Beyond Trianon. The exit from war in Danubian Europe: a new era?
International Conference, Budapest, June 11-13, 2020
The Trianon 100 „Momentum” research group of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the research group ERC NEPOSTRANS are inviting prospective participants to contribute to an international conference co-organized by the two project teams, to be held on 11-13 June 2020 in Budapest.
The Hungarian peace treaty ranks as a prime example of the transformation in Danubian region brought about by the Paris Peace Conference. Scholarly contributions about its history have proliferated since the 1960s (authors include Magda Adam, Mária Ormos, Ernő Raffay, Ignác Romsics, Miklós Zeidler), primarily exploring the diplomatic and military dimensiosn. Recent works have tended to enrich these traditional perspectives and escape the analytic dichotomy between victorious states and the vanquished, revealing instead the complex experiences of the populations of the former Dual Monarchy. This conference aims to further contribute to this stream of research on the social history of change in Danubian Europe between 1918 and 1924 and rise to the challenge of writing comparative histories of a historical moment that saw concepts and ideas become increasingly internationalized (Jörn Leonhard). Looking beyond the intricacies of the treaties, the conference attempts to gauge the period as constituting a quasi-era with unique features – one that influences the collective memories and self-perceptions of the affected societies even today. In defining its chronological and thematic focus, the underlying goal is to establish a unitary and unifying framework for thinking about the era, incorporating disparate representations and historical practices.
The centennial of the continent-wide conflagration brought about a rediscovery of the Great War in Central and Eastern Europe, where scholars have increasingly turned to social and transnational history. Exit from that war has been reinterpreted through the lenses of violence, state (trans)formations, continuities and social disruptions, as well as sub-state, regional perspectives on the peace treaties. Robert Gerwarth, John Horne, and others (including John Paul Newman, Tamara Scheer, and Jochen Böhler) have recently shown that the “small wars” between 1918 and 1924 were at least as critical to the emergence of Central-European totalitarianism in the 1930s as the Great War according to brutalization theory as advanced by George L. Mosse. These conflicts took place on varying scales but were often connected, as local conflicts could fuel wars between states, at times even provoking the intervention of foreign powers. But the same logic of internationalization was inherent to other crisis situations, include the collapse of public provisioning, forced or voluntary migrations by hundreds of thousands of people (Peter Gatrell). These continental and at times global problems were addressed by the Peace Conference and later by international organizations, confessional and professional alike, in close cooperation with national institutions. Altogether, they contributed to the proliferation of actors on the international scene, a further driver and consequence of the trend towards internationalization inherent in the period. (Bruno Cabanes, Friederike Kind-Kovacs, Machteld Venken).
However, the history of this part of Europe in this period is not configured exclusively by violence. It is also the story of democratization and state building in new nations (and sometimes of failure, cf. Heidi Hein-Kirchner). All perspectives reinforce the fundamental realization, however, that the 1920s in Danubian Europe were characterized by the fluidity of the new states. Widespread phenomena include the multiplication of borders and, along with the establishment of new citizenships, the creation of national markets (Dominique K. Reill, Sebastian Paul, Mattheus Wechowski, Marcin Jarzabek, Máté Rigó), but also the rise of regionalism, while on the other hand, the social upheavals of the post-war period in some cases led to social revolutions and transformative attempts of a national or transnational character.
Works published on this period demonstrate the richness of topics suitable for a comparative approach which, in the context of the transition between World War I and the successor states of the dual monarchy, helps to reveal the transformation of relations between individuals and translocal, regional, international or transnational scales. Using the Hungarian case as a springboard, and broadening the perspective to the whole of Danubian Europe, the conference seeks to address the following questions.
- The social consequences of conflicts and international confrontations:
- The implications of the defeat, the revolutions, the disappearance of the Austro-Hungarian imperial framework, the foreign occupations, the health and economic crisis and their remedies, in particular the institutional solutions and activities of international organizations, including their effects on different social groups and their collective representations. Special attention will be given to issues of disability and gender, including questioning less visible histories of veterans, women, children and war invalids in the region. How did these groups cope with the challenges of the disappearance of the state and what was their fate in the new states?
- “The era of pygmy wars” in Central Europe and their social influence: violence, terror, “green cadres” and peasant uprisings, relations between cities and the countryside, media repercussions in the region.
- Aspects of ephemeral state formation (such as the Soviet Republic of Hungary, the Italian Regency of Carnaro, the Banat Republic, the Republic of Central Lithuania and many others) beyond politics. Is it possible to have a non-politics-focused interpretation of their existence and workings, despite the evident politicization of their emergence? The role of local elites, the impact of Wilsonism and regionalism, of alternative collective identities all represent aspects that have been accorded less than their due share in discussions dominated by the perspectives of the “durable” nation states.
- What kind of new social bonds emerged from these events?
- Social conflicts as indicators of change: old elites and new competitors. What was the role of the inherited pre-1914 social conflicts in the post-war upheavals, and which of the latter were driven more by new uncertainties and emergent social groups or new generations? What forms of adaptation to change prevailed and what kind of new loyalties emerged?
- Symbolic power and symbolic power relations. How did regional intellectual and artistic production reflect the changes of 1918-1924, seen through the lens of a “social history of ideas which insists on the works as well as on their uses, their diffusion and their reception”, and how it is possible to discern the different layers of society within? How did new nomenclatures, categories, ideas and explanations of reality affect power relations? How did the national infuse the local and the regional, and how to construct histories on the local or regional scale which go beyond reproducing the prevalent national patterns? Is a deconstruction of the national possible through analyses of the diffusion of new principles (democracy, secularism, nationalism etc.) after 1918 across different social groups?
- Local and (or) regional impact of long-term changes
- The types of social reconfigurations and realignments brought about by changes in how the “distant” state sought to control local relationships between individuals.
- What were the economic consequences at the regional level of the collapse of the common market of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, particularly in terms of monetary issues and energy, and how did the new technologies, especially in communication (aviation and radio) affect the reconfiguration of the national and regional economies?
- How did the multiplication of borders reconfigure space, what kind of functions did borders acquire and what were some of the spatial aspects of changes in citizenship?
The organizers invite proposals no longer than 300 words, accompanied by a short CV, by December 15, 2019 the latest.
Send CV-s and abstracts to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The conference will be held in English. Keynote speakers include Pieter Judson, Ignác Romsics, Gábor Egry. Depending on available financial means, the organizers will cover at least part of travel and lodging costs, especially for postgraduate students and speakers without funding from other sources.