We are delighted to invite you to the final lecture of the American Studies Colloquium Series in the 2023/2024 Fall semester!

Jan Smoleński
(University of Warsaw)

The Birth of the Concept of the Federal State during the Antebellum Constitutional Debates

Thursday, January 18, 2024
at 4:45 p.m.

You can get 3 OZN points for participating in this event.


Dobra 55, room 2.118
(the building features some mobility accommodations: ramp and lift)


In this lecture I will argue that the concept of the federal state emerged during the theoretical and political struggles over the shaping of the Constitution in antebellum United States as a result of the conceptualization of the founding as an act of unitary constituent power. Contrary to a popular narrative that the concept emerged together with the United States Constitution, I plan to demonstrate that the ratification of the Constitution put to rest the debates regarding the institutional architecture of the Union and allowed the key issue of constituent power to come to the fore. Ambiguity of the justification for the Constitution and the Union during the debates between Federalists and Anti-Federalists allowed diverging interpretations to emerge. During the constitutional debates first during the nullification crisis, and later in the run-up to the Civil War, participants on both sides refined their views regarding the nature of the founding and its implications for the constitutional nature of the created polity. In this process, the distinction between the federal state and the confederation in terms of constitutional authorship was forged. As I will discuss in my talk, this conclusion is important not only for the history of American constitutional and political ideas but is also relevant for broader conceptual debates; it also helps us to offer hypotheses regarding the contemporary American political predicament.


Jan Smoleński – is finishing his PhD at the New School for Social Research in New York. He specializes in political theory and qualitative comparative politics. His research interests include democratic theory, federalism, sovereignty, and empire and imperialism. In his doctoral dissertation he explores federal spatial and political imaginary focusing on the logical, normative, and conceptual connections between the constituent power, federal principle, democracy, and the constitution of the inside/outside distinction. He published articles on democratic theory, federalism, sovereignty, and borders as well as on knowledge production and expertise in the context of the war in Ukraine. He received his magister degree from University of Warsaw and MA in Political Science from CEU in Budapest. Recipient of the 2012-2013 Fulbright Self-Placed Graduate Student Award.

Year 2023/2024

April 26-27: Status Quo/Status Queer

February 27, 2024

The aim of the conference is to create an opportunity for MA and BA students at the American Studies Center and Institute of Applied Social Sciences to present their research projects and facilitate an exchange of inspiring ideas.

Year 2023/2024

29 Lutego: W stolicy światowej polityki. Warsztat pracy polskiego dyplomaty w Waszyngtonie

February 27, 2024

Pracownia Badań nad Przywództwem zaprasza na spotkanie z dr Justyną Bartkiewicz-Godlewską. Na spotkaniu dowiemy się jak zewnętrzni interesariusze starają się wpłynąć na kształt amerykańskiej polityki.

Year 2023/2024

February 28: The (Im)perfect Body: Body Horror in the Magnus Archives

February 27, 2024

Duing this talk we will listen to few episodes of The Magnus Archives and then discuss how Body Horror operates through sound and narrative.

Year 2023/2024

26 Lutego: Postfeminizm, Bimbo Feminizm i Film ,,Barbie”. O Feministycznych Praktykach w Erze Neoliberalizmu Kulturowego

February 22, 2024

Drogie Osoby Studenckie! Zapraszamy na kolejne wydarzenie Sekcji Studenckiej Pracowni Gender/Sexuality! Na najbliższym spotkaniu przyjrzymy się różnym rodzajom praktyk feministycznych we współczesnej erze neoliberlizmu kulturowego.


University of Warsaw is currently offering trial access to the DeGruyter Database

February 19, 2024

University of Warsaw is currently offering trial access to the DeGruyter Database, with access to original sources, text collections, reference works, and bibliographies.