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AIAS Workshop

Ruler Personality Cults from Empires to Nation-States and Beyond: Symbolic Patterns and Interactional Dynamics

Date: 1-2 June 2017

This workshop aims to serve as a platform for a stimulating discussion of ruler personality cults from a range of multi-and inter-disciplinary perspectives across time and space. It invites scholarly contributions addressing any of the foliowing questions: 

  • How can we define a personality cult? What are its origins, constituent elements and drivers?
  • Can we quantify/measure a personality cult? If so, what is the threshold level?
  • What is the relationship between personality cults and modemity? What continuities and discontinuities can we identify vis-a-vis earlier personality cults?
  • Do personality cults differ between monarchic and republican, authoritarian and non-authoritarian regimes? If so, how -quantitatively or qualitatively?
  • What common pattems do host societies/states exhibit and do they change over time?
  • Do personality cults play out differently on the individual and the group levels?
  • When and how do personality cults die? In what ways and to what degree do they sow the seeds of their own destruction?

The goal is to develop a more integrated approach leading to a better understanding of this pervasive phenomenon which has yielded tremendous influence over human societies and states across the globe for long stretches of time leading up to the present.


Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies (AIAS), Aarhus University, Buildings 1630-1632, Høegh-Guldbergs Gade 6B, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark. See location on a map.


  • Manuela Marin, Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania    
  • Dmitri Zakharine, Universität Konstanz, Germany
  • Xavier Marquez, Victoria University, New Zealand
  • Alexey Tikhomirov, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, Germany
  • Tamara Pavasovic Trost, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Jovana Mihajlović Trbovc, Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Slovenia
  • Charlotte Joppien, University of Hamburg, Germany  
  • Ali Anooshahr, University of California, Davis, USA
  • Eva Giloi, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Rutgers, USA
  • John Plunkett, University of Exeter, UK
  • Wendy DeSouza University of California, Davis, USA
  • Christian A. Nielsen, Aarhus University, Denmark



Time schedule

  • Thursday, 1 June
    19.00- Dinner (for speakers only)
  • Friday, 2 June


The workshop is open to external participants, but has a limited number of seats available for 10 people on a first-come, first-served basis.