G – Patterns of integration and transregional dynamics in and across empires

Marginalisation, exclusion and inclusion: National minorities in political discourses in East-Central Europe in 1900-1919

Event Details

  • Date

    Thursday, 25 June - 15:30 – 17:30

  • Venue
    tba
  • Theme
    G – Patterns of integration and transregional dynamics in and across empires
Convenor
  • Timo Aava (University of Vienna)
Chair
  • Philip J. Howe (Adrian College)
Commentator
  • Philip J. Howe (Adrian College)
Panelists
  • Anna Adorjáni (University of Vienna)
  • László Bence Bari (Central European University)
  • Timo Aava (University of Vienna)

Papers

  • Anna Adorjáni
    Strategies of Marginalisation in the Hungarian Social Democratic Movement of the Early 20th Century

    Strategies of Marginalisation in the Hungarian Social Democratic Movement of the Early 20th Century

    The Social Democratic Party of Hungary was the first party organized from below hence, it reflected the multinational character of the Late Habsburg Hungary. Social democrats often called their annual plenary sessions “the true parliament of Hungary,” since before 1919 only 6% of the entire population had the right to vote and about half of Hungary’s population belonged to ethnicities other than Hungarian. In 1904 the Hungarian Social Democratic Party accepted a new nationalities policy granting equal rights to all nationalities. The party assembly adopted the organizational model of the Austrian Social Democratic Party and established created separate national party sections for German, Slovak, Serb, and Romanian workers which were organised on a non-territorial basis and designed to spread their message in the respective languages. These sections were also meant to rectify the twofold - national and class-based - oppression of non-Hungarian workers. Based on the minutes of the central party meetings and that of the nationalities’ sections, I will analyze the verbal and structural strategies of marginalization of German, Slovak, Serb, and Romanian party members and claims. However, the promise of equal treatment, conferring right to create separate administrative bodies within the party, and the right to use their own language was barely kept. My hypothesis is that despite the commitment to democratic values the central, dominantly Hungarian committee reiterated to old, “bourgeois” narratives and strategies of oppression. My aim is to deeper analyze these strategies of marginalization. Here, I will give special attention to the role of the (cultural) translators. Furthermore, I intend to show how the dynamics between center and periphery, theory and practice, and the struggle for resources re-activated class-alien (i.e. nationalist) behavior.
  • László Bence Bari
    State-Nation and (German) National Minority in the Czech(oslovak) Discourse of the First World War, 1917-1918

    State-Nation and (German) National Minority in the Czech(oslovak) Discourse of the First World War, 1917-1918

    The Bohemian provinces of the Habsburg Empire (Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia) were homes to two national movements: the German and the Czech ones that developed different aims by the early 20th century. I will focus on the Czech discourse(s) over this issue in the transnational settings of the British New Europe society and the Austrian Reichsrat during the period of the First World War. I will show how both the exiles lead by T. G. Masaryk and the parties of the Český Svaz within the Habsburg Empire made use of traditional arguments for a Czech(oslovak) state, but also reconceptualised their position from being a numerical majority of the historical provinces in into a national one of a new state. Bohemian Germans were inserted into the latter community as a national minority. I will argue that while the main Czech discourse revolved around the notion of national self-determination in- or outside of the Habsburg Monarchy, both external influences and historical experiences contributed to the conceptualization of the future Czech(oslovak) community as a civic or political one – in other words, a multi-ethnic state nation rather than an ethnic one.
  • Timo Aava
    Ideas of Minority Protection and Cultural Autonomy in Estonia in 1917-1919

    Ideas of Minority Protection and Cultural Autonomy in Estonia in 1917-1919

    New nation-states that were born after the collapse of Russian Empire had to face national diversity and adopt different strategies to deal with the question. Protecting national minorities by granting them cultural autonomy became an important element of the legal system and political practice of the Republic of Estonia: this promise was included in the Declaration of Independence of 1918 and the constitution. In 1925, the parliament passed the Law on Cultural Autonomy for National Minorities, which enabled national minorities to establish their own autonomous cultural self-governments to administer cultural and educational affairs. Approaching the topic through the lens of intellectual history, I aim to give an insight into the formative years of 1917-1919 to answer how and why politicians decided to include such model of minority protection in the Declaration of Independence and the constitution of the Estonian nation-state. Analysing the topic against the wider background of the ideas of minority protection that circulated in Europe at that time, I will focus on the role of experience of being a minority, proposals to reorganize Russian Empire and ideas to protect fellow-nationals in different parts of the country.

Abstract

In the times when nationalism has shaped political debates and practices, dealing with national diversity has been a question of power sharing. In the early 20th century ethnically heterogeneous regions such as the Habsburg Monarchy or the Baltic provinces of the Russian Empire show various ways how different ethnic groups and their agents negotiated the principles of equal rights and political representation. Our panel presents three case studies from the above-mentioned regions. Focusing on turning points in history (the emergence of the socialist idea, WWI) we try to show how in times of intensified discussion on representation and equality the key terms of these discussions (eg. nation and state) were re-conceptualised. We approach our case studies from the perspective of intellectual and conceptual history and discourse analysis and aim to analyse: 1. What led the majority towards sharing power with the minorities? 2. How did negotiations between majority and minority challenge national master-narrative their perception of themselves and their identities? 3. How the usage and interpretation of key concepts of the discussion perpetuated old practices or introduced new practices to exercise power?