway, the united Netherlands, Austria-Hungary, and many other union polities across the globe.

He will look at the institutions and agencies affecting the strength of unions - from monarchy, aristocracy, and religion through to class, money, and violence.

In this Lecture, Alvin Jackson will offer new overarching arguments about the origins and survival of all union states, and in doing so, shed new light on the particular history and condition of the UK and Ireland. 

Alvin Jackson 

Alvin Jackson is Sir Richard Lodge Professor of History at the University of Edinburgh.  He recently wrote and presented the successful three-part BBC TV series on 'The Prime Ministers' (produced by Doubleband in Belfast).   

Jackson was educated at Corpus Christi College and Nuffield College Oxford.  He has taught at University College Dublin, Boston College and as Professor of Modern Irish History at Queen’s University Belfast.

He is the author of eight books, including (most recently) United kingdoms: multinational union states in Europe and beyond, 1800-1925 (OUP: 2023).

He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, a Member of the Academia Europaea, and an honorary Member of the Royal Irish Academy.

He also holds an Honorary Doctorate from University College Dublin.

Hosted in partnership with The School Of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics and The Institute of Irish Studies, QUB.

The Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice
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