Blanck, Thomas, Universität zu Köln
In Search of Another Italy. Youth, Emotions, and the Nation in Fiume 1919/20
With the Armistice of Villa Giusti on November 4th 1918, the First World War officially ended in Italy: after more than three years of exhausting warfare, the Austro-Hungarian Empire had finally been defeated. The Italian na-tionalists who had campaigned for the war as a possibility of national renewal now expected to be rewarded for Italy’s military and economic sacrifices. And yet, although both South Tyrol, Trentino and Trieste fell to Italy, poet and war veteran Gabriele D’Annunzio coined the term “mutilated victory”, claiming that Italy’s territorial gains were far from sufficient compared to the nation’s war efforts.
Unlike before, D’Annunzio did not limit himself to public speeches and journalistic agitation: on September 12th 1919, he led a group of not yet demobilized veterans to Fiume, a multicultural port city in the northern Adriatic, mostly inhabited by Italians and Croats, proclaimed its annexation to the Kingdom of Italy and expected the Italian government to sustain his actions. But to not weaken Italy’s diplomatic position towards the Allies, Rome refrained from acknowledging D’Annunzio’s enterprise and ordered him to leave the city. Supported by large parts of the Italian public, D’Annunzio refused to leave and kept the city occupied for more than 15 months. Only the treaty of Rapallo between Italy and the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes in late autumn 1920 ended his adventure. On orders from prime minister Giolitti, Italian troops forced D’Annunzio and his so-called “legion-naires” to leave Fiume.
Although limited regarding its political and diplomatic outcome, Fiume soon became an allegory for another kind of nationhood: a vital Italian microcosm that had not yet been compromised by endless discussions and inflexible political costumes, but rather lived the ideal of a national community formed spontaneously by the energetic and emotionally charged action of young men and women. But not only famous artists such as the Futurists were enthusiastic about what was happening in Fiume. From all over Italy, common young men left their homes, work-places and regiments and moved to Fiume – even long after D’Annunzio had left, they kept traveling to the city. Based on autobiographical and archival sources, my paper poses the following questions:
- In what exactly consisted the endlessly repeated notion of the “other Italy” (l’altra Italia) which led numerous ordinary young men and women to Fiume? Was it a political or rather an emotional and/or affective concept?
- How did the imagined ideal of a national community and the experience of everyday life in Fiume inter-act? To what extent did the tensions between emotional expectations and experiences lead to a re-definition of the individual nationalisms?
- How did the young men and women negotiate the question of loyalty – be it to their left behind family, their leader D’Annunzio, or even the abstract entity of the Italian nation?
Special attention will be paid to the fact that it is impossible to classify Fiume as a clearly right-wing or left-wing phenomenon. Therefore, the question of nationhood will be answered without limiting it in advance to a certain political group, thus opening new perspectives on the history of nationhood in Italy and Europe during the tran-sitional phase after World War I.
Thomas Blanck, b. 1987 in Bremen, high school diploma 2006 in Bonn. Civil service in Rome, followed by a B.A. in Italienstudien (2011) and an M.A. in Public History (2014) at the Free University Berlin and Università degli Studi Roma Tre, funded by a scholarship of the Ev. Studienwerk Villigst. Since 2015 scholarship holder of the a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School for the Humanities, University of Cologne. Dissertation project: „Mobilizing the senses. Munich and Fiume in a State of Emergency, 1918-1922“. In Summer 2016 scholarship of the German Historical Institute Rome.
Cârstocea, Raul, European Centre for Minority Issues, Flensburg
Bringing Out the Dead: Mass Funerals, Cult of Death and the Emotional Dimension of Nationhood in the Case of the Legionary Movement in Interwar Romania
Based on previously unexplored archival sources and a close reading of the contemporary press, dedicating particular attention to the self-representations of the members of the ‘Legion of the Archangel Michael’ (also known as the ‘Iron Guard’), Romania’s interwar fascist movement, this proposal addresses the importance of reading the public funeral ceremonies which were one of the trademarks of the movement as an attempt to render salient an emotional dimension of nationhood to a Romanian people that was profoundly marked by the experience of World War I. In doing so, the proposed paper seeks to provide an answer to a set of related questions detailed below, as well as to dispel an aura of the extraordinary, even bizarre, that still surrounds the legionary cult of death (see e.g. Payne 1995), identified in a recent article as an expression of “thanatic nationalism” (Rusu 2016). By placing it in the broader context of the considerably expanded post-World War I Romanian state and its aggressive nationalising project to which – apparently paradoxically – the Legion stood in stark opposition, I argue instead that this “unique death cult, unusually morbid even for a fascist movement” (Payne 1995: 280-281) represented a fine-tuned and skilfully employed tool of mass mobilisation that resonated profoundly with popular emotional experiences of interwar Romania. The latter were simultaneously marked by the contrasting experiences of: a) the wartime trauma, where according to figures of the US War Department the losses (combining dead, wounded and missing) suffered by the Romanian Army reached 71.4% of the total 750,000 mobilised men and civilian casualties were the highest proportionally of all countries participating in the war (Veiga 1993: 19); b) the elation associated with the fulfilment of the national ideal through the proclaimed ‘Union of all Romanians’, doubled by a land reform which was presented as a comprehensive resolution of the country’s main social problem, the condition of “neo-serfdom” (Dobrogeanu-Gherea 1910) that the peasantry experienced; and c) the subsequent disillusionment with the persistence in ‘Greater Romania’ (as the interwar state was popularly known at the time) of all the socio-economic and political problems (from severe poverty and endemic corruption to ever deepening inequality) characteristic of pre-war Romania, doubled by a dependence on foreign capital (Hitchins 1994: 368) that rendered the much-cherished independence of the country all but illusory in practical terms.
