D – Transregional connections and entangled regions

Non-Europeans seen from Central Europe: Conceptual and methodological approaches

Event Details

  • Date

    Sunday, 28 June - 9:00 – 11:00

  • Venue
    tba
  • Theme
    D – Transregional connections and entangled regions
Convenor
  • Marketa Krizova (Charles University in Prague)
  • Jitka Maleckova (Charles University in Prague)
Chair
  • Jitka Maleckova (Charles University in Prague)
Commentator
  • Marketa Krizova (Charles University in Prague)
Panelists
  • Marketa Krizova (Charles University in Prague)
  • Jitka Maleckova (Charles University in Prague)
  • Sarah Lemmen (Complutense University of Madrid)
  • Bálint Varga (Leipzig University / Hungarian Academy of Sciences)
  • Robert Born (Leipzig Univeristy)

Papers

  • Sarah Lemmen
    A non-colonial Orientalism - Czech Travel Writing on the Orient around 1900

    A non-colonial Orientalism - Czech Travel Writing on the Orient around 1900

    By the end of the 19th century, travels to the Orient had become popular among the European upper middle class. While members of the large colonial empires were certainly leading this trend, citizens of the Habsburg monarchy were participating, as well. For the “small nations” of Austria-Hungary, this extensive outreach to the Orient roughly coincided with intensive nationalization processes, which reflected in travel writing about national identity in a global context. Taking this as a starting point, the presentation will focus on Czech travelers to Africa and Asia from the end of the 19th century into the interwar period, whereby discussing the travelers’ reflections on the European Self and the Oriental Other, on colonialism and civilization, and on the role of the Czech nation in a global context. Without any direct colonial involvement of its own, the global position of the Czech society was by no means certain and had to be negotiated both in terms of a “small nation” throughout the Habsburg Monarchy and, subsequently, as the national majority in the newly founded Czechoslovak Republic. This presentation will use German travelogues as a way of comparison.
  • Bálint Varga
    Assessing labor migration in the United States and Romania and positioning Hungary in a global world

    Assessing labor migration in the United States and Romania and positioning Hungary in a global world

    In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when owning colonies was considered a sign of advancement, even those countries that did not have colonies showed colonial ambitions and in their relationship to non-European societies often took over colonial powers’ attitudes towards their colonies. Czechs belonged among those (Central) Europeans who not only lacked colonies, but even a state of their own. The paper explores Czechs’ attitudes towards Ottoman Turks and Muslim Slavs of Bosnia-Herzegovina, also called Turks, in order to address broader questions about the relationship of Central European societies to non-European Others. These include the impact of images of the Orient that were taken over from abroad and those that grew from memories of past conflicts and rivalries; the relationship between images of the Other and actual colonial practices; and the extent to which Czech speaking inhabitants of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (or others in a similar situation) had a chance to take part in the Habsburg Empire’s colonial project as Czechs. The paper argues that colonial attitudes can be found also in societies without a state of their own, but to describe these attitudes we need a more nuanced approach to complement more general categories, such as “colonialism” or “Orientalism”.
  • Jitka Maleckova
    Images and Acts: Czechs’ Attitudes towards Ottoman Turks and Slavic Muslims

    Images and Acts: Czechs’ Attitudes towards Ottoman Turks and Slavic Muslims

    In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when owning colonies was considered a sign of advancement, even those countries that did not have colonies showed colonial ambitions and in their relationship to non-European societies often took over colonial powers’ attitudes towards their colonies. Czechs belonged among those (Central) Europeans who not only lacked colonies, but even a state of their own. The paper explores Czechs’ attitudes towards Ottoman Turks and Muslim Slavs of Bosnia-Herzegovina, also called Turks, in order to address broader questions about the relationship of Central European societies to non-European Others. These include the impact of images of the Orient that were taken over from abroad and those that grew from memories of past conflicts and rivalries; the relationship between images of the Other and actual colonial practices; and the extent to which Czech speaking inhabitants of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (or others in a similar situation) had a chance to take part in the Habsburg Empire’s colonial project as Czechs. The paper argues that colonial attitudes can be found also in societies without a state of their own, but to describe these attitudes we need a more nuanced approach to complement more general categories, such as “colonialism” or “Orientalism”.
  • Robert Born
    Considerations on the Visual Strategies of the Orientalist Painting from East Central Europe in the Second Half of the 19th Century

