Roundtable participants: Anca Filipovici (Romanian Institute for Research on National Minorities, in Cluj, Romania), Christopher Wendt (European University Institute in Florence), Giuseppe Motta (Sapienza University of Rome) and Petru Negură (IOS).
Among the many challenges facing the new, or enlarged, nation-states that arouse on the territories of the former empires of Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe in 1918, few were as vexing or complex as the minorities’ question. During the First World War, both the Entente and Central Powers attempted to win the loyalties of various ethnic minorities across the region by exploiting societal discontent and promising recognition or even outright sovereignty. At the same time, political elites had worked to kindle patriotic feelings and nationalistic pride among their fellow countrymen, embracing popular slogans of self-determination while demanding independence, or unity, with their respective national ‘homeland’ following the war.
Organised in collaboration with the Leibniz-Institut für Ost- & Südosteuropaforschung, this roundtable considers how this sequence of historical contingencies shaped and defined the identities of many communities who found themselves living as national minorities after 1918. Focusing on the interwar Kingdom of Romania, a country that experienced sudden and dramatic diversification with the expansion of its borders following the Great War, our panellists assess the political, cultural and economic factors through which these identities were both constructed and contested.