LEGACIES : Understanding how historical states have shaped modern institutions and dissent
While today’s political map divides the globe into about 200 sovereign states, there were hundreds more in the 18th and 19th centuries. Although most of these “historical states” no longer appear on modern maps, they have left behind institutions, symbols, and elite networks. What are the legacies of these “historical states”? We propose a new theoretical framework to unpack the impacts of historical states on patterns of conflict and democracy in the modern world and a powerful new method capable of generating high-resolution data on the topographies of statehood, globally, between 1750-1920. Our method overcomes major limitations and obstacles in current practices of studying the legacies of historical states and enables us to transcend 2D Cartesian mapping assumptions that are poorly equipped to render statehood in what were often decentralized international systems. Drawing on our new theoretical framework, we use the high-resolution LEGACIES data to estimate how historical statehood has shaped contemporary patterns of dissent and democracy. Our project has the potential to transform the way international relations scholars see and understand the international system(s) of the 18th and 19th centuries and how these legacies have shaped the political contours of the modern world.