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eastern europe or central europe

eastern europe or central europe

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Security - Balkan - Conflicts
Security - Balkan - Conflicts

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Published by: Contras on Feb 07, 2009
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02/01/2013

UCIAS Edited Volume 3
The Politics of Knowledge: Area Studies and the
Disciplines
Year\ue001\ue000\ue000\ue001
Article\ue002
Eastern Europe or Central Europe?
Exploring a Distinct Regional Identity
Ellen Comisso\u2217
Brad Gutierrez\u2020
ecomisso@weber.ucsd.edu
\u2217University of Cal\ufb01ornia, San Diego
\u2020University of California, San Diego
This article is part of the University of California International and Area Studies Digital
Collection.
http://repositories.cdlib.org/uciaspubs/editedvolumes/3/7
Copyrightc
\ue0002002 by the authors.
1
EASTERN\ue000EUROPE\ue000OR\ue000CENTRAL\ue000EUROPE?\ue000EXPLORING\ue000A\ue000DISTINCT\ue000REGIONAL\ue000
IDENTITY
Ellen\ue000Comisso\ue000and\ue000Brad\ue000Gutierrez
University\ue000of\ue000California,\ue000San\ue000Diego

Perhaps\ue000even\ue000more\ue000than\ue000area\ue000studies\ue000in\ue000other\ue000regions\ue000of\ue000the\ue000world,\ue000East\ue000European\ue000studies\ue000
in\ue000the\ue000United\ue000States\ue000developed\ue000as\ue000an\ue000artifact\ue000of\ue000the\ue000Cold\ue000War.\ue000As\ue000an\ue000object\ue000of\ue000study,\ue000the\ue000area\ue000was,\ue000
in\ue000effect,\ue000the\ue000poor\ue000cousin\ue000of\ue000Soviet/Slavic\ue000studies,\ue000emerging\ue000as\ue000a\ue000distinct\ue000field\ue000just\ue000as\ue000detente\ue000was\ue000
getting\ue000under\ue000way.1\ue000Thus,\ue000despite\ue000the\ue000very\ue000different\ue000prewar\ue000traditions\ue000and\ue000concerns\ue000of\ue000the\ue000two\ue000
areas,\ue000postwar\ue000East\ue000European\ue000and\ue000Soviet\ue000studies\ue000developed\ue000in\ue000tandem\ue000with\ue000each\ue000other\ue000in\ue000the\ue000
United\ue000States,\ue000sharing\ue000both\ue000funding\ue000sources\ue000and\ue000institutional\ue000bases.\ue000If\ue0001991\ue000saw\ue000the\ue000
\u201cdisappearance\u201d\ue000of\ue000Soviet\ue000area\ue000studies,\ue000the\ue000fall\ue000of\ue000the\ue000Berlin\ue000Wall\ue000in\ue0001989\ue000had\ue000analogous\ue000
consequences\ue000for\ue000East\ue000European\ue000studies,\ue000and\ue000major\ue000questions\ue000were\ue000raised\ue000as\ue000to\ue000what\ue000the\ue000
boundaries\ue000of\ue000a\ue000region\ue000called\ue000\u201cEastern\ue000Europe\u201d\ue000were\ue000and\ue000indeed,\ue000whether\ue000it\ue000existed\ue000at\ue000all.

Local\ue000colleagues,\ue000some\ue000at\ue000home\ue000and\ue000some\ue000residing\ue000abroad,\ue000led\ue000the\ue000charge\ue000here,\ue000arguing\ue000
that\ue000the\ue000postwar\ue000definition\ue000of\ue000Eastern\ue000Europe\ue000was\ue000little\ue000more\ue000than\ue000an\ue000intellectual\ue000legitimation\ue000of\ue000
the\ue000Yalta\ue000agreements.2\ue000The\ue000movement\ue000to\ue000recast\ue000the\ue000region\ue000as\ue000\u201cCentral\ue000Europe\u201d\ue000took\ue000on\ue000major\ue000
proportions\ue000in\ue000the\ue0001980s;\ue000while\ue000the\ue000view\ue000of\ue000what\ue000Central\ue000Europe\ue000included\ue000varied\ue000according\ue000to\ue000the\ue000
particular\ue000intellectual\ue000espousing\ue000it,\ue000there\ue000was\ue000broad\ue000agreement\ue000as\ue000to\ue000what\ue000Central\ue000Europe\ue000was\ue000
not--namely,\ue000the\ue000Soviet\ue000Union\ue000and\ue000Russia.

