David Armitage

David Armitage

Speaker: David Armitage, Lloyd C. Blankfein Professor of History, Harvard University

Date: Friday, April 7, 2017
Time: 5:30 PM
Place: Hager Auditorium, Museum of the Rockies

Title: Civil Wars, A History of Ideas

Sponsoring department: History & Philosophy

Office of Research and Economic Development
MSU Humanities Institute

To reserve a seat, please visit www.montana.edu/history.


From Afghanistan to Yemen, civil war is now humanity's most destructive, most widespread, and most characteristic form of collective organized violence. Yet civil war is not just a contemporary problem but one with a two-thousand-year history. This lecture places our current discontents in long-range historical perspective, from the invention of civil war in republican Rome to current conflicts in Iraq and Syria. Deciding when, and whether, to call a war "civil" has been fraught across this great sweep of history. In this talk, Armitage will discuss why civil war has been so contentious for so long, and what the history of struggles over its meaning can tell us about some of our most fundamental political and ethical values.

About the speaker:

David Armitage is the Lloyd C. Blankfein Professor of History at Harvard University and the former chair of Harvard's History Department. He is also an Affiliated Faculty Member at Harvard Law School, an Affiliated Professor in the Harvard Government Department and an Honorary Professor of History at the University of Sydney. His work combines approaches from intellectual history and international history and has ranged from the classical world to the present. A prize-winning teacher and author, he has lectured on six continents and has held research fellowships and visiting positions in Australia, Britain, France, Germany and the United States. He is the author or editor of sixteen books, among them "The Ideological Origins of the British Empire" (2000), "The Declaration of Independence: A Global History" (2007), "Foundations of Modern International Thought" (2013) and, with Jo Guldi, "The History Manifesto" (2014). His most recent books are "Civil Wars: A History in Ideas" (2017) and "The Law of Nations in Global History," co-edited with Jennifer Pitts (2017). He is currently completing an edition of John Locke's colonial writings and co-editing collections on oceans in global history and on the cultural history of peace in the Enlightenment.

The talk will be followed by a reception and book-signing.