Conference: Moving Beyond The Center-Periphery Dynamics: Central and Eastern Europe From The Mid-19th Century to The Present

April 5-6, 2024 | University of Ottawa, Canada 

May 30-31, 2024 | University of Lille, France

Since the 18th century, the discourse on modernization—understood as a process aiming to align social organization with the expectations and needs of societies and carrying a promise of emancipation—identifies the Western form of modernity, in its political (democracy) and economic (capitalism) dimensions, as a model to follow. In the multicultural empires of Central and Eastern Europe, divergences in the paths and rhythms of political, economic, and social modernization engraved in collective imaginaries the idea of a structural delay of these societies compared to the rest of Europe, relegating them to the periphery—or semi-periphery—of the Western world (Ivan T. Berend). Since the works of Larry Wolf and Maria Todorova, this sort of intra-European orientalism has been deconstructed. Nevertheless, the discourse of structural delay in this part of Europe compared to the core of the western world has been influential in the Austrian, Russian, and Ottoman empires and in the countries that succeeded them, from the end of the First World War to today. This discourse justified structural reforms and enabled the rise of social groups interested in and useful for these reforms. It also fueled dissenting discourses and contributed to the production of alternative models, in a relationship of interdependence and exchange with countries situated in the core of the Western world (Claudia Kraft). This conference aims to examine the experience of Central and Eastern European countries with the modernization process from the late 18th century to the present, beyond the center-periphery dynamics.


Ottawa Cession

Friday, April 5, 2024

  • uOttawa, Faculty of Social Sciences, 120 University Private, Ottawa, room 7035 (Zoom link)

9:00-9:20 Welcome of the participants

9:20-9h30 Roman Krakovsky (uOttawa, Canada), Opening remarks

9:30-10:10 Key speakers : John Connelly (University of Berkeley, USA) and Constantin Iordachi (CEU, Austria)

10:10-11:10 : Panel I. Tensions between Modernity and Tradition

Discussant: to be confirmed

  • Marie-Josée Lavallée (University of Montréal, Canada), Educating the Socialist youth to modernize society: the case of the Verband Jugendlicher Arbeiter Österreichs until 1918
  • Jelena Gajić (Charles University, Czech Republic), Education and Modernization: the Case of Muslim Girls in Interwar Yugoslavia
  • Martin Löhnig (University of Regensburg, Germany), Central Europe in the Interwar Period as a Laboratory for Contemporary Legislation (zoom)

11:10-11:30 Break

11:30-12:50 Panel II. Strategies of Modernization During the Late 19th Century and the Interwar Period

Discussant: Constantin Iordachi (CEU, Austria)

  • Alessandro Milani (EPHE, France), A Case Study of Managed Modernization: How the Ruthenians of Galicia Became Ukrainians (1848-1900). Political and Religious Aspects
  • Boris Popivanov (St. Kliment Ohridski Sofia University, Bulgaria), Claims of Authenticity in Modernization: Bulgarian Ideological Debates on ‘National’ and ‘Foreign’
  • Attila Pok (Academy of Sciences, Hungary), Masonic Interpretations of Modernization in the Interwar Hungary in an Eastern and Central European Context
  • Giuseppe Motta (La Sapienza University, Italy), Making Romania Great. The Ambiguities of Romanian Modernization in the Interwar Period

12:50-14:10 Lunch Break

14:10-15:30 Panel III. Socialist Modernities

Discussant: James Krapfl (McGill, Canada)

  • Melvin Bernard (EHESS, France), Self-Management or the Yugoslav Path to Socialist Modernity: The Case of Housing Policy (1974-1990)
  • Niya Metodieva (EHESS, France), Controlling Time, Controlling Minds? The Morking Brigades in the People’s Republic of Bulgaria: Between Obligation and Social Leverage (1946-1950)
  • Roman Krakovsky (University of Ottawa, Canada), ‘The Lord’s Day is now the Worker’s Day!’ Transforming the Seven-Day Cycle in Slovakia During the 1950s
  • Tanja Zimmermann (Universität Leipzig, Germany), Miming the West: Western Pop-Culture Icons and Their GDR Doubles (zoom)

Saturday, April 6, 2024 (zoom link)

9:00-9:30 Welcome

9:30-10h40 Panel IV. Challenging Center-Periphery Narrative

Discussant: Thomas Ruckebrush (University of Lille, France)

  • Malgorzata Mazurek (Columbia University, USA), The Decolonisation of Knowledge?: The Making of the African University, the Power of the Imperial Legacy, and the Eastern European Influence
  • Paulina Dominik (European University Institute, Italy), From Independence Fighters to Agents of Empire? Political Emigrés from Former Poland-Lithuania and the Nineteenth-Century Ottoman Modernising Reforms
  • Dan-Alexandru Săvoaia (University of Iasi, Romania), Social Reform in the New Europe – A Few Notes on Romania’s Tripartite Delegations in the mid-1920s
  • Slobodan Markovich (University of Belgrade, Serbia), Modernisation of South-East Europe, 1800-1941 seen through Cultural Transfer Europe – the Balkans (zoom)