From\ue000the\ue000perspective\ue000of\ue000a\ue000field\ue000which,\ue000in\ue000the\ue000United\ue000States,\ue000had\ue000always\ue000recognized--and\ue000
even\ue000had\ue000a\ue000vested\ue000interest\ue000in\ue000recognizing--a\ue000distinction\ue000between\ue000Eastern\ue000Europe\ue000and\ue000the\ue000Soviet\ue000
Union,\ue000it\ue000might\ue000well\ue000be\ue000argued\ue000that\ue000simply\ue000changing\ue000an\ue000adjective\ue000\ue000makes\ue000little\ue000difference.\ue000Yet\ue000it\ue000is\ue000
worth\ue000beginning\ue000an\ue000analysis\ue000of\ue000contemporary\ue000area\ue000studies\ue000with\ue000the\ue000debate\ue000on\ue000Central\ue000Europe,\ue000
since\ue000that\ue000discussion\ue000often\ue000seems\ue000to\ue000imply\ue000a\ue000different\ue000boundary\ue000to\ue000the\ue000area\ue000as\ue000well\ue000as\ue000a\ue000novel\ue000set\ue000
of\ue000features\ue000that\ue000would\ue000link\ue000its\ue000parts\ue000together,\ue000issues\ue000any\ue000overview\ue000of\ue000regional\ue000studies\ue000must\ue000
confront.\ue000I\ue000shall\ue000try\ue000to\ue000show\ue000here\ue000that\ue000the\ue000fact\ue000that\ue000such\ue000a\ue000debate\ue000exists\ue000at\ue000all\ue000is\ue000itself\ue000a\ue000sign\ue000of\ue000a\ue000
distinct\ue000regional\ue000identity,\ue000that\ue000the\ue000\u201cCentral\ue000Europe\u201d\ue000appellation\ue000is\ue000no\ue000less\ue000(and\ue000no\ue000more)\ue000a\ue000
political\ue000construct\ue000than\ue000the\ue000former\ue000\u201cEast\ue000European\u201d\ue000title\ue000was,\ue000and\ue000that\ue000the\ue000factors\ue000that\ue000defined\ue000
Eastern\ue000Europe\ue000as\ue000a\ue000distinct\ue000region\ue000in\ue000the\ue000postwar\ue000period\ue000continue\ue000to\ue000define\ue000Central\ue000East\ue000Europe\ue000
today.

Once\ue000establishing\ue000the\ue000contours\ue000of\ue000a\ue000distinct\ue000regional\ue000identity,\ue000I\ue000\ue000review\ue000the\ue000field\u2019s\ue000
evolution\ue000prior\ue000to\ue000the\ue000Great\ue000Political\ue000Landslide\ue000of\ue0001989,\ue000and\ue000conclude\ue000by\ue000exploring\ue000the\ue000main\ue000
changes\ue000and\ue000challenges\ue000in\ue000the\ue000study\ue000of\ue000the\ue000region\ue000that\ue000have\ue000taken\ue000place\ue000since\ue000then.

1\ue000See\ue000Gordon\ue000Turner,\ue000\u201cThe\ue000Joint\ue000Committee\ue000on\ue000Slavic\ue000Studies,\ue0001948-71,\u201d\ue000in\ue000ACLS\ue000Newsletter\ue00023\ue000(Spring\ue0001972):6-
25.
2\ue000See\ue000Milan\ue000Kundera,\ue000\u201cThe\ue000Tragedy\ue000of\ue000Central\ue000Europe,\u201d\ue000The\ue000New\ue000York\ue000Review\ue000of\ue000Books,\ue000April\ue00026\ue0001984:\ue00034-8;\ue000
Ferenc\ue000Feher,\ue000\u201cEastern\ue000Europe\u2019s\ue000Long\ue000Revolution\ue000Against\ue000Yalta,\u201d\ue000East\ue000European\ue000Politics\ue000and\ue000Societies\ue0002\ue000\ue000(No.\ue0001,\ue000
Winter\ue0001988):\ue00020-41.
Comisso\ue000and\ue000Gutierrez:\ue000Eastern\ue000Europe\ue000or\ue000Central\ue000Europe?\ue000Exploring\ue000a\ue000Distinct\ue000Regional\ue000I
Produced by The Berkeley Electronic Press, 2003
2
What\ue000is\ue000Eastern--or\ue000Central--Europe?