In response to the persistent issues related to ‘backwardness’, experienced simultaneously as a developmental lack and a temporal lag (Todorova 2005: 145) relative to an imagined ‘West’, the legionary movement drew on the extensive legacy of 19th century revolutionary nationalism to develop its own “palingenetic form of populist ultra-nationalism” (Griffin 1993: 26) that was simultaneously country-specific and well within the mainstream of European fascism. Legionary nationalism transcended ‘lack’ and ‘gap’ alike, positing a vision of horizontal cross-class solidarity (at the cost of the exclusion of the legionaries’ radical ‘Other’, the ‘Jew’) doubled by a temporally expanded (and ambiguous) notion of the ‘nation’, departing from the disappointing reality of interwar Romania to point to an impending bright future of legionary making while enlisting the support of a highly selective, quasi-archetypal ‘glorious past’ and its allegedly ‘national’ heroes (Cârstocea 2015; for an interesting discussion of time and historicity in relation to the dead, in the contexts of Argentina and Flemish nationalists, see Bevernage and Aerts 2009). In a mythical vision of the nation comprising, according to Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, founder and leader of the movement, “1) All the Romanians presently alive. 2) All the souls of the dead and the graves of the ancestors. 3) All those who will be born Romanians” (Codreanu 1936: 423), the dead ‘for the nation’ were given special consideration, manifested in ubiquitous commemorations of already consecrated past sacrifice and in funerals exploiting the contemporary ‘martyrdom’ of the (many) victims from among the movement’s own ranks, while constantly seeking to fuse the two. This aspect, I argue, struck a sensitive chord with many who had recently experienced personal loss of close ones in World War I, and rendered salient an emotional notion of ‘nationhood’ that resonated with the public more than the state’s modernising project, prompted by notions of accelerated development modelled on Western patterns that remained alien to a predominantly ‘peasant’ population (Roberts 1951).
Ultimately, it was this form of nationalism that proved to be persuasive insofar as it reflected people’s personal and local experiences (Cohen 1996: 810). Consequently, reading the legionary cult of the dead in light of its reception rather than performance, as it has been studied so far (e.g. Săndulescu 2007; Rusu 2016), goes a long way towards not only ‘normalising’ practices that may appear bizarre only when considered outside their Romanian context and of the elements of popular religiosity that infused them, but also towards explaining the remarkable increase in popularity of a political organisation that developed out of a fringe group of five students into the largest mass movement in Romania’s modern history and the third largest fascist movement in Europe (Payne 1995: 275-277). Viewed also in light of John Breuilly’s (1985) reading of nationalism as a form of opposition to the modern state, and of the use of nationalist appeals to mobilise popular support against the state, my paper will seek to show how an anti-establishment nationalist group skilfully enlisted the ‘nation’s’ dead in its project of violent opposition to its own nationalist and nationalising state.
Dr. Raul Cârstocea is Senior Research Associate in the Conflict & Security Research Cluster at the European Centre for Minority Issues, Flensburg, Germany. He holds a PhD in History from the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London (UCL), with a thesis that examined the role of anti-Semitism in the ideology of the ‘Legion of the Archangel Michael’, Romania’s interwar fascist movement. He has worked as Teaching Fellow at UCL and held a Research Fellowship at the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies. His research interests focus on Jewish history, anti-Semitism, and more broadly on the history of nationalism and nation-building processes in nineteenth and twentieth century Central and Eastern Europe.
