Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Global Lincoln: conference at Oxford

A conference with an all-star line-up will focus on The Global Lincoln at the Rothmere American Institute, University of Oxford, July 3-5, 2009. Here's the conference description:

After his death Abraham Lincoln became a global figure who spoke - and continues to speak - to peoples across the world. As the British Prime Minister David Lloyd George put it, Lincoln 'lost his nationality in death.' His political principles, his record of successful executive leadership in wartime, his role as the 'Great Emancipator', his resolute defence of popular government, and the perception of him as an exemplar of human brotherhood made him an international cult figure. Karl Marx judged him 'the single-minded son of the working class'; Cuban rebels invoked his name in support of their struggle for emancipation and self-government; Tolstoy reported his fame in the Caucasus; Tomas Masaryk, the first president of Czechoslovakia, drew strength as 'the Lincoln of Central Europe'; racially-mixed, republican 'Lincoln brigades' fought in the Spanish Civil War; more recently, Gordon Brown and Pervez Musharaf invoked Lincoln in support of their respective domestic agendas.
By 1900, works on Lincoln had been published in (sequentially) German, French, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, Greek, Spanish, Danish, Welsh, Hebrew, Russian, Norwegian, Finnish, Turkish, Swedish, and Japanese; and over the next twenty-five years or so the list had extended to embrace lives in Polish, Chinese, Czech, Arabic, Hungarian, Persian, Slovak, Armenian and Korean. After the Second World War, Lincoln continued to enjoy an international reputation, winning admirers among statesmen and ordinary people across Asia, Africa and Latin America. During and after the collapse of communism, he provided a democratic model for the Poles, the Baltic states, and others in eastern Europe.
The traction that Lincoln has had in these disparate regions, nations and contexts reveals that the story of his legacy is a global one. Lincoln's own intellectual and political horizons stretched across the nineteenth-century world. His conception of the Union as the 'last, best hope of earth' revealed his belief that the American Civil War constituted something larger than simply an American problem. The story of 'the Global Lincoln,' however, is more than just an examination of his views on international questions.
At its heart this project will explore what made Lincoln such a significant figure in these differing nations, contexts and eras. Papers delivered by leading intellectuals and public figures will examine the meanings which individuals and groups drew from Lincoln. The presenters also will consider the political exploitation of Lincoln's image and legacy in the specific contexts in which they were invoked. These themes will be explored in a variety of ways: through biographies of Lincoln written in other languages; analysis of the views individuals and political groupings held of Lincoln; examination of the creation of memorials, societies and other tributes to Lincoln.
More details are here.