The\ue000boundaries\ue000of\ue000Eastern\ue000Europe\ue000which\ue000defined\ue000American\ue000postwar\ue000studies\ue000of\ue000the\ue000area\ue000
were\ue000indeed\ue000based\ue000on\ue000its\ue000political\ue000features.\ue000They\ue000thus\ue000included\ue000all\ue000of\ue000the\ue000European\ue000socialist\ue000states\ue000
outside\ue000the\ue000Soviet\ue000Union\ue000itself:\ue000East\ue000Germany,\ue000Poland,\ue000Czechoslovakia,\ue000Hungary,\ue000Romania,\ue000
Bulgaria,\ue000Yugoslavia,\ue000and\ue000Albania.\ue000Greece\ue000was\ue000conveniently\ue000placed\ue000in\ue000Western\ue000Europe--despite\ue000
its\ue000social\ue000and\ue000historical\ue000affinities\ue000with\ue000the\ue000rest\ue000of\ue000the\ue000Balkan\ue000peninsula--while\ue000Austria,\ue000the\ue000center\ue000
of\ue000many\ue000of\ue000the\ue000cultural\ue000characteristics\ue000and\ue000continuities\ue000nowadays\ue000considered\ue000classically\ue000\u201ccentral\u201d\ue000
European,\ue000was\ue000typically\ue000treated\ue000in\ue000isolation\ue000from\ue000its\ue000former\ue000hinterland.\ue000As\ue000for\ue000the\ue000Baltic\ue000states,\ue000
they\ue000were\ue000confided\ue000to\ue000Soviet\ue000studies,\ue000again\ue000reflecting\ue000political\ue000realities.\ue000While\ue000such\ue000a\ue000division\ue000of\ue000
the\ue000region\ue000surely\ue000created\ue000difficulties\ue000for\ue000historians\ue000and\ue000students\ue000of\ue000the\ue000arts,\ue000it\ue000raised\ue000few\ue000problems\ue000
for\ue000the\ue000core\ue000social\ue000science\ue000disciplines\ue000of\ue000sociology,\ue000political\ue000science,\ue000or\ue000economics.\ue000

As\ue000for\ue000the\ue000notion\ue000of\ue000Central\ue000Europe,\ue000it\ue000had\ue000certainly\ue000enjoyed\ue000some\ue000currency\ue000in\ue000the\ue000
interwar\ue000period.\ue000Yet\ue000even\ue000then,\ue000it\ue000carried\ue000no\ue000less\ue000political\ue000baggage\ue000than\ue000the\ue000postwar\ue000definition\ue000of\ue000
the\ue000area.\ue000On\ue000the\ue000one\ue000hand,\ue000there\ue000was\ue000Friedrich\ue000Naumann\u2019s\ue000\u201cMitteleuropa,\u201d\ue000in\ue000which\ue000the\ue000area\u2019s\ue000
defining\ue000characteristic\ue000was\ue000its\ue000ties\ue000to\ue000Germany,\ue000whether\ue000through\ue000settlement,\ue000trade,\ue000hegemony,\ue000or\ue000
conquest.3\ue000On\ue000the\ue000other,\ue000there\ue000was\ue000the\ue000central\ue000Europe\ue000Tomas\ue000Masaryk\ue000looked\ue000to:\ue000a\ue000region\ue000of\ue000
small\ue000states,\ue000from\ue000which\ue000Germany\ue000and\ue000Germans\ue000were\ue000excluded.4\ue000Both\ue000conceptualizations\ue000
captured\ue000important\ue000aspects\ue000of\ue000this\ue000\u201cproblem\u201d\ue000area,\ue000and\ue000each\ue000led\ue000to\ue000diametrically\ue000opposite\ue000
political\ue000conclusions.\ue000Yet\ue000in\ue000classically\ue000East/Central\ue000European\ue000fashion,\ue000what\ue000nominally\ue000appeared\ue000
to\ue000be\ue000identities\ue000totally\ue000at\ue000odds\ue000with\ue000each\ue000other\ue000turned\ue000out\ue000to\ue000be\ue000entirely\ue000complementary.\ue000It\ue000was\ue000
precisely\ue000the\ue000Central\ue000Europe\ue000of\ue000small\ue000states,\ue000each\ue000competing\ue000with\ue000the\ue000other\ue000and\ue000allying\ue000against\ue000its\ue000
neighbor\ue000in\ue000pursuit\ue000of\ue000\ue000its\ue000\u201cnational\u201d\ue000interest\ue000that\ue000provided\ue000the\ue000opportunity\ue000for\ue000the\ue000economic\ue000and\ue000
then\ue000political\ue000hegemony\ue000a\ue000newly\ue000aggressive\ue000Germany\ue000was\ue000able\ue000to\ue000establish\ue000for\ue000itself\ue000in\ue000the\ue000area\ue000as\ue000
World\ue000War\ue000II\ue000approached.5