Eiranen, Reetta, University of Tampere
Emotional and Social Ties in the Construction of Nationalism – a Group Biographical Approach to the Tengström Family in 19th-century Finland
In the development of Finnish cultural nationalism, a prominent academic Tengström family had a decisive role. Especially in the middle of the 19th century, Professor J. J. Tengström's family formed a close, ideologically aware and active group of women and men. Combining biographical and epistolary sources, this paper argues that the emotional and social ties intertwined tightly with the ideological commitment and activities. A group biographical approach ties together multiple life stories and focuses the analysis on the relations between the group members. This viewpoint reveals that the ideology was not only a noble and abstract project, but the motivations and meanings were connected with the personal feelings and relations. It is possible to ask how the membership of the group explains individual choices and actions. The analysis utilises the notion of relational and narrative self, which emphasises the construction of the self in social relations and roles and, in addition, enables analysing letter writing as a narrative process where the writers construct and interpret their experiences and emotions. In this paper, special attention is paid to how the writers relate to the nationalistic ideas. Marriages were essential for the formation of the emotionally and ideologically tight-knit family circle. Three Tengström sisters married men who were their brother's friends and, like him, actively involved in the nationalistic project as scholars, journalists and publishers. The marriages combined the influential academic and ideological family tradition with the new nationalistic generation and the rising estates the 19th century. For the young men, marrying into a prestigious family improved their social position and granted access to an influential network. In the marriages, the ideological commitment can be seen as a precondition for mutual attachment. The social backgrounds of all the parties implied interest towards the nationalistic project and, in some cases, ideological ideals were explicitly tied together with the couple's feelings for each other. The young men's sense of belonging in the family was further strengthened by constructing mutual emotional attachment with other family members as well, especially with the parents. Among themselves, the sons-in-law had their differences but they did not let it show outside. The family circle formed an inspiring and supporting social surrounding for nationalistic activities. Around the Tengströms formed a larger ideological group in which both women and men socialised together, the so called 'Kruununhaka Circle'. Tengström sisters were interested in the current cultural and social questions and had their own educational and charity activities. Also, the men's careers were a mutual effort of the spouses. The Tengström men strived to advance the Finnish nationalism and language through their scholarly work but their co-operation concretized especially in publications and in printing and publishing business. In the Tengström family, the ideological interest and commitment can be seen as a precondition for close emotional relationships, but importantly, these emotional and social bonds enabled and motivated concrete nationalistic activities.
Reetta Eiranen is a PhD Researcher in History at the University of Tampere, Finland. Her doctoral thesis analyses how the nationalistic project and emotional relationships intertwined and interacted in a key family of the 19th-century Finnish nationalism. Her research interests include nationalism, biographical research, history of experience and emotions, and gender history.
Faraldo, José M., Complutense University of Madrid
Reconstructing emotional bonds to alien territories. The nationalization of the Polish “Western Regions” (1944-1956)
In the paper, I explore Barbara Rosenwein’s idea of “emotional communities” -transforming it into a more dynamic notion through applying performative concepts, such as the one developed by William Reddy. As a case study, I approach the new population of the Polish “Western territories”. I consider new settlers’ way of coming along with their new lives on the Western territories to be part of a “emotional reconstruction”. But as such, it is not only a private, subjective reconstruction: it forms a part of a bigger social process, under the auspicious of a nationalizating state. Ideology, politics and cultural pressures join for transforming emotions into the acceptation of a new political (and national) situation.
After the Second World War, the Allies put around 103.000 km of German territories, a space bigger than Portugal, “under Polish administration” -in fact, a cover annexation-. The Potsdam Conference previewed also the complete expulsion of the former German population (eight million of persons). In contrast, millions of Polish people came to live on these new Polish territories. They found a situation of a complicated cultural and emotional dimension.
The so-called “Western Regions” were not a desolated area, with only some villages and pre-eminent agricultural relations, but very urbanized territories, partially very industrialized and with a distinct and plural cultural personality. The new inhabitants found an (almost) empty landscape but one that had a strange, alien, structure for them. They were obligated to live on landscapes that they identified with the “Germans”, the people who had occupied their country and provoked so much pain in their recent history. The new inhabitants had to adapt the material landscape to their necessities but to adapt themselves to it too. They needed to become accustomed to a physically unfamiliar territory that they were said to be now part of their nation. Constructing emotional links to these territories was a very difficult process, that the authorities wanted to achieve through nationalization.
Many of these people had a labile national identification with the new Polish state, because they came from Eastern Poland, a very ethnic mixed territory, with hybrid languages and plural cultures. It was necessary to construct common identities while reconstructing the space. The inevitability of integrating all these diverse populations into a whole society and the attempt of shaping emotional bonds towards the territory, was a multifaceted process, that implied a real and planned action on the population.
In the Western Regions, the nationalization of the inhabitants of a concrete territory is visible in an almost perfect, quasi chemically pure form, these territories constituting a social and cultural laboratory without comparison. What makes this case so special and exemplar is its voluntary nature and its planning, that is, the fact that in the former German territories was accomplished a deliberated and planned politic of national adaptation of a territory (even a physic one) and as a national homogenization process of the population which had to live in it. In which way, this was made through the reconstruction of emotions, it is one of the main question of the paper.
At basic sources, I use many of the as much as 800 diaries and memoirs preserved at the Archive of the Western Institute (Institut Zachodni), in Poznań, (Poland) as well as documents of the Polish national and regional archives.
José M. Faraldo, Profesor Contratado Doctor (assistant professor, tenured) at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. He got his Ph. Diss in history at the same university with a work on Russian nationalism. After further studies in history and cultural studies in Moscow, Frankfurt/Oder and Poznań he worked from 1997 to 2002, at the European University Viadrina, in Frankfurt/Oder (Germany). From 2004 to 2008 he was research fellow and project coordinator at the Center of Research on Contemporary History, (ZZF), in Potsdam (Germany). Recent publications: Reconsidering a Lost Intellectual Project. Exiles’ Reflections on Cultural Differences, CSP 2012 [with Carolina Rodríguez-López (eds.)]; Europe, Nation, Communism. Essays on Poland, New York, Frankfurt 2008; Europe in the Eastern Bloc. Imaginations and Discourses, Vienna/Cologne 2008 [with Paulina Gulińska-Jurgiel and Christian Domnitz (Eds.)].
