Small Nations and Global Identities: Czech Questions (Ikon, Brindleyplace, Birmingham)

Marta Filipova's picture
July 5, 2018
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
Eastern Europe History / Studies, European History / Studies, Modern European History / Studies, Nationalism History / Studies, Political History / Studies

The symposium considers the formation of modern Czech identity in the arts, politics and the media, focusing on key global events of the 20th century. It responds to various celebrations in the Czech Republic and the UK, including the centenary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia in 1918 and fiftieth anniversary of the Prague Spring and Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. In addressing the relationship between the small nation and its global identity, the programme explores three themes: the mythic portrayal of interwar Czechoslovakia as a Western oriented state and of the Czech people as passive victims of global events; the cyclical gain and loss of state sovereignty, covering the separation of the Czech and Slovak Republics in 1993; the construction of Czechs identity in relation to ‘others’, including German, Slovak and Roma diasporas. 


Hosted by the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham, the symposium coincides with the exhibition of contemporary Czech painter Vladimír Kokolia.



9.30 – 10.00



10.00 – 10.45

Exhibition tour with artist Vladimir Kokolia, curator Miroslav Ambroz and Ikon Director Jonathan Watkins


10.45 – 11.00


Dr Marta Filipová ((University of Birmingham)


11.00 – 12.30
Czech sovereignty

Chair: Matthew Rampley (University of Birmingham)

Prof Jiří Přibáň (Cardiff University), The history of Czech statehood and national identity

Prof Mary Heimann (Cardiff University), The state that failed

Dr Jakub Beneš (University of Birmingham), Populist nationalism between 1918 and 1948


12.30 – 13.30

Lunch break


13.30 –  15.30

Czech myths

Chair: Klaus Richter (University of Birmingham)

Dr Rajendra Chitnis (University of Bristol), The Czech myth of resistance: silence as a response to the German occupation

Dr Peter Zusi (UCL), On the Fringes of History: Richard Weiner observes the foundation of the republic

Dr Kelly Hignett (Leeds Beckett University), Constructing Czech identity ‘from the margins’

Dr Tom Dickins (University of Wolverhampton), The influence of the past, as reflected in the slogans and counter slogans of the socialist era


15.30 – 16.00

Coffee break


16.00 - 17.30

Czech others

Prof Mark Cornwall (University of Southampton), Mapping a queer geography of interwar Czechoslovakia in Europe

Dr Celia Donert (University of Liverpool), The rights of the Roma: the struggle for citizenship in postwar Czechoslovakia

Dr Monika Metyková (University of Sussex),  Brno 1918-2018: The city of Czechs, Germans and Jews


Full details are available on the symposium website where you can also register.


The event is generously supported by Ikon, the Centre for Modern and Contemporary History, BRIHC and Public Engagement of the University of Birmingham, the Czech Embassy in London and the Czech Club Birmingham CIC.

Contact Info: 

Dr Marta Filipová, University of Birmingham - organiser

Contact Email: