East-Central Europe in a Transnational Perspective: Strategies to Assess the Challenges of Globalization from the late-19th Century to the Present

East-Central Europe in a Transnational Perspective: Strategies to Assess the Challenges of Globalization from the late-19th Century to the Present

Project owner / organizer
Zentrum für Höhere Studien/ Geisteswissenschaftliches Zentrum Geschichte und Kultur Ostmitteleuropas (GWZO) ()
Hosting organization
From - Until
01.01.2006 -
Hadler, Frank

During the late 19th century, two parallel processes dynamically intensified. First, networking among nations dramatically increased. Second, nation-building emerged as the dominant form of large-scale social organization. This project examines the various strategies—economic, political, and cultural--employed in East-Central Europe to accommodate a process of globalization.

The transnationalism in late-19th and 20th-century East-Central Europe had four decisive dimensions:

- integration into the global economy
- producing and accommodating diverse cultural conceptions of the world
- assessing the role of various diasporas in the formation of national identity
- contending with the tensions between national and supranational claims along national borders

Our transnational perspective embraces the following four sub-projects: a.) the strategies pursued by Hungary in the economic field between 1867 and 1949; b.) images of and attitudes toward the non-European world among Czechs between 1890 and 1938; c.) the effect of the Polish diaspora in defining Poland’s place in the world between 1918 and 2004; and d.) the definition of the eastern border of Europe with special reference to the cases of Germany-Poland in 1990 and Poland-Ukraine in 2004

The sub-projects and the organizing theme will be connected through taking a cultural-historical approach to geography and chronology.

Frank Hadler/ Matthias Middel
project supervisors
hadler@rz.uni-leipzig.de; middell@uni-leipzig.de

Subproject A:
Hungary as Part of the Economic Globalization: Positioning Strategies of Enterprises, 1867-1948
Maria Hidvegi

From the late 19th century on, economic actors were challenged by an intensified international economic cooperation in terms of capital export, increasing trade and cross-border production chains, but also by a growing protectionism and an international crisis of the monetary as well as the trading system after World War I.

The responses of Hungary as a late-industrializing country from the European periphery to these challenges can be of special interest, as they were intensified by the fundamental change of the country’s position in East Central Europe due to the Trianon peace treaty in 1920. Accordingly, the study is divided into two periods:

(a) Hungary as part of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy until the peace treaty, and (b) from Hungary as an independent small nation-state to the emergence a socialist planned economy.

The permanent intellectual examination of these processes as the base for a successful entry to the free-market and for the protection of the position reached so far, as well as the applied strategies of inclusion into the international economic cooperation coping with the fundamental changes of the structure of the national economy will be studied on the example of four enterprises and a major bank. These objects of study existed throughout the entire time span of this study and left valid archival material about the processes of (self) positioning.

The study is to be seen as a contribution to a transnationally conceptualized cultural history of the Hungarian economy.

Subproject B:
Cultural Conceptions of the Non-European World and the Self-Image of the Czech Society, 1890-1938
Sarah Lemmen

In the process of globalization, cultural conceptions of regions outside the everyday contact became more and more important for national societies in the effort to find their place in a highly interconnected world.

The year 1918 as its crucial turning point, this study examines the cultural conception of the non-European world in a rapidly modernizing Czech society of the Bohemian lands from 1890 until the break-up of the Habsburg monarchy, and from the emergence of the Czechoslovak nation-state to the political and social changes just before World War II. The main focus is set on the aspect of how the examination of the non-European world developed according to the changing conditions.

More than just providing an inventory of cultural conceptions, the study also analyzes the interaction between the Self and the Other, cultural patterns of interpretation and images of the world.

This study is based mainly on two kinds of sources: Firstly travel magazines concentrating on the non-European world and secondly associations with a focus on regions outside Europe.

Subproject C:
(C) Diaspora as a Ressource: Cultural Conceptions of Emigration and Exile in the Interpretative Struggle over “Poland” and its Place in the World (1918-2004)
Mathias Mesenhöller

Mass migration and the formation of visible diaspora groups is a central feature of transnational modernity, and along with it societal reflections on the phenomenon.

During the 19th century millions of Poles emigrated from the territories of the later state of Poland, and in various waves this exodus continued over the last century. Thus from its very foundation the Polish nation state has been globally interconnected, and political discourse strongly reflected this transnational dimension, and reflects it to the present day.

The study analyzes the cultural conceptions of the Polish diaspora, focusing on three issues: (1) the role different diaspora groups played as points of reference for conflicting concepts of the Polish nation and its state; (2) attempts to utilize these communities to locate Poland on changing politico-mental maps, and define its position in the realm of international relations; (3) the influence “Polonia”-émigré organisations exercised in turn on the according discourses within Poland itself.

Thereby the study aims at explaining the function of a key dimensions of transnationality (migration/ diaspora) in the construction of political orders of knowledge, that continue to influence current disputes on national sovereignty, supranational integration and international accomodation in East Central Europe.

The study will draw on a body of sources, consisting mainly of academic, and journalistic texts from a selected set of mass media.

Subproject D:
Transnational Dynamics at the Eastern Border of the EU: The Polish-Ukrainian Border 2004 and the German-Polish Border 1990 in Comparison
Steffi Franke

The enlargement of the EU has changed rapidly the localization of the Eastern neighbors as well as of the EU itself in political and spatial terms, including the definition of the cultural differences between the societies on both sides of the new border. The shifted EU-border after 1990 is to be seen as an appropriate phenomenon to the study of
1. changing concepts of space as well as political and spatial identities, and
2. competing logics of exclusion and inclusion, as well as of tensions between and interactions of strategies of local, regional, national, and supra- or international actors to accommodate the challenges of a at the same time national and supranational border.

This study analyzes the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion and investigates the changing meanings of the external border, its representation in the political discourse and identifies the concepts that turn out to be the most effective. Comparing the Polish-Ukrainian border situation in 2004 with the German-Polish border as the former external border of the EU in 1990, continuity and change of the political interpretations of transnationality in East Central Europe will be analyzed.

The study is conducted on the basis of a) political documents such as strategy papers, project proposals and policy outlines, b) expert interviews with political actors of the involved organisations on the supranational, regional and national level and c) guided interviews focussing on the collection of data concerning the structure of the network of actors.

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English, German