Förster, Birte, TU Darmstadt
Safeguarding the National Sentiment. Female Right-Wing Politicians and Activists During the Weimar Republic
The introduction of universal suffrage posed a serious problem to German right-wing politicians in 1919. Advocating a gender hierarchy that situated women in the private sphere they still had to win women’s votes especially since women represented the majority of the electorate. Female right-wing politicians and activists faced an even more difficult bias: How to advocate publicly that the public sphere was not a woman’s place to be? ‘The Nation’ had long been the reference framework activists used to justify their actions. But in the aftermath of World War I this rhetorical figure was fuelled by the argument that the nation was sold down the river by male republican politicians. It was therefore a nationalist woman’s duty to vote in order to safeguard the national identity. Women according to this rhetoric were the only gender able to look after the nation’s emotional well-being – as activists, mothers, and wives.
I would like to explore the workshop’s overall questions in three steps, using the Queen Louise Association (1923-1934), sister organisation of the Stahlhelmbund, as an example. The first part of my talk will focus on how its members referred to nationalist ideas in order to construct their own sense of self. Drawing on Heinsohn’s enhancement of Francis’s gedachte Ordnungen I shall look into the Association’s self-images as the nation’s safekeeper as well as its construction of the presence and the past. How are notions of loyalty, sacrifice, national honour but also female leadership constructed?
Secondly, I shall address how the Queen Louise Association gave its public actions personal meaning, how women linked their membership to their emotional experiences but also created these experiences by being part of a group. The Association’s local and national rituals, the annual celebration of Queen Louise’s birthday and the depiction of its patroness Princess Cecily of Prussia provide insights into the ways in which national and emotional cohesion was triggered.
By closely examining a journey to Italy that several leading members undertook in May and June 1930 I shall thirdly discuss how encountering members of the Fasci Femminili and Mussolini emotionally affected the right wing activists and thus reshaped their gedachte Ordnung. Charlotte von Hadeln, who later became national leader of the Association and presided over its Gleichschaltung under National Socialism, claimed that she witnessed a strong and unifying Nationalgeist in Italy and was passionately hoping for a similar development in Germany.
Dr. Birte Förster teaches Modern and Contemporary History at Darmstadt University of Technology. Her first monograph, „Der Königin Luise-Mythos“ analysed the intersection of gender and nation between 1860 and 1960. She is currently working on her second book project on large-scale infrastructure projects in sub-Saharan Africa, 1920-1970, examining their impact on decolonisation processes and power relations.
Hoegaerts, Josephine, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies
Learning to Love. Embodied Practices of Patriotism in the Nineteenth-Century Classroom (and Beyond)
In Are Emotions a Kind of Practice? Monique Scheer suggested that ‘the body is not a static, timeless, universal foundation that produces ahistorical emotional arousal, but is itself socially situated, adaptive, trained, plastic, and thus historical’. This paper takes up Scheer’s suggestion for the particularly plastic, growing bodies of primary school children, and for the arousal of the particular emotion of love for the fatherland through education. Focusing on ‘learning’ to feel and articulate these emotions, the paper aims to analyze the practices of the different parties involved in the emotional management of young patriots-in-the-making: their educators as well as the children themselves. How, this paper asks, were children expected to acquire the vocabularies and practices connected to patriotism, and how did they incorporate what they were taught into their own discourses and movements? The latter question poses the obvious problem of lack of sources: children’s voices are notoriously absent from most (school)archives. However, some of the ways in which children mobilized educational discourses in contexts beyond the classroom have been preserved.
In order to consider both the normative vocabularies of (love for) the fatherland proffered to children by educators and the practices arising from these normative discourses, through processes of negotiation between variously positioned adults and children, the paper draws on a variety of sources relating to geography teaching in the nineteenth century primary school. Using the primary schools of the city of Antwerp (Belgium) as a case study, I am compiling a dataset consisting of handbooks for geography, teacher education and correspondence concerning geography and knowledge of the fatherland and, most importantly perhaps, documents pertaining to the organization and content of school excursions, including reports of these trips written by pupils. The reports deal with elaborate trips (often spanning several days) explicitly designed to confront children physically with the ‘nation’ and to teach them to develop particular emotions of affection and care for the fatherland. Even though pupils’ reports, too, bear the hallmarks of educational normativity, they show some level of agency on the part of their young authors, especially in the way in which they connected individual corporeal experiences and practices (such as seeing, walking, eating and singing) with the more collective and abstract notions of the nation and patriotism.
What I will argue in this paper is not only that the process of children ‘learning’ to feel love for the fatherland can be documented and analyzed beyond official educational discourses, but also that such an analysis necessarily has to be an intersectional one. Even if the (normative) vocabulary of patriotism was widely shared in the nineteenth century, mobilizing it in discursive and corporeal practices was heavily influenced by individuals’ age, gender and physical ability, and was always a matter of negotiation – and sometimes even conflict.