10:40-11:00 Lunch Break

11:00-12:10 Panel V. Dynamics of Western Influence on Modernization of Central and Eastern Europe

Discussant: Malgorzata Mazurek (Columbia University, USA)

  • Thomas Ruckebusch (Université de Lille, France), Freedom as a Modernization Tool – The American Neoliberal Offensive on Eastern Europe at the Dawn of the Cold War
  • Andreea Deciu Ritivoi (Carnegie Mellon University, USA), In Their Own Words: The Political Voice of Cold War Political Refugees in the United States
  • Boris Vinogradov (University of Lille, France), Technology Transfers as a Soft Power Stimulating Democratization: the Case of Poland in the 1960s-1980s(zoom)

12:10-12:40 Final Discussion

12h40-14:00 Lunch Break

14:00 Guided Tour of the Canadian Museum of History (Ottawa)

Lille Cession 

Thursday, May 30, 2024 (zoom link)

9:00-9:30 Welcome of the Participants

9:30-10:10 Key Speaker : Thomas Serrier (Université de Lille, to be confirmed)

10:10-11:20 Panel I. The Modernization in Austria-Hungary and at the End of the 19th Century and its Challenges

Discussant: to be confirmed

  • Stephanie Truskowski (University of Notre Dame, USA), These Forces are the Engines that Will Drive the Nineteenth Century: Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian’s Travelogues as a Reflection on Habsburg Modernization
  • Claire Morelon (University of Manchester, UK), Forms of Resistance to the Democratization Process in Austria-Hungary from 1890 to 1914
  • Szilveszter Csernus-Lukács (University of Marburg, Germany / University of Szeged, Hungary), The Spatial Limits of Legal Modernization Within One State? The Challenges of Structural Political Reforms of the Late Habsburg Semi-Periphery
  • Robert Andrzejczyk (Józef Piłsudski Museum, Poland), The Bank as a Catalyst for Modernization. Case Study of Société Générale de Belgique Activities in Interwar Poland

11:20-11:40 Break

11:40-12:40 Panel II. The Peasant Question

Discutant: to be confirmed

  • Arina Fedorova (European University Institute, Italy), Capitalist “Modernization” of Peasants’ Lives in the Russian Empire: Failures and Successes of the Peasant’s Land Bank (1882-1917)
  • Tatiana Borisova (European University at St-Petersburg, Russia), Modernization via Moral Consciousness?: Introduction of Jury Trial In Russia
  • Luminita Gatejel (Leibniz-Institut für Ost- und Südosteuropaforschung, Germany), Turning Wetlands into “Productive” Land? Modernization and Rural Development in Interwar Romania

12:40-14:00 Lunch

14:00-15:10 Panel III. Borderlands of the Periphery ?

Discutant: Raul Cârstocea (Maynooth University, Ireland)

  • Stanislav Holubec (Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic), Borderlands questioning the centre and periphery? The Case of the Silesian-Czech Giant Mountains, 16th-19th Century
  • Aleksandra Tobiasz (Institute of Civilisation and Culture, Slovenia), Trieste and Gdańsk as two Central European Laboratories for Modernization
  • Maksim Demin (Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany), Ambiguity of Modernization: Higher Education Policy in the Russian Empire between Integration and Discrimination
  • Aleksandar Zlatanov (Academy of Sciences, Bulgaria), The Ottoman Balkans in the 19th Century: Peripheralization or Modernization?

15:10-15h30 Break

15h30-16:30 Panel IV. Chronopolitics of Modernization in Central and Eastern Europe

Discussant: to be confirmed

  • Raul Cârstocea (Maynooth University, Ireland), A Quest for Synchronicity: The Chronopolitics of Global Fascist Revolution in a Balkan Periphery
  • Andrei Sorescu (New Europe College, Bucharest / University College London, United Kingdom), The Politics of Peripheral Timeliness: Fin-de-siècle Central and Eastern European Antisemitism in a Transnational and Global Context
  • Vita Zalar (Academy of Sciences and Arts, Slovenia), International Chronopolitics of Anti Roma Racism: The “Gypsy Question” in Imperial and Postimperial Central and Eastern Europe

Friday, May 31, 2024 (zoom link)

9:00-9:30 Welcome

9:30-10:40 Panel V. The Modernization and Other Peripheries of the West (round table, in French)

Discutant: Roman Krakovsky (University of Ottawa)

  • Gilles Bataillon (CESPRA, France) 
  • Matthieu Rey (IFPO, France)
  • Pierre-François Souyri (Université de Genève, Switzerland) 

10:40-11:00 Break

11:00-12:00 Panel VI. The Modernization and Other Peripheries of the West (case studies)

Discussant: to be confirmed

  • Dominique Vidal (Université de Paris, France), What type of democracy is post-Bolsonaro Brazil ?
  • Micheline Lessard (University of Ottawa, Canada) : Title to be confirmed

12:00-12:30 Final Discussion

12:30-14:00 Lunch

14:00 Guided tour of the Villa Cavrois (Roubaix)

This conference is jointly sponsored by the Chair in Slovak History and Culture of the University of Ottawa, Canada, and Chaire d’excellence de l’Université de Lille, France.

Social Widgets powered by