Territory, Statehood, and Sovereignty from Westphalia to Globalization | Wilson Center

Territory, Statehood, and Sovereignty from Westphalia to Globalization

Webcast available

Webcast Recap

Charles S. Maier, Distinguished Scholar, Wilson Center and Leverett Saltonstall Professor of History, Harvard University

The possession of territory or bounded political space has been crucial for the modern state, but historians and political analysts have left its properties unexamined. How have the premises and practices of territoriality changed from the seventeenth century to our own era? Seventeenth-century statesmen stressed frontiers; their eighteenth-century counterparts thought in terms of economic resources. Nineteenth-century men of progress made technology and energy central, while twentieth-century states were transfixed by geopolitical and ideological rivalries. And throughout the period, empires and nation-states incorporated different ideas of territory. But has globalization finally ushered in a post-territorial age?

Charles S. Maier is a Wilson Center distinguished scholar and the Leverett Saltonstall Professor of History at Harvard University teaching European and international history. Maier formerly served as the director of the Center for European Studies at Harvard University. Maier has edited several collaborative volumes on the politics of inflation, the Marshall Plan and other themes, as well as authored numerous books including: Among Empires: American Ascendancy and its Predecessors; The Unmasterable Past: History, Holocaust, and German National Identity; In Search of Stability: Explorations in Historical Political Economy; and Recasting Bourgeois Europe. Maier's book entitled, Dissolution: The Crisis of Communism and the End of East Germany, was awarded the 1999 prize for the outstanding book in German studies by the German Studies Association and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and outstanding book of the year (1998) awarded by the New England Historical Association.

Currently, Maier is collaborating with William Kirby and Sugata Bose on a world history of the twentieth century and writing on the rise and decline of territoriality and on the history of the modern state.


  • Charles Maier

    Distinguished Scholar
    Saltonstall Professor of History, Harvard University
  • Christian F. Ostermann

    Director, History and Public Policy Program; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project
    Woodrow Wilson Center