Local Societies in Southeastern Europe in Transition from Empires to Nation States After WWI. Case Studies

Herausgegeben von / edited by Enikő Dácz


The present issue of the journal can be thematically traced back to the conference Paths of Transition/ Transformation. Local Societies in Southeastern Europe in Transition from Empires to Nation States after WWI, which was organized at the initiative of Dr. Gábor Egry on the 23rd and 24th November 2017 in Munich. The Institute for German Culture and History of Southeastern Europe (IKGS), the Institute of Political History in Budapest, Collegium Carolinum, and the Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies hosted the conference, which was tightly connected to the Budapest based research project Negotiating Post-imperial Transitions 1918–1925. A Comparative Study of Local Transitions from Austria-Hungary to the Successor States led by Egry. The research topics could be continued and deepened beginning with 2018 in the ERC Consolidator project Nepostrans – Negotiating Post-imperial Transitions: From Remobilization to Nation-state consolidation. A Comparative Study of Local and Regional Transitions in Post-Habsburg East and Central Europe, main investigator remained Egry. Thanks to this constellation the original intention of publishing the conference papers got through several modifications and major changes.

The present papers can be read as additions to the vast literature published on postimperial transitions in Southeastern Europe and aim to point out topics that need further research and encourage discussion on some aspects of this transitional period from a regional or local perspective. In this sense Gábor Egry (Institute of Political History, Budapest) focuses on questions of moral economy and high imperial capital arguing that the obligations of Romanian businessmen prior to 1918 were part of a moral economy of the high capital as opposed to the classic understanding of the term, and also complemented with a strategy of embedding industrial works in local society by co-opting local political elites. He shows some of the results of the discrepancy between the normative, nationalist discourse of statehood and the ambiguous practice of Romanianization.

Ivan Jeličić (University of Rijeka) and Jernej Kosi (University of Ljubljana) represent the young generation of academics involved in the above-mentioned research projects. Jeličić’s paper on Fiume’s Political Elites and Their Challengers in the transitional period after World War I examines continuity and discontinuity between municipal councils of the late Habsburg period and the Italian National Council. He shows that there was not a clear straightforward evolution from previous Hungarian state loyalties to new nation-state annexations. A similar situation is described by Kosi when focusing on Slovene Ethnolinguistic nationalism in post-imperial school administration in Prekmurje. His paper argues that Slovene officials who came to Prekmurje regarded monolingual Slovene schools as an essential tool for the dissemination of Slovene national ideas and the socialization of pupils into members of the Slovene nation.

The next two case studies investigate the Czechoslovak transitional period: Ségolène Plyer (University of Strasbourg) and Attila Simon (Fórum Minority Research Institute in Šamorín/Somorja and Selye János University in Komárno/Komárom) focus on Bohemia’s Eastern Border and the city of Košice/Kassa/Kaschau.

Plyer’s case study in Eastern Bohemia shows that integration was noticeably quicker when the local elites were well connected to the new political centre. Learning the new rules of the game proved to be much more difficult in the city of Košice, where the possibility of a consensus-based transition of power was ultimately not realized and at least temporarily violent solutions also emerged.

The closing paper from Svetlana Suveica (University of Regensburg) represents not only a thematical, but also an important regional shift. The life trajectory of an individual political actor from Bessarabia is examined in “national” context. The case of Pantelimon V. Sinadino, a former mayor of Chișinău and a prominent landowner, shows, how the former elite negotiated their new social roles under the Romanian regime. With these aspects of a well-researched actual topic, we hope to give an incentive to further debates and offer insights into international research projects to our regions.