Josephine Hoegaerts is a Core Research Fellow at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, and the author of Masculinity and Nationhood, 1830-1910. In her current research, she studies articulations of the self through vocal practices. Recent publications include “Speaking Like Intelligent Men: Vocal Articulations of Authority and Identity in the House of Commons in the Nineteenth Century”, in: Radical History Review, 121, (2015) and (with dr. Goedele Declerck), Intercession, Emancipation and a Space In Between: Silence as a Mode of Deaf Citizenship in the Nineteenth Century and Today, in: DiGeSt, 3, 2 (2016).
Karch, Brendan, Louisiana State University
The Instrumental Nation: German and Polish Loyalties in Upper Silesia
Recent historiography on modern Central Europe has discovered a new historical agent that abstained from the nationalization of peoples necessary to create ethnically homogeneous nation states. These people, often from mixed language regions of the Habsburg Empire, have been labeled the ‘nationally indifferent.’ My historical research, which focuses on modern Upper Silesia – a contested German-Polish borderland – is both an extension and a challenge to this relatively new frame of national indifference. A clear majority of Upper Silesians, from the mid- 19th to the mid-20th century, resisted the call of activists to define themselves in singular terms as Germans or Poles. In an era of increasingly radical and violent ethnic nationalism in Central Europe, the options for this ‘personal non-nationalism’ narrowed – but did not entirely disappear. Upper Silesians crafted an often chameleon-like, instrumentally-minded national ambiguity that allowed them to pass as loyal Poles and as loyal Germans.
As I argue, the social processes that drove Upper Silesians are not best explained by the framework of ‘national indifference.’ The term is at once too vague and too limiting. It serves as an umbrella under which quite disparate practices and attitudes can be gathered. It also is essentially a reactive and static category, and suggests indifference to the often dire consequences of national belonging. While I embrace much of the ‘personal’ turn in nationalist theory by restoring agency to individuals in the process of becoming (a)national, my conclusions diverge from much of the recent literature in two key ways. First, my work, in moving past “national indifference” as a category, also moves from conceptions of ‘identity’ to ‘loyalty.’ I argue that identity diverts our attention towards a static outcome, and suggests semi-permanence. Loyalties, in contrast, are fundamentally interactive: they force our attention on the activists seeking them and the subjects who accept or reject them. They are also more contingent, subject to change, and can be more easily understood as multiples. Discussing loyalties over identities thus refocuses our attention on the original social construction of ‘becoming national.’
Second, I remain skeptical of the ‘affective’ turn for my case. My work deals explicitly with the interaction between increasingly radical activists who sought to impose singular national loyalties using illiberal means, and local citizens who resisted such demands. I argue that these locals maintained an instrumentally rational (zweckrational) view towards the nation, in contrast to the value rational (wertrational) embrace of the nation by German and Polish activists. These concepts, taken from Weber, lay out a stark contrast: whereas activists embraced national ends nearly regardless of the means, many local Upper Silesians weighed national loyalty against the personal consequences of belonging, and against other ends: to church, family, locality, or region. While these types of social action are obviously ‘ideal types,’ they more accurately describe my subjects’ loyalties than any ‘affective’ or ‘traditional’ modes of action. Upper Silesians have long been accused by nationalists of atavism or emotional immaturity for their refusal to Germanize or Polonize, as if ‘becoming national’ were the only rational outcome. This work rejects those pejoratives by depicting national ambiguity as an equally rational personal choice (in some cases more rational) than full-on embrace of a nation.
Brendan Karch is an Assistant Professor of Modern European History at Louisiana State University, USA. He received his PhD in 2010 from Harvard University. His first book, The Instrumental Nation (forthcoming, Cambridge UP), explores resistance to nationalization among Upper Silesians in a German-Polish borderland from 1848-1960. His research was co-awarded the 2011 Fritz Stern Prize for best dissertation in German history in the US.
Kivimäki, Ville, University of Tampere
“The Fatherland did not drink the blood / of our fathers and brothers in vain”. Finnish Frontline Soldiers’ Lyrical Attachments to the Nation in World War II
In modern wars of the twentieth century, frontline soldiers formed a very distinctive group of citizens in a nation-state. In nationalist rhetoric and imagination, the young men at the front were seen as in imminent contact with their national community; as the “chosen delegates” presenting the nation in its existential struggle. Their sacrifices were placed at the center of collective attention. In contrast to this elevated setting, historical research on both world wars has underlined the experiences of disillusionment and ugly realism in the actual frontline communities – and often rightly so. It has seemed more plausible to explain the soldiers’ combat motivation with primary group loyalties, hierarchical obedience, situational factors, and outright coercion than with deeply felt patriotism.