    Considerations on the Visual Strategies of the Orientalist Painting from East Central Europe in the Second Half of the 19th Century

    The research of the last two decades has shown the existence of manifold Orientalist discourses from and with regard to East Central and South Eastern Europe conditioned by the plurality of ethnic constellations germane to the region. The visual component of these narratives has been largely ignored. The planned lecture will present the different modes of orientalist painting with a view to these two historical regions resp. of artists from these regions. For example, the works of the Czech painter Jaroslav Čermák (1830-1878), depicting the struggle of the South Slavic population against the Ottomans in Montenegro follow the pictorial conventions of French Orientalist painting. After 1878, these strategies were also increasingly used in staging Bosnia and Herzegovina as the oriental periphery of the Habsburg Monarchy. The second focus of the planned lecture, will discuss the rich pictorial production of artists from Eastern Central Europe, such as Karoly Libay (1814-1888) and Gyula Tornai (1861-1928), who traveled through Egypt, and Ferenc Eisenhut (1857-1903), who also undertook extensive journeys to the Caucasus, which has so far scarcely been taken into account in research on Orientalist painting. The discussion will focus on whether there was a specific "Eastern Central European" view of the population of these regions?

Abstract

Debates about the “margins of colonialism” have been going on for some time already in various national and regional historiographies in those parts of the world, both in and out of Europe, that were not directly involved in colonial expansion. That colonialism was not just a bilateral relationship between the metropole and the subdued (overseas) region may seem self-evident. However, the specificities of the ways in which certain groups of Europeans have constructed their identity/identities based on an encounter, real or imagined, with the non-European “Other” in the absence of an actual colonial enterprise deserves further exploration. Such study concerns the actual significance of colonialism for the respective regions, as well as the mechanisms of perceiving, constructing and stereotyping “otherness” in the broad context of modernization, nationalism, and restructuring of power relations in the global context. The panel is aiming to explore one specific case of informal colonialist entanglement - that of Central Europe, itself a region of problematic definition from both within and without, where the relation to the variously defined “Other” was always of great significance. A region located in the interior of the European continent, lacking direct access to the sea and the means to fulfil colonial ambitions, Central Europe was nevertheless involved in contacts with the non-European world, not to mention regions on the margins of Europe, in varied and complex ways. The panel seeks to reflect on the conceptualization of Central European attitudes to non-European Others: how best to approach the study of these relationships in the absence of direct colonial structures and often in a position of marginality in Europe. Given the different Austrian and Hungarian positions within the Habsburg Empire, for example, would it be possible to detect commonality in the approaches to non-Europeans of Czechs, Slovaks, Poles (within the Empire), Croats and Slovenians? Did Central Europeans benefit from the existence of the Habsburg Empire and use it in their “colonial” ambitions? Did they have colonial ambitions in the first place? How was the non-European “Other” defined, and where were the borders of Europe drawn? The study of these and related problems can enrich our understanding of Europe’s colonial history and contribute to discussions on the definition of “Europe” (for example, in relation to the Balkans and its complicated presence in Central European “colonialist” discourse). In order to fulfill this objective, the papers should offer methodological instigations and reflect on possibilities for comparison rather than merely present case-studies. For the purpose of the panel, Central Europe will be defined, loosely, as comprising the territory of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, even though we are fully aware of the objections that could be raised against such delineation. However, Switzerland, as another landlocked European country without a colonial empire of its own, would be a welcome case for comparison. In order to enable a more focused discussion and comparison on a common ground, we encourage papers dealing with the long 19th century (that is, between the end of the 18th century and the end of WWI).