Conservatism in the Atlantic World

conservatism image

The RAI is excited to welcome leading scholars from around the world to a symposium on the concept of conservativism in the nineteenth-century Atlantic world co-convened by Professor Adam Smith and Dr Mark Power Smith.

Revolutions, slave revolts and colonial uprisings dominate the history of this period. But, for an “Age of Revolutions,” the status quo proved remarkably durable. Established regimes were swift and successful in launching co-ordinated responses against campaigns for self-determination. More significantly still, both the revolutionary movements that succeeded, and the regimes that remained in power, were forced to adapt aspects of a liberal program to a self-consciously conservative political order.

When we look, therefore, at the outcomes of the “Age of Revolutions” it becomes glaringly apparent that a focus on radical and liberal ideologies only tells half the story. The premise of this conference is that the meanings and significance of conservatism and conservatives remain under-explored yet vital to our understanding of the shaping of the modern world. This symposium will bring together scholars who have studied conservatism as an idea, as a movement, and who have studied elites and mass publics who have considered themselves “conservative” or have responded positively to appeals to “conservatism”.

By bringing together scholars with expertise in different national contexts, we hope to gain a deeper appreciation of how conservatism differed across space, but also to test hypotheses about what conservatives might have had in common: whether allegiance to a certain idea of the nation or the Church, an orientation towards defence of established institutions, an opposition to dogma, a fear of revolution, or, in famous words of Michael Oakeshott’s a disposition to prefer “the actual to the possible… the near to the distant… the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to utopian bliss.”

The contributors to the symposium will include: Erik Alexander (Southern Illinois University), Kate Birkbeck (Yale), Simon Dixon (UCL), Lawrence Goldman (University of Oxford), Emily Jones (University of Manchester), Joshua Lynn (Eastern Kentucky University), Nicola Miller (UCL), Matthew Mason (Brigham Young University), Edmund Neill (New College of the Humanities), Erika Pani (Colegio de México), Jon Parry (University of Cambridge), Mark Power Smith (University of Oxford), Adam Smith (University of Oxford), Ignacio De Solminihac (University of Cambridge), Frank Towers (University of Calgary), Michael Woods (University of Tennessee).

A full programme can be viewed here.

The symposium will take place from Friday June 24 at 9.00am to Saturday June 25, 2022, at 12.30pm in the main seminar room of the Rothermere American Institute at Oxford University. The event will be hybrid and remote participants will receive a Zoom link upon registration.

Academics at every career stage, including graduate students, are warmly welcome to attend. There is no registration fee. Participants will receive pre-circulated papers of around 5-8,000 words from experts in the history of the United States, Latin America and Europe. Lunch and coffee will be provided.

To register, please contact Mark Power Smith at