This article examines the potentials of world-systems analysis (WSA) and uneven and combined development (UCD) for the history of nineteenth-century Habsburg Monarchy by critically engaging with Andrea Komlosy’s account of the Monarchy, written from the perspective of WSA. It argues that Komlosy does not provide a consistent WSA interpretation of the Monarchy’s history by trying to analyze the Monarchy as a world-economy in its own right, thus excluding geopolitical dynamics and the world-economy. Furthermore, core-periphery relations within the Monarchy are dealt with in a contradictory fashion. Crucially, the quite anomalous state formation is not accounted for. The problematic account of state formation, it is argued, is due to the limitations of WSA. By taking a closer look at the genesis of the Austro–Hungarian Compromise, the article claims that UCD is better suited for explaining state formation in the Monarchy.
In How the West Came to Rule, Alexander Anievas and Kerem Nişancıoğlu offer an alternative to both Political Marxism and world-systems analysis (WSA) by going beyond the nation-state as the unit of analysis in the former and the marginalisation of articulation and combination between modes of production in the latter. Their account also gives more room to non-European actors neglected in other interpretations of the rise of the West. However, I argue that their argument is much closer to WSA and that their critique of Wallerstein regarding Eurocentrism, the origins of capitalism and the role of wage labour in the capitalist world-system is problematic. Furthermore, Anievas and Nişancıoğlu do not offer a sufficiently rigorous definition of combination, leading to an overextension of the concept.
Since its publication, Pieter M. Judson’s history of the Habsburg Empire: A New History has sparked discussion and debate as a result of its novel reframing of the relationship between nationalism and empire in the Central European polity. Judson offers a new narrative of a vibrant and adaptive state that had the ability to balance empire and nationality, and thus was not doomed to fail, as has been one of the well-worn interpretations of the empire. The contributors to this debate come to the book from different regional and academic standpoints, and take on a number of key issues raised by the book: the role of nationality in the empire; the nature of Habsburg imperial rule within the broader context of European empire building; the relationship of Hungary within the larger empire; and the position of the Habsburg Empire within European history as a whole. Together, these perspectives shed light on core issues raised by the book as well as offer reflections on the future of Habsburg studies.