Eastern Europe’s Minorities in a Century of Change

To mark the Institute for Historical Research’s centenary, the BASEES Study Group for Minority History is proud to present ‘Eastern Europe’s Minorities in a Century of Change’, a podcast series on the history of minorities and minority experiences in twentieth-century Central and Eastern Europe. While often presented as simply long-suffering victims of historic persecution, this series investigates the historical roles such groups played in this vast and complex region spanning the Baltics to the Eastern Mediterranean and the Rhine to the Ural Mountains.

Bringing together a range of interviews with internationally recognised experts, it considers how the momentous changes that befell the region in this period impacted upon the lives of millions, such as the creation of new countries on the ruins of Europe’s former empires.

Guests include Orlando Figes (Birkbeck, University of London), Molly Greene (Princeton University), Mark Levene (University of Southampton), Cathie Carmichael (University of East Anglia), Andrii Portnov (European University, Viadrina), Matthew Frank (University of Leeds), Raul Carstocea (Maynooth University), Boerries Kuzmany (University of Vienna), John Paul Newman (Maynooth University), and Tomasz Kamusella (University of St Andrews). Each episode will be released weekly from early October and will be made available for free via a range of online platforms including the official IHR and BASEES websites.

Episode 1: “Greeks and Muslims in the Classical Ottoman Empire”

Prof Molly Green (Princeton University) in conversation with Samuel Foster

In this episode, Molly Greene, Professor of History and Hellenic Studies at Princeton University, talks to us about civil and cultural relations during the Ottoman Empire’s ‘Classical Age’ from 1300-1800. Focusing on the Empire’s Christian Greeks, Molly considers how this period would define modern Greek identity. Key to this was a perceived sense of historical persecution, necessitating a Christian ‘flight to the mountains’.

Episode 2: Minority Protection and Population Transfers in interwar Europe

Matthew Frank (University of Leeds) in conversation with Michal Frankl

In this episode, Michal Frankl, principal investigator of the ERC-funded project “Unlikely refuge? Refugees and citizens in East-Central Europe in the 20th century” at the Masaryk Institute and Archive of the Czech Academy of Sciences talks to Matthew Frank, Associate Professor in International History at the University of Leeds about the mass displacement of minority populations in interwar Europe. Focussing primarily on the ideologies and actions of governments and international organizations, Matthew considers how such population transfers concurred with the nascent minority protection regime set out by the League of Nations and came to be widely accepted as a state-building mechanism for the newly established nation-states of Eastern Europe.

“Unlikely refuge? Refugees and citizens in East-Central Europe in the 20th century” www.unlikely-refuge.eu/

Matthew Frank, Making Minorities History. Population Transfer in Twentieth-Century Europe (Oxford UP, 2017): global.oup.com/academic/product/…41?cc=ua&lang=en&

Episode 3: Minorities in Interwar Romania and the Rise of Fascism

Raul Cârstocea (Maynooth University) in conversation with Roland Clark (University of Liverpool)

In this episode, Raul Cârstocea, Lecturer in European History at Maynooth University and Honorary Fellow at the Stanley Burton Centre for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, University of Leicester, talks to Roland Clark (University of Liverpool) about historical antisemitisim and the rise of fascism in interwar Romania. He discusses the dramatic expansion of Romania’s borders following the First World War and the appearance of greater diversity in what had previously been a relatively homogenous population. The newly-incorporated territories included many Jews, who became a scapegoat for many of Romania’s postwar socioeconomic problems. Raul considers the role antisemitic narratives played in the emergence of the native fascist movement, and what distinguished it from other far-right groups in Europe before the Second World War.

Episode 4: The Minority Question in Poland: Past and Present

Tomasz Kamusella (University of St Andrews) in conversation with Olena Palko

In this episode, Tomasz Kamusella, Reader in European History at the University of St Andrews, talks to us about the national and minority questions in modern Poland. Focusing on Poland’s language and minority policies from 1918, Tomasz considers how Polish nationalism came to define the ethnic make-up of interwar Poland and keeps shaping a particular idea of the country as an ethnically homogeneous nation-state. Tomasz discusses language politics, both in Poland and Central Europe in general, to show how national activists and politicians constructed languages and minorities in this region.

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