A – Minorities, national belonging, and state-building

Ambiguous identities: The role of literature and intellectual debates in the (re)definition of collective identities

Event Details

  • Date

    Saturday, 27 June - 11:00 – 13:00

    Saturday, 27 June - 14:00 – 16:00

  • Venue
    tba
  • Theme
    A – Minorities, national belonging, and state-building
Panelists
  • Diana Hitzke (Justus Liebig Universität Gießen / Technische Universität Dresden)
  • Elizabeth Monier (University of Cambridge, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies)
  • Kathi King (Universität Freiburg)
  • Otso Kortekangas (KTH Royal Institute of Technology)
  • Ivo Budil (Metropolitan University Prague)
  • Thea Sumalvico (University of Halle-Wittenberg, Faculty of Theology)
  • Ira Janis-Isokangas (University of Helsinki)

Papers

  • Diana Hitzke
    Minorities Entangled. Cultural and Linguistic Crisscrossing in Sorbian Literature

    Minorities Entangled. Cultural and Linguistic Crisscrossing in Sorbian Literature

    Sorbian literature, which is a minorized and “stateless” literature, is influenced by other Slavic and non-Slavic literatures and it is formed within the frame of German, Polish and Czech educational institutions, where Sorbian authors studied. Due to its minority position Sorbian culture constantly refers to other cultural and linguistic constellations. My paper aims to show how Sorbian Literature develops as an entangled literature and in which contexts entanglement is appreciated and when it is rejected. It focusses on two writers: the bilingual writer Jurij Brězan, who writes his novels in both German and Sorbian language and the bilingual poet Róža Domašcyna, who implements new hybrid words into her lyrics.
  • Kathi King
    Rewriting America in a shaken world: African American women writers and the WPA

    Rewriting America in a shaken world: African American women writers and the WPA

    The 1930s were a time of economic and political turmoil. The 1929 stock market crash was followed by a world wide recession. Many democracies were replaced by authoritarian rule, most famously in Germany, but also in the rest of Europe. The United States, severely battered by the Great Depression, meanwhile launched the world's biggest work relief program. As diverse as its professional and service programs was its cultural agenda. In the midst of the economic crisis, the federal government hired unemployed writers and artists to document the lives of of everyday Americans. The Federal Writers' Project conducted thousands of interviews, recording life histories and folklore. Their aim: to redefine national identity by embracing the country's diversity. Especially the most marginalized of the country's population should participate in creating a polyphonic portrait of 1930s USA. A small number of African American writers took part in this venture, recording black voices and creating authentic representations to add to the mosaic of American culture. In that, American history was being democratized, in terms of subject matter, authorship, and informants. An even smaller number of African American women writers seized the opportunity to create narratives of black female subjectivity, challenging not only prevalent WASP-conceptions of American identity, but also conventions of African American culture, while engaging in the political and literary debates of their time. Their names were Margaret Walker, Dorothy West and Zora Neale Hurston. With fascism raging in Europe and racist terror and segregation in the USA, these writers documented what women in their community had to endure, but also how they triumphed. Meanwhile Soviet Russia and Republican Spain were not only a reference point for them, but a destination and objective for their support and solidarity. All the while they observed the fate of the Jewish people in Europe, relating their struggles to their own. In taking part in the venture of crafting a more inclusive image of the US, black women writers also lay the groundwork for an internationalist vision of an alliance of the oppressed, which should later inform the black power movement as well as the feminist struggles of the twentieth century.
  • Otso Kortekangas
    Indigenous avant la lettre. The origins and livelihoods of the Sámi in European scholarly thought 1930–1960

    Indigenous avant la lettre. The origins and livelihoods of the Sámi in European scholarly thought 1930–1960

    This paper studies in what terms early twentieth century European scholars described and discussed the origins and the livelihoods of the Sámi before the term ”indigenous” was widely in use. The scholarly discussions on the origins and the livelihoods of the Sámi included important links to international debates on themes such as ecology, evolution, and the preservation and education of indigenous peoples. The paper also studies the role and position of Sámi individuals within the scholarly discussions, and how information gathered from the Sámi was used and circulated.
  • Elizabeth Monier
    The inclusion of Christians in the constitutions of Post-WW1 Egypt and Iraq

