Departure towards Democracy and Nation State? Current Research on the Local Level in Central and Eastern Europe (1917-1923)

Tim Buchen's picture
Call for Papers
July 1, 2018
Subject Fields: 
German History / Studies, Modern European History / Studies, Russian or Soviet History / Studies, Eastern Europe History / Studies, Political History / Studies


International Workshop: Departure towards Democracy and Nation State? Current Research on the Local Level in Central and Eastern Europe (1917-1923)


Hannah Arendt Institute for Totalitarianism Studiesat the TU Dresden

3-4 February 2018



Central Europe faced tremendous social and political changes even before the armistice of late 1918 and the foundation of new states in its aftermath. The Russian Revolutions of 1917 were followed by the peace treaty of Brest-Litovsk, that has been neglected by historians for decades and only recently has been appreciated as a turning point in the history of Eastern Europe.

These events marked the erosion of imperial statehood and the emergence of alternative forms of self-governance and empowerment. As a consequence, a vast range of short-lived republics were proclaimed and local councils demonstrated their will to replace the failing states and announced varying political agendas.


The workshop aims to discuss these transformations as processes of nationalisation and of democratisation in Central- and Eastern Europe between the years 1917 and 1923 in their various local, regional, national and international entanglements. As an important common theme we want to analyse continuities and turning points in political and social developments on the local level, that hitherto has not yet found sufficient scholarly attention. We are particularly interested in the dynamics of “top down” decisions and “bottom up” activism in multi-ethnic border regions. Especially the local arenas offered options to articulate interests of social groups and moderate differing aims of ethnic groups that were not available on the level of the emerging central state. Also, we would like to reconsider the important role women played in state-building and democratisation on local as well as national level, long before they gained suffrage in 1918.

The workshop is jointly organised by Sebastian Paul and Steffen Kailitz from the Hannah-Arendt-Institut für Totalitarismusforschung, Tim Buchen from Technical University Dresden and Rudolf Kučera from the Masaryk-Institute in Prague.

The keynote will be delivered by Dina Gusejnova (Sheffield)

We particularly encourage young scholars to present their current research on the following themes and topics:


  • The impact of the „Brest Litovsk Moment“ and the erosion of Empires on the process of transformation
  • Mutual interferences between nationalisation and democratisation on the local and state level as well as on a bilateral/transnational level
  • Women as specific political actors during the process of democratisation and nationalisation on the local level and beyond
  • Shifting power relations and competing visions of the future among local activists


Please send a brief abstract of your paper (500 words max.) and a CV no later than 1 July 2018 to Sebastian Paul (


Costs for accommodation and travel within Europe will be covered by the organisers. We seek to publish a selection of papers as a special issue in an international journal. The workshop will be held in English and German. No translation provided.


Sebastian Paul

Tim Buchen

Steffen Kailitz