CONFERENCE OF THE EUROPEAN FATHERLANDS THAT DISAPPEARED IN THE 20TH CENTURY
CALL FOR CONTRIBUTIONS
DEADLINE April 30, 2004
Dr Tomasz Kamusella Dr Sergei Zhuk, fellows, John W Kluge Center, Library of Congress, Washington DC, USA are in the preliminary stages of organizing a conference on the European Fatherlands that disappeared in the 20th c. Now we are looking for prospective members of the core group who will meet for 10 days in May 2005 at Bellagio, Italy before the full fledged conference is organized in 2006. The contributions will be published as a book.
We are looking for interested scholars who could contribute:
opening essay on Joseph Roth and Istvan Bibó concentrating on their mourning of Austria-Hungary and their criticisim of the successor 'little nation-states';
Austria-Hungary as a fatherland looking at it from the center of Vienna and/or Budapest;
Austria-Hungary as a fatherland but looking at it from the erstwhile periphery (eg Bukovina, Upper Hungary or Bosnia, for that matter);
Yugoslavia as a fatherland looking at it from the center of Belgrade;
Yugoslavia as a fatherland looking at it from the periphery (eg Macedonia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Kosovo or Croatia for that matter);
Czechoslovakia as a fatherland looking at it from the center of Prague and Bohemia;
Czechoslovakia as a fatherland looking at it from the periphery (especially Slovakia, but also Moravia and Silesia);
Carpathian Rus as a fatherland that achieved only a week-long independence in 1939 and used to change hands between Austria-Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, the Soviet Union and Ukraine.
We hope that the contributors may be scholars who besides their scholarly expertise on the problematic would be able to draw on their personal/family experiences caused by the disappearance of their erstwhile fatherland. It is so because we would expect the contributions to be readable essays that would mix the point of view of the average man with historiography.
DEADLINE: April 30, 2004, due to the application procedure for the Bellagio event.
REQUIREMENTS: please include:
short letter of interest, and
CV with the list of your publications.
ADDRESS FOR CORESPONDENCE
Dr Tomasz Kamusella, THRU AUG 2004 firstname.lastname@example.org , AFTER AUG 2004 email@example.com
Dr Sergei Zhuk, THRU SEPT AUG 2004 firstname.lastname@example.org
DETAILED INFORMATION ON THE PROJECT
Conference and Book Project
Title: European Fatherlands That Disappeared in the 20th Century: Nostalgia or Looking Back in Anger?
Editors: Tomasz Kamusella and Sergei Zhuk
Outline of the problematic: In Europe the 20th century was the age of colossal changes. In 1918 Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire broke up. The Russian and German empires collapsed. In their place a plethora of new nation-states emerged and the Soviet Union. The German Anschluß of Austria (1938) commenced the period of dramatic border changes during World War II. Some states disappeared, some were created, while others were seriously truncated or enlarged. The danse macabre of frontiers was frozen upon the Allies’ imposition of the Cold War order. The overhauling of the extant borders started anew with the break-ups of the Soviet bloc (1989), Yugoslavia (1990-?), the Soviet Union (1991) and Czechoslovakia (1993).
The post-World War I changes replaced empires with nation-states and the communist empire that, in vain, hoped to transcend nationalism and imperialism. The westward expansion of the Soviet Union in 1945 did not spread communist order but a communist-national order. The geopolitical transformations of the 1990s made nationalism into the only source of statehood legitimization. This short 20th century marked by the transition from the a- or pre-national via the communist-national to the national constitutes the background against which contributions are painted.
So far much attention has been devoted to the questions:
why empires and some states disappeared;
why communism engulfed half of Europe;
why nationalism won the ideological struggle with communism;
and what these developments may mean for the future.
What is missing is the reflection on the fate of those inhabitants who grew up and made their careers in the countries that disappeared. They were loyal to their states and hoped to live their lives within the network of stability these states provided. The sudden and completely unexpected collapse of their fatherlands proved a shock to them. Not even having left their homes the inhabitants were deserted by their own states. Many would never come to terms with this loss. They would remain eternal immigrants with no hope to return to their homelands that were completely erased not only from the political map but also from the very social reality. There are not any more Soviet people but the Russians, the Ukrainians, the Uzbeks, the Georgians and many more. The nations of the Czechs and the Slovaks replaced the Czechoslovaks. Similarly Yugoslavs remain homeless their former state partitioned into the nation-states of the Serbs, the Slovenes, the Croats and others.
Anther problem, which was prominent during ‘the age of empires’ and still shapes mentality of small nations, is the relations between a center and province (periphery) of the states. A legacy of imperial centralism and cultural condescension of ‘central elites’ toward provinces affected a development of national consciousness especially among small nations for many years to come. New intellectual elites and entire progress of the new post-imperial small nations still suffer because of their ‘provincialism.’
The tremendous loss of the world one knew and one expected to last for centuries is an anathema to the current political elites. Frequently, they justify the existence of the new states and the current policies in opposition to the ‘disappeared fatherlands’. These new politicians term the erstwhile countries as ‘prisons of nations’, ‘failed states’ or ‘rogue countries’. They live for the future and it will always look more appealing when one denigrates the past. Few could oppose this future-oriented thrust of events. If displeased with the present they usually kept their opinions to themselves and muddled through. But in these disappeared states of the past not everything was wrong even if they happened to be as oppressive as the Soviet Union or East Germany. And, above all, if one lived one’s childhood, first love and youth in such a country that is not around any more; what else can one recollect with fondness natural to these periods of life, but one’s fatherland that is not?
The three renowned critics of the new, who sang qualified praises of the disappeared European empires, were Joseph Roth, István Bibó, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. The first one attained posthumous worldwide fame only in the 1990s. Suddenly, his elegiac stories and novels on Austria-Hungary began to make sense to millions of readers all over the globe. Bibó wrote his seminal 1946 essay ‘The Poverty of East European Small States’, having observed petty but murderous nationalisms that followed the destruction of Austria-Hungary. Not surprisingly, these small and constantly bickering nation-states had no necessary strength or willingness to oppose together the two totalitarian juggernauts of national socialism and communism that engulfed Central and Eastern Europe from 1939 to 1989.
Solzhenitsyn, the bitterest critic of the Soviet Empire, contrasted the positive moments of the Russian Empire before 1917 with the catastrophic and anti-humane developments in post-Soviet Russia.
This partial redress of the black legend of Austria-Hungary and imperial Russia was achieved during the 1990s. Similar analysis of other disappeared states are still due though it is obvious that some black legends do not veer much away from how life looked like in disappeared states. But legends conveniently write out jarring details from the grand picture they propagate.
Truth is better to a simplistic stereotype. Hence, this collection of essays expedites this process of looking into the ironies and aspects that official history and received opinion swept under the carpet of the established view on the past. The standpoint from which the authors of the contributions look at their disappeared fatherlands, is that of the average man who had to shoulder the cost and burden of changes. The average man knows best how the past compares to his current life and remembers these details that never made it to textbooks and newspapers. Often his memories are crucial for understanding what happened.
It is high time for the sustained reflection on the disappeared European states of the 20th century, when the European Union enlarges with 10 new members in May 2004. Small nation-states realized they have no chance of going it alone in the new brave world of globalization. Size matters. On the other hand, people do not wish their travels, thoughts, desires and dreams to be limited by the national borders any more. Although there is no end of the nation-state in sight, as some predicted in the 1990s, but the national is gradually subjected to the supranational of the European Union. A new quality is born. It is too early to say what it will be, but one principle of the coming changes is clear. The new will not be obliterating the past. The past in the form of the member nation-states is incorporated into the European Union in an evolutionary manner.
Let us hope that no more states, fatherlands will suffer sudden, unexpected and unexplained deaths that leave millions flabbergasted and without homelands.
Scholars and thinkers who stem from or do research on the European fatherlands that disappeared during the 20th century will write the essays. They deftly combine the personal reflection with the scholarly approach, their own experience of every-day life with theoretical analysis. This allows preserving the academic value of these contributions, while providing the reader with the picture of the past to which he or she can relate at the level of everyday human experience.
Essays on the times and writings of Joseph Roth, István Bibó and Alexandr Solzhenitsyn open the volume, while the conclusion is naturally devoted to the European Union as a new fatherland, which arose without the necessity of destroying other fatherlands. Beyond the exclusivist logic of nationalism, it turned out that one can enjoy several (often spatially overlapping) fatherlands. At last, with the hindsight of two World Wars, the Holocaust and numerous ethnic cleansings politicians espoused this view too.
Other essays are devoted to the following fatherlands that disappeared:
Austria-Hungary (demise: 1918) - a view from the center (Vienna/Budapest).
Austria-Hungary (demise: 1918) - a view from the periphery (some distant region [e.g. Bukovina] or a minority group [e.g. Jews, Roma]).
The Ottoman Empire (demise: 1923) - a view from the center (Constantinople/Ankara).
The Ottoman Empire (demise: 1923) - a view from the periphery (the Balkan provinces and/or opinions of the Turkish/Muslim minorities left behind).
Carpathian Rus (birth and demise: 1939).
Prussia (demise: 1947 - dissolved by the Allies, its territory incorporated into Poland and the Soviet Union, the population - expelled).
East Germany (demise: 1990 - incorporation into the Federal Republic of Germany).
Yugoslavia (demise: 1990-?) - a view from the center (Belgrade).
Yugoslavia (demise: 1990-?) - a view from the periphery (e.g. Macedonia).
The Russian Empire/Soviet Union (demise: 1991) - a view from the center (Moscow and Saint Petersburg).
The Russian Empire/Soviet Union (demise: 1991) - a view from the European periphery (Ukraine).
The Russian Empire/Soviet Union (demise: 1991) - a view from the Eurasian periphery (Kazakhstan and/or Uzbekistan).
Czechoslovakia (demise: 1993) - a view from the center (Prague).
Czechoslovakia (demise: 1993) - a view from the periphery (Bratislava).
The total of 15 or 16 contributions of around 10-15 pages each, together with the introduction and index, adds up to 250 - 300 pages.
Scholars and thinkers who stem from or do research on the above-mentioned disappeared fatherlands. Appropriate contributors will be approached via the institutional networks available to the Editors as well as through posting a call for papers via the Internet. Preferably the contributors will write in English. But in few cases it may be necessary to commission translation of some crucial essays. The authors will meet during the special international conference where they discuss their papers and select an appropriate material for a publication.
Send comments and questions to H-Net
Webstaff. H-Net reproduces announcements that have been submitted to us as a
free service to the academic community. If you are interested in an announcement
listed here, please contact the organizers or patrons directly. Though we strive
to provide accurate information, H-Net cannot accept responsibility for the text of
announcements appearing in this service. (Administration)