East Central Europe Transnational

During the past few years, within the historical academic disciplines, we have witnessed a trend in perspectives of transfer- and integration history. This has been particularly the case since contrasting comparisons between various nations have become clearer, and the processes of globalization have awakened significant interest.  Simultaneously, the West European/Atlantic World is frequently placed “outside of Europe” on the one hand, and at the forefront on the other, the research group “East Central Europe Transnational” devotes its focus to the transnational dimension of the East Central European past(s). It combines doctoral training with empirical analyses of the economic, political, and cultural integrations of East Central European societies, as well as their respective participation in efforts of international organisations since the middle of the 19th Century.

The findings of this academic endeavor will be published in a three-volume handbook, East Central Europe in a Transnational Perspective: Strategies of Positioning in Global Processes / Edition of the Handbook “History of East Central Europe in Transnational Perspective”. The research group is part of the Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe (GWZO) and is led by Frank Hadler and Matthias Middell. 

A process of global networks developed in the late 19th Century, precisely during the same period that nationalization in East Central Europe reached the prevailing form of the territorialisation of societies.  The project examines strategies that were developed by economic, cultural and political players to position their respective societies within the processes of globalization and transnationalization.

The striving towards (re)gaining national sovereignty within imperial structures entailed a remarkable degree of border-crossing entanglement, as did the assertion of national self-interdependence of Czechoslovakia, Poland and Hungary in the decades following their founding in 1918.

Through five different case-studies, the Project Group “East Central Europe Transnational” at the GWZO has examined key economic, cultural, political and demographic dimensions of transnationalization.  These are exemplary studies about processes of localization and networking in a pre-structured transnational world, which complement each other geographically, and are closely coordinated through their cultural-historical research design.  After an initial project phase (2008-2010), the following topics are currently being examined: 

Dagmara Jajesniak-Quast: The Socialist Economic Integration of East Central Europe in the Comecon  and its Integration in the Global Economy

Uwe Müller: Politics of Infrastructure and Networking: Railway Connections of the Socialist Countries of East Central Europe

Anna Gorski: Migration in and out of the People’s Republic of Poland

Beata Hock: Cultural Foreign Policy of the Socialist Countries of East Central Europe in Comparison to the non-European World

Katja Naumann: East Central Europe in International Organisations after 1945

The results will be published in monographs, articles and edited volumns, as well as in a three-part handbook The History of East Central Europe in a Transnational Perspective.

Its first volume deals with the time from the end of World War I, focusing upon the entanglements between processes of nationalization and nation building, as well as a look at transnational movements under the condition of imperial structures. The second volume will address the involvement of the newly-created East Central European states in international organizations and in increasingly transnational networks of communication, as well as in the international divisions of labor (commodity chains, world markets and labor migration). Particular attention will be given to the influence of hegemonic powers on this region during the 1930s and 1940s. The transition period of 1944-1947/48, in which earlier transnational linkages of East Central Europe were dissolving and the foundation for the future integration into the Soviet geopolitical sphere were laid, will mark the end of coverage in this part of the handbook. The third volume will then pay attention to the so-called socialist integration, and will seek to reconstruct the mechanisms in the regional ‘division of labor’ under Soviet predominance. This volume will close with a prospect on another phase of transition, namely the transformation caused by the erosion of late Soviet socialism under Gorbachev, and the establishment of the various returning transnational linkages in the 1990s.

For more information on the International PhD Program "East Central Europe in Transnational Perspective" click here.