Yet when looking closely at the frontline soldiers’ experiences, the national attachments and motivations were crucial too, although one should not fall to naïvely patriotic explanations. In my paper, I will discuss this issue in the context of Finnish soldiers’ war experiences in World War II. More precisely, I am studying a collection of ca. 850 unpublished frontline poems gathered by the Information Department of the Finnish Army High Command from 1942 onwards. The collection has its obvious limitations; most importantly the fact that it served the army’s propaganda purposes. But as I see it, the poems offer a rare insight into the reciprocal interaction between the “official” wartime nationalistic rhetoric and the idealized sentiments of war among the frontline soldiers themselves. No one forced the soldiers to put a pen to paper, and so I think it is useful to read the poems as a response to the national “invitation” to martial masculinity and sacrificial role, demonstrating that this call had been answered.
By its very nature, lyrical poetry provided a way to express those sentiments which would have seemed patently banal, pompous, and out-of-place in other contexts. The poems are plentiful and surprisingly uniform in their basic nature. This sameness reveals a strongly shared cultural and ideological ethos, not an idiosyncratic scribbling of a few odd poets. Taken in sum, the poems express the war effort as a personally and nationally meaningful endeavor for their writers. A further distinctive feature of the poems is how they “nationalize” such individual attachment relations as ties of family or friendship. A concrete mother–son relation is raised to an abstract relation between the soldier and “Mother Finland”, a dead comrade comes to represent all the fallen “brothers”, and so on. The soldiers themselves are not merely individual beings, but “avatars” of quintessential “Finnish men” with their mythic qualities; they line up with the timeless national continuum of men from the ancient times to the future. Thus, the poems tend to see concrete human relations as mirroring their nationally defined ideals. This conjunction illustrates the experience of the abstract nation as an emotionally supportive entity, and it constructs a rhetoric device to describe the intensity of emotions – one feels for the nation as if it was one’s mother. But it also tells of a need to imbue the actual war experience with lasting, transcendent meanings and to find comfort in them in the face of brutal personal losses.
I’m a social and cultural historian of World War II and its aftermath. My postdoctoral project at the University of Tampere is titled “Trauma before Trauma: Finnish War Veterans and the Posttraumatic Stress, 1945–1955”. In my PhD thesis Battled Nerves (2013), I studied Finnish soldiers’ war experiences, trauma, and military psychiatry in 1941–44. Together with Prof. Tiina Kinnunen, I have co-edited a comprehensive anthology Finland in World War II: History, Memory, Interpretations (Brill: Leiden, 2012).
Marzec, Wiktor, Central European University
Performing and remembering nationalist worker's biography in late Russian Poland
This paper examines nationalist commitment of industrial workers in Russian Poland at the turn of 19th and 20th century with a special focus on 1905 Revolution. The revolution brought about massive political participation of urban workers. While initially it was fractured socialist movement which gained the largest support, National Workers Association, then siding unanimously with virulently nationalistic National Democracy party, was also capable to stir mass mobilization and gathered thousands of members.
The forging of such national unity, however, was difficult to engender among the workers owing to unique historical circumstances compromising the old national idea among popular classes, the experience of exploitation, long-standing socialist agitation and the effective socialist militancy against the foreign state, thus seizing national emotion as well. Hence, nationalist agitation had to employ careful rhetorical strategies aimed at gradual sowing of doubt and convincing some of the mobilized workers to the nationalist project.
Against such a backdrop I ask about the lived and performed nationalist identities of workers, members of the NZR. They had to justify their commitments against the plural, highly antagonistic setting of mobilized labor, find arguments convincing also for themselves to back up practices going against the tide, as strike braking of “fratricidal” struggles between party militants. The former NZR members formed a distinct memory culture. Their biographies are authorized recollections of the movement and they are clearly uttered as a reclaiming polemics against the dominant memory. It was not because Polish nationalism was weak (quite the contrary) but because the NZR separated from its main current. Thus, NZR memory was orphaned and the association attempted to claim legitimacy among the insurrectionist tradition of the Polish workers. Autobiographical writers used multiple strategies to reclaim the legitimacy of their commitment, justify their decisions in dialogue with the printed agitation of their former party and reaffirm or justify its dubious political practices, as fanning antisemitism.
The biographical work used to negotiate their variable identities and uneasy position within the broader political context offers insight into working class popular nationalism. It was often justified by vernacular primordialism of sorts and elements of reconstructed family tradition harboring national sentiments. Thus, I ask how Polish workers became national and constructed their sense of working class, nationalist self; how they negotiated conflicted and volatile political identities, and recalled conversion of themselves and their colleagues. The historical context offers a great opportunity to see such choices as far from natural. The argument is informed by analysis of biographical testimonies written by proletarian militants from various political parties in different political circumstances. The corpus of ca. 110 narratives of different size (around 20 of them by NZR members or affiliates) allows for a broader, typological analysis across boundaries of political milieus and respective memory cultures, with special focus on nationalists.
Wiktor Marzec – sociologist and philosopher, practicing as historian. His research interests concern intellectual emancipation, political mobilization, ideological languages and conceptual innovation in early 20th century Russian Poland, constituting the emergence of the political modernity. His recent publications include articles in “Thesis Eleven”, “Journal of Historical Sociology” and “Eastern European Politics and Societies”. He is the author of Rebellion and Reaction. The 1905 Revolution and Plebeian Political Experience in Russian Poland (in Polish, with Lodz University Press and Universitas). Social science editor in the journal “Praktyka Teoretyczna / Theoretical Practice”. Currently he is pursuing a doctoral degree in sociology in Department of Sociology and Anthropology in the Central European University, Budapest (defence scheduled for June 2017). The dissertation concerns workers and the political in late Russian Poland.
