Stella Ghervas


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Stella Ghervas is interested in the history of Europe from a transnational perspective. She considers the European continent as a whole, with a doubly enlarged perspective: in time, from the Enlightenment to our days; in space, including its Eastern fringes (with Russia) as well as the Southeast (particularly the Balkans). Her research, at the intersection between intellectual history and international relations, is focused on the cultural and political foundations of European unification, raising two key questions: “What underlies the idea of Europe?” and “How far does Europe extend?” Two of her current subjects of interest are the history of peace and peacemaking in Europe over the longue durée, and the history of the Black Sea region (as a case study). Since her research aims to improve our understanding of contemporary issues, it also has relevance to political science and international law.

Her main book Réinventer la tradition. Alexandre Stourdza et l’Europe de la Sainte-Alliance was published by Honoré Champion in Paris in 2008. Based on thorough archival research, it provides a broad depiction of a crucial era when the Great Powers laid the foundations of the Concert of Europe that was to dominate much of international politics during the nineteenth century. It devotes particular attention to the diplomatic and intellectual milieus of the Congress of Vienna, which carried out a new political order in Europe. This book was awarded the Guizot Prize of the Académie Française in 2009, the Xenopol Prize of the Romanian Academy in 2010, the Prize and Merit Diploma of the Academy of Moldova in 2009, and shortlisted in 2009 for the Grand Prix d’Histoire Chateaubriand (France). An English version of this book is under contract with Cambridge University Press and should appear in 2016 in the series Ideas in Context.

She is currently working on a book entitled Conquering Peace: From the Enlightenment to the European Union for publication by Harvard University Press in 2017. Its goal is to trace European values back to their historical origins, showing how the ideas on peacemaking expressed by political philosophers crystallized as early as the eighteenth century into a concept of European unification. This project focuses on the role of peace in the elaboration of political Europe, as well as on the process of “legalization” and “institutionalization” of the international order, particularly negotiation and arbitration as credible alternatives to the force of arms. It covers five key moments that redefined the political order of Europe: the Peace of Utrecht (1713), the Congress of Vienna (1814-15), the creation of the League of Nations (1919), the birth of the European communities in the 1950s, and finally the foundation of the European Union at the treaty of Maastricht, after the fall of Soviet Union.

In parallel, she is working on another book project tentatively entitled Calming the Waters? A New History of the Black Sea, 1774-1920s. It considers the Black Sea Region as a privileged trading space on the frontier of Europe and, broadly, as a space for cultural interchange. It combines this approach with a broader historical analysis that takes into consideration the geopolitical stakes for the European powers – particularly the Eastern Question during the nineteenth century. This investigation is part of a renewal of history writing known as the new thalassology, ultimately derived from the tradition started by Fernand Braudel for the Mediterranean. It is, however, innovative and adventurous in the context of the Black Sea, where national narratives are still prevalent (witness the clashes of nationalisms in today’s Ukraine and Russia, and more recently the Turkish crisis).

Research Interests

Academic Distinctions and Professional Memberships

  • Neo-Federalism Project Grant, European Research Council (ERC), 2015
  • Visiting Scholar, Center for European Studies, Harvard University, 2013-2015
  • Research grant, Fondation des Archives de la famille Pictet (Switzerland), 2013-2015
  • Mellon Foundation Fellowship, University of Chicago, 2011
  • Shortlisted, Grand Prix d’Histoire Chateaubriand (France), book Réinventer la tradition. Alexandre Stourdza et l’Europe de la Sainte-Alliance, 2010
  • Xenopol Prize, awarded by the Romanian Academy for the best book in history Réinventer la tradition: Alexandre Stourdza et l’Europe de la Sainte-Alliance, 2010
  • Guizot Prize, awarded by the Académie Française for the book Réinventer la tradition: Alexandre Stourdza et l’Europe de la Sainte-Alliance, 2009
  • Research grant, Institute for Advance Study (IEA), Paris, 2009-2010
  • Research grant, Institute for Slavic Studies, Academy of Sciences of Russia, Moscow, 2007
  • Post-doctoral Fellowship, Foundation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (MSH), Paris, 2005
  • Doctoral Fellowship, Foundation Schmidheiny, Geneva, 2000
  • Grand Prix d’Histoire, awarded by the Cultural Foundation Magazin Istoric (Romania) for the book Alexandre Stourdza: Un intellectuel orthodoxe face à l’Occident, 1999
  • Research grant, Pro Helvetia Foundation, 1997
  • Vladimir Lossky Prize, awarded by the Department of Philosophy, University of St. Petersburg (Russia), for the best first class honours degree, 1995
  • Member, American Historical Association (AHA)
  • Member, Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES)
  • Member, Council for European Studies (CES)
  • Member, Southern Conference on Slavic Studies (SCSS)
  • Member, International Association of South-East European Studies (AESEE)
  • Board Member, Cercle des amitiés internationales, Geneva, Switzerland
  • Founding Member, Forum Européen de Coppet, Switzerland
  • Member, Swiss academic network Mentoring-femmes

Current Projects

Previous Projects

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