Nor\ue000was\ue000the\ue000convergence\ue000of\ue000the\ue000two\ue000prewar\ue000incarnations\ue000of\ue000the\ue000Central\ue000European\ue000idea\ue000
accidental.\ue000Both\ue000stemmed\ue000from\ue000the\ue000same\ue000basic\ue000premise:\ue000that\ue000people\ue000had\ue000a\ue000unique\ue000\u201cnational\ue000
identity\u201d\ue000and\ue000therefore\ue000deserved\ue000a\ue000\u201cnational\ue000territory\u201d\ue000in\ue000which\ue000they\ue000could\ue000express\ue000it,\ue000preferably\ue000
without\ue000other\ue000peoples\ue000getting\ue000in\ue000their\ue000way.\ue000It\ue000was\ue000this\ue000premise\ue000that\ue000dropped\ue000out\ue000of\ue000the\ue000\ue0001980s\ue000
discourse\ue000on\ue000Central\ue000Europe,\ue000a\ue000discussion\ue000which\ue000highlighted\ue000the\ue000region\u2019s\ue000cultural\ue000interactions\ue000
and\ue000shared\ue000sensibilities.6\ue000Yet\ue000the\ue000notion\ue000of\ue000Central\ue000Europe\ue000in\ue000its\ue000new\ue000incarnation\ue000was\ue000also\ue000a\ue000

3\ue000See\ue000Friedrich\ue000Naumann,\ue000Central\ue000Europe,\ue000trans.\ue000By\ue000Christabel\ue000Meredith\ue000(New\ue000York:\ue000Knopf,\ue0001917);\ue000Henry\ue000Meyer,\ue000

Mitteleuropa\ue000in\ue000German\ue000Thought\ue000and\ue000Action,\ue0001815-1945\ue000(The\ue000Hague:\ue000Njihoff,\ue0001955);\ue000Egon\ue000Schwartz,\ue000\u201cCentral\ue000 Europe--What\ue000It\ue000Is\ue000and\ue000What\ue000It\ue000Is\ue000Not,\u201d\ue000in\ue000George\ue000Schopflin\ue000and\ue000Nancy\ue000Wood,\ue000eds.,\ue000In Search\ue000of\ue000Central\ue000Europe (Cambridge:\ue000Polity\ue000Press,\ue0001989),\ue000pp.\ue000143-56/

4\ue000See\ue000Thomas\ue000Masaryk,\ue000The\ue000New\ue000Europe\ue000(The\ue000Slav\ue000Standpoint),\ue000Lewisburg:\ue000Bucknell\ue000University\ue000Press,\ue0001972);\ue000
Roman\ue000Szporluk,\ue000The\ue000Political\ue000Thought\ue000of\ue000Thomas\ue000G.\ue000Masaryk\ue000(New\ue000York:\ue000Columbia\ue000University\ue000Press,\ue0001981).
5\ue000See\ue000Joseph\ue000Rothschild,\ue000East\ue000Central\ue000Europe\ue000Between\ue000the\ue000Two\ue000World\ue000Wars\ue000(Seattle:\ue000Washington\ue000University\ue000Press,\ue000
1974).
6\ue000See\ue000essays\ue000in\ue000Schopflin\ue000and\ue000Wood,\ue000eds.,\ue000In\ue000Search\ue000of\ue000Central\ue000Europe;\ue000Timothy\ue000Garton\ue000Ash,\ue000The\ue000Uses\ue000of Adversity:\ue000

Essays\ue000on\ue000the\ue000Fate\ue000of\ue000Central\ue000Europe\ue000(Cambridge:\ue000Penguin,\ue0001989);\ue000Ference\ue000Feher,\ue000\u201cOn\ue000Making\ue000Central\ue000Europe,\u201d\ue000
East\ue000European\ue000Politics\ue000and\ue000Societies\ue0003\ue000(No.\ue0003,\ue000Fall\ue0001989),:412-448.\ue000Gyorgy\ue000Konrad\u2019s\ue000portrayal\ue000of\ue000\ue000Eastern\ue000v.\ue000Central\ue000
Europe\ue000is\ue000typical\ue000in\ue000this\ue000regard:\ue000when\ue000discussing\ue000nationalism,\ue000it\ue000is\ue000a\ue000phenomenon\ue000which\ue000occurs\ue000in\ue000Eastern\ue000Europe,\ue000

UCIAS\ue000Edited\ue000Volumes
Vol.\ue0003\ue000[2002],\ue000Article\ue0007
http://repositories.cdlib.org/uciaspubs/editedvolumes/3/7

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