(De-)constructing Central Europe: From Mitteleuropa to Visions of a Common Europe
18 Oktober 2018 - 20 Oktober 2018 Frankfurt Oder, Große Scharrnstrasse 59
(De-)constructing Central Europe: From Mitteleuropa to Visions of a Common Europe, 1918-2018 Frankfurt (Oder) / Słubice, 18-20 October 2018 An interdisciplinary conference hosted by: The Center for Interdisciplinary Polish Studies, Szczecin University, and the Willy Brandt Center Call for papers The humanities offer a unique reflection of Central European relations over the past 100 years. After the end of World War I and the collapse of the great empires, new nation-states became the target of border revisionism across the board. In Germany, social scientists went to the field to prove the Germanness of Polish and Czechoslovak territories. Authorities in all countries attempted to expand their territory, basing their claims on history. Divergent uses about the ideas of “federation”, and concepts such as “Deutscher Osten,” “Międzymorze,” “Čechoslovakismus,” or “Nagy-Magyarország” dominated academic discourses in the interwar period, as ethnographers and linguists set out to research the “new” peoples and states of Central Europe. Institutions like the Publikationsstelle Berlin-Dahlem funded ideologically-driven studies to prove “scientific” conclusions about the superiority of Germans and their culture. Scholarly attempts to legitimize political authority continued after 1945. The West Institute in Poznań was but one of many think tanks in the Soviet bloc claiming an unbroken tradition of German revanchism from the Middle Ages to the present. In turn, institutes such as the Herder Institute in West Germany supported claims to territories that had been ceded to the East. The first cooperative contacts between academics started in the late 1950s. But with the policy of détente in the 1970s, however, scholars increasingly came into contact with counterparts on the opposing side of the Iron Curtain. Cooperative projects began to emerge which sought common results and conclusions. Intellectuals began to revive discussions about Central Europe, this time arguing that the region was fundamentally linked to the West. In the age of the EU, journals like Przegląd Zachodni—which has focused on the subject “Poland-Germany-Europe” for the past decade—are symbols of this transition from dualistic, combative research to regional studies focused in a global context. Nevertheless, controversies about the House of Terror in Budapest or the World War II Museum in Gdańsk, or recent debates about reparations or minority rights show that there appears to be no end in sight for politically-charged academia. This conference intends to explore the complicated history of scholarly output between politics and science. We invite proposals of original research to this international conference from all core disciplines of the humanities to this international conference which examines the academic construction and deconstruction of Central Europe over the past century. We envision interdisciplinary panels which focus on (but are not limited to) sociology, history, anthropology, linguistics, literary studies, urban studies, political science, and musicology. We particularly invite scholars from or who work on the states of Central Europe broadly defined. Our focus will be on three clusters of research: papers which explore particular actors who were crucial to the (de-)construction of Central Europe; institutions and networks which supported such research; and discourses which guided the field.