    The inclusion of Christians in the constitutions of Post-WW1 Egypt and Iraq

    Post-1918, the Middle East was in a state of flux as borders shifted and new ideas of belonging were debated in a flourishing local press and negotiated with colonial powers. This period also marked intellectual, legal and political shifts in the conceptualisation of minority-ness. In both Egypt and Iraq, Christians played a role in the intellectual debates and in the formation of constitutions in the 1920s. This paper examines the debates around minority protection in constitutions and demonstrates that, in general, Christians rejected this idea, which was understood as undermining their inclusion in the nation.
  • Ivo Budil
    An ambiguity of Jewish Identity in the Early Victorian Era: The Case of Benjamin Disraeli

    An ambiguity of Jewish Identity in the Early Victorian Era: The Case of Benjamin Disraeli

    The expansion of racial thinking in Western civilization in the first half of the nineteenth century affected many thinkers, writers, and politicians and the political culture of the West in general. The concept of race influenced not only the relationship of Western imperial states to overseas cultures and civilizations but, as Hannah Arendt had already shown, attitude towards religious and ethnic minorities as well. The paper will focus on a critical analysis of the evaluation of the place and role of the Jewish minority in European society and history in the work of the British conservative statesman and writer Benjamin Disraeli, especially in his Young England trilogy. His romantic racial and particularist approach will be confronted primarily with the views of his father, Isaac D´Israeli, whose concept on the integration of the Jewish community into modern Western society reflected the universalist and secular legacy of the Enlightenment.
  • Thea Sumalvico
    Construction of Judaism and Mechanisms of Exclusion in Late 18th Century Debates

    Construction of Judaism and Mechanisms of Exclusion in Late 18th Century Debates

    By the end of the 18th century, new discussions arose all over Europe about the question, who is a citizen and for what reason. Although authors find it questionable, that baptism makes one a citizen, Jews are mostly excluded anyway. New forms of exclusion were constructed, for example in claiming that the Jewish law would collide with the law of the state. We can find early thoughts of racist thought and populist arguments, but also theological thoughts on the issue. In this paper, I would like to show, how political, theological and cultural debates about exclusion overlap each other.
  • Ira Janis-Isokangas
    Konrad (Konni) Zilliacus and Revolutionary Russia

    Konrad (Konni) Zilliacus and Revolutionary Russia

    This paper explores activities of a Swedish-speaking journalist and political activist, Konrad Zilliacus (1855-1924), who organised active resistance among young Constitutionalists during the first period of Russification in the Grand Duchy of Finland (1899-1905). Political activism of Zilliacus and his radicalisation is a good example of how the younger generation of the Finnish elite responded to the threat of Russification during the Tsarist regime. Konrad Zilliacus’s name is known from the history Russification period in Finland, but he has often been overshadowed by other Constitutionalists and activists of that era. Zilliacus also had a reputation of a cosmopolitan adventurer and a radical without serious political commitment. The case of Konrad Zilliacus is however, interesting in many ways. Being a part of the exile community in Stockholm he was an active writer in the periodicals published by the exiled Constitutionalists. During that time, he also published several books, which discussed the history of Finland, Revolutionary Russia, and resistance. Zilliacus’s activities and history is interesting also from the point of view of the Russian Empire and the question of nationalism in the process of its collapse. While Zilliacus belonged to many minority groups of the Empire, being a Swedish-speaking citizen of the Finnish Grand Duchy with the Baltic-German roots, he found common language with many other nationalists of his generation in the Russian Empire, who shared his attitudes toward the unification politics of the Empire. Moreover, Zilliacus had close relationship with the Russian revolutionary movement. He tried to unite all enemies of the Tsar to overthrow the regime by organising a conference in Paris in 1904, which gathered nationalists, Russian revolutionaries and oppositional parties. This paper analyses through Zilliacus’s writings, how his political activism developed. His cooperation with the Russian revolutionaries shows also how nationalism and different ideologies were intertwined in the first decade of the 20th century. Important aspect in this analysis is the question of Revolutionary Russia. What role did the Russian revolutionaries and their parties and actions play in his radicalisation, and how Zilliacus’s own political thinking was aligned with their views?

Abstract

Abstract will follow shortely