Moreno Almendral, Raúl, University of Salamanca
Love & pride; shame & contempt: emotions and national characters in British ego-documents from the Age of Revolutions
This paper revisits the early stages of British nation-building through a corpus of autobiographies, memoires, diaries, journals and travel books written from 1780s to 1830s. Stemming from the agency and cognitive turns in Nations and Nationalism Studies and drawing on ideas such as “personal nationalism” and “national experiences”, a corpus of almost fifty narratives from different backgrounds and areas of the British territories is processed according to some tools provided by literary theory and conceptual history. The goal is using their personal narratives to undercover and analyse how individuals employ national language to frame reality.
Here two remarks must always be taken into account. First, individuals tend to imagine their existence and identity in terms of continuity, but there is no such a thing as a stable and essential self. Narratives are the necessary tool to crystallise personal experiences into identity, but no narrative is the written and perfectly outspoken projection of a particular life. Memory processes and crafting conditions, including emotions and expectations, shape a product which is always an incomplete one-off picture, not a sort of archaeological site. Second, personal narratives tend to emphasize diversity and contention, both in the presence of national languages (in some cases, terms such as ‘nation’ or ‘national’ do not even come out) and in claiming certain meanings for those categories. Thus, they allow us a different approach to the questions “Who is national?” and “What does it mean to be national?” However, self-narratives do not completely resolve the challenge of interpreting the realm of ‘the unspoken’.
Applying all of this to the Age of Revolution introduces more points of interest, since the ‘personal approach’ can be combined with the classic ‘modern/premodern debate’. This period is usually identified as the formative period of modern nationalism, but is also of intense transnational contacts. British ego-documents reveal a pervasive assumption of the existing 18th-19th century debates about the existence of national characters and the connection between cultural singularity, moral superiority and political institutions. The role of national categories when accounting for the composite structure of the United Kingdom is also addressed, both through English and Scottish, Welsh and Irish narratives.
When these individuals talk about their lives using nationalised thought and ideas, emotions play an important role in linking external stimuli with internal reaction. Thus, most of the times when the nation appears, the statement is shot through with at least one of these feelings: love, for the country, for the people or even for the land; pride in being part of such a superior and fine community; shame, when this nation or one of its members do not meet the expectations, be it in material or in moral terms; and finally contempt, especially towards other inferior groups that function as specular and reinforcing devices for the author’s national imaginary. Based on this evidence, I will focus on the inherent relation between emotions and personal approaches to nationhood, in order to explore possible common trends with other cases and times.
Raúl Moreno Almendral is a Modern History PhD Candidate at the University of Salamanca, where he develops a comparative thesis about nationhood in British, French, Spanish and Portuguese personal narratives from the Age of Revolutions. In 2016 he was a Visiting Research Student at the Department of Government of the London School of Economics. From April to June 2017 he will spend another predoctoral stay at L’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, in Paris.
More about the author in https://usal.academia.edu/RaulMorenoAlmendral
Niedhammer, Martina, Collegium Carolinum: Research Institute for the History of the Czech Lands and Slovakia
“Lou tresor dóu Felibrige”: An Occitan Dictionary and its Emotional Potential for the Readers
« J’étais trop français et pas assez provençal. Je vous remercie de la conversion salutaire que vous avez operée [sic] en moi […] » It was Antoine Féraud, most likely a priest from Grasse, who wrote these lines to Frédéric Mistral (1830–1914) in December 1880. Deeply impressed by a visit he had payed to the famous Provençal (Occitan) poet and language activist, Féraud was now eager to gain further knowledge of modern Occitan literature as it was promoted by a growing circle of language enthusiasts called “Felibrige” since the 1850s.
Féraud’s letter to Mistral does not clarify whether his author regarded the “revival” of Occitan language and culture in Southern France as part of a national or a regionalist project. Yet, Occitan culture did mark a sharp contrast to French identity and was thus perceived highly emotional. This view is typical for the supporters of “Felibrige”, although – or even because – the movement was only partially successful: Until now, Occitan language as the key element of Occitan nationhood lacks an orthographical standard. Moreover, it is officially recognized only in Spain, whereas the linguistic situation in France is quite alarming.
My proposed paper refers to the question on national emotions and their visualisation raised in the cfp: It tries to detect emotions connected with nationalism by analysing personal letters to Frédéric Mistral on the occasion of the first edition of his famous Occitan dictionary “Lou tresor dóu Felibrige”. Mistral’s literary estate is housed in his former domicile in Maillane (Provence) and contains dozens of boxes filled with letters from all over Europe. Several files are reserved for correspondence associated with his “tresor” which Mistral compiled from the late 1860ies until 1886. The letters that admirers and opponents of his idea of an Occitan “renaissance” wrote to him allow a glimpse into their emotional perception of the Occitan language and its national connotation among their private value system.
This becomes visible when one looks at the vocabulary and structure of the letters to Mistral: What language – French or Occitan – did the correspondents choose and when did they switch? Moreover, Mistral’s correspondents implicitly attributed certain characteristics to Occitan: The old Romance language in modern Provençal form was able to give comfort, to encourage personal ambition, to evoke grandeur etc. Last but not least, some of them described a shift of emotional belonging as it was the case with the above mentioned Féraud. What was the motivation behind these “conversions”?
My case study is based on a broader postdoctoral project which examines the process of language planning in minor linguistic and/or ethnic societies from a historical point of view; it takes a closer look at Occitan, Yiddish, and Belarusian during the second half of the 19th and the early 20th century. Therefore, it offers various opportunities for transregional comparisons that may not be obvious at first glance.
Martina Niedhammer studied Slavonic languages and history in Munich, St. Petersburg, and Prague. Her first book “’Nur eine Geld-Emancipation’? Loyalitäten und Lebenswelten des Prager jüdischen Großbürgertums 1800–1867” was awarded the Max Weber-Preis by the Bavarian Academy of Sciences in 2013. Since 2011, she is a research associate at Collegium Carolinum: Research Institute for the History of the Czech Lands and Slovakia in Munich. Currently, she is working on her postdoctoral research project “The making of a mother tongue: Occitan, Yiddish and Belarusian in the context of regionalist enthusiasm, philological discourse, and national agitation” (advisor: Martin Schulze Wessel).
Oddens, Joris, Leiden University
Applying to the Nation. Statements of loyalty in petitions for jobs to national institutions in the Netherlands, c. 1795-1815
Between 1795 and 1815, the Dutch national state emerged from an age of revolution with multiple regime changes. These regime changes often involved purges of government personnel and restructuring of the civil service, resulting in (the expectation of) many job vacancies in the public sector. After each regime change, great numbers of citizens sent in petitions for jobs. Many thousands of these petitions survive in the archives; the petitioners come from all strata of society and have usually written the petitions themselves. In my contribution to the workshop, I will assess the possibilities and limitations of this source type for the study of the emotional experience of nationhood. Petitions can be considered as ego-documents, but they are at the same time a serial source type, making it possible to look for patterns in the individual expression of emotions.1 Recurring elements in the petitions are statements of identification with the new regime, which include detailed narratives that serve to testify of a longstanding loyalty to the faction or the nation the new political establishment claimed to represent. Such narratives are often highly emotional in tone and make mention of the sacrifices made and the hardships suffered in the name of the fatherland or the monarchy.
The petitions for jobs were presented to all levels of government, but the applicants’ principal targets were new national institutions such as the National Assembly and the Executive Body of the Batavian Republic (1796-98) and the kings Louis Napoleon (1806-10) and William I (1813-1815). Though not entirely without precedent – In the Dutch Republic citizens had also petitioned for jobs in, for instance, the household of the stadtholder or the administrative office of the States-General – the transition to a unitary state and an increasing bureaucratization transferred formal power of appointment for vacancies in subnational contexts to the national level, creating a new situation for job seekers: they were triggered to convey emotional attachment to national institutions in order to obtain public sector jobs at the local level.
It is clear that the relationship of patronage between job applicants and authorities had implications for the sincerity of their professions of loyalty, as contemporaries already understood.2 Also, the petition was an epistolary genre with a long history and therefore governed by conventions, of which most petitioners, even if they were less experienced writers, seem to have been well aware.3 In my contribution I will address these considerations by comparing samples of petitions to various national institutions from the period 1795-1815, which will make up my main source corpus, to a small number of petitions for jobs from the time of the Dutch Republic. My overarching question will be whether the shift to the national involved fundamental changes in the nature of emotional professions of loyalty – did they become, for example, more profound or less partisan? – or whether they essentially continued to follow existing scripts, merely replacing one target of identification for another.
Joris Oddens is a postdoctoral researcher at the Leiden University Institute for History. He has published widely on the political and emotional culture of the Netherlands around 1800. His dissertation (2012, D.J. Veegens Prize 2016) was concerned with the Dutch legislative assemblies during the age of revolution. In his current project he focuses on petitions as a means to study the negotiation of local and national identities in the Netherlands between 1750 and 1850.
Salivon, Oleksiy, University of Stuttgart
Body experiences of Jewish Soldiers in the German and Austrian Empire and in Russia, 1815-1918
In my paper, I will present some images of the Jewish masculinity in the military as it is presented in the Russian and German language sources in the early 20th century. I will compare some main characters, both fictional and real as they appear in the newspapers, literature and personal accounts. It will help to evaluate the challenges to the Jewish males’ bodies posed by the European societies of this epoch, to understand the perception of the Jewish masculinity by both Jews and their non-Jewish counterparts and Jewish perception of the Great War.
A common denominator for the understanding of a secular Jewish masculinity in the second part of 19th and early 20th century, which applies to both Austrian-Hungary and Russian Empire, one might find in the idea of the Muscular Judaism or “Muskeljudentