Round table details


Aleksander Lupienko (Institute of History Polish Academy of Science)


Laura Kolbe (University of Helsinki), Andrea Pokludova (University of Ostrava) and Kamil Śmiechowski (University of Lodz)


Gathering voices in urban history and modernity in Central and Eastern Europe, we wish to examine struggles to make sense of industrialization and to forge an imagined urban community in the age of nationalization. Focusing on Łódź (Poland), and other industrialized cities in the region like Brno (Czech Republic) or Tampere (Finland), we ask if they may be seen as the shock cities (Briggs) and true capitals of the 19th century. Their history is intertwined with social change in Eastern Europe and poses a question about the whole region's struggles with modernity. The local multi-ethnic and class-conflict-ridden communities witnessed the rapid industrial growth in the imperial borderlands and later the arrival of the rising nation-state. Within the new context, their imaginary place shifted, and the local populations underwent a rapid nationalization in the age of competing ideological idioms. A starting point for discussion is a recently published book "From Cotton and Smoke: Łódź – Industrial City and Discourses of Asynchronous Modernity 1897–1994," which examines local press debates during four pivotal periods in regional history: turn of the 19th and 20th century, end of WWI and WWII, transition after 1989.