“Breaking Away: Micronations, Microstates, and the Contestation of Sovereignty in East Central Europe, 1918–Present: Political Thought, Aesthetic Output, and their Afterlives”
Moise Palace, Cres, Croatia (September 1–2, 2023)
Organized by the Cultural Studies Department, University of Rijeka, and supported by the ERC project REVENANT
Recent historiographical turns and trends, especially New Imperial History, have led to a renewed scholarly interest in empires, whether through the comparative study of empires themselves or through new ways of looking at post-imperial and inter-imperial transitions, legacies, and memories. This conference responds to this recent wave of interest in such conjunctures by tackling the theme of imperial collapse, zooming in on multiethnic, inter-imperial borderlands as ‘sites’ of development for radically novel ways of conceptualizing statehood, citizenship, and, more broadly, the political.
Across the collapsing empires’ borderlands, microstates and micronations sprung up, whereby local communities, often led by a revolutionary intelligentsia, sought not only to break away from imperial structures, but also to redefine the notions of a political community and participation more broadly. While typically short-lived and rather unsuccessful, the comparison of their locations, their leaders’ and officials’ trajectories—together with the analysis of their political thinking and aesthetic output—can significantly contribute to diversify current understandings of the ‘long First World War’ in scholarship, as well as the complex local stakes and political thinking on overcoming the various tenets of the imperial.
The century since the First World War has witnessed the consolidation of the nation-state as a globally hegemonic political formation, even as imperial legacies and continuities persist. Nor have micronations disappeared. If the microstates and micronations of the early twentieth century were expressions of both imperial fragmentation and ambition, those of today reflect a comparable, if distinct, political logic: the paradoxical yoking of a liberal political language of sovereignty and self-determination—which presupposes statehood—to a neoliberal economic logic of deregulation that vilifies the state, and, by extension, politics as such.
This conference aims to address these issues from an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary perspective by engaging historians, anthropologists, memory studies scholars, literary scholars, art historians, political scientists, and scholars from adjacent fields in a joint conversation on these territories, communities, intellectual traditions, cultural products, and their prominent legacies. Papers will be welcome on, though by no means limited to, the following topics:
o The Bavarian Soviet Republic
o The Hungarian People’s and Soviet Republics (Oct. 1918–Aug. 1919)
o The Banat Republic
o The Serbian-Hungarian Republic Baranya-Baja
o The Republic of Tarnobrzeg
o The Lemko Republic
o The Makhnovshchina
o The Free City of Danzig
o The Labin Republic
o The Italian Regency of Carnaro/Free State of Fiume
o The Free Territory of Trieste
o The Reichsbürger movement
o The Autonomous Province of Western Bosnia
o The Republic of Vevčani
o Neue Slowenische Kunst
o The Seasteading movement / Arca Noë
Applications should include a brief abstract of the paper topic, including a title (max. 350–400 words), along with a brief biographical note (max. 150 words). Please send applications to firstname.lastname@example.org by May 15, 2023. Responses will arrive by the end of May.
Accommodation for the participants can be provided by the conference conveners. However, please indicate in your application if you do not need it or have some alternative source of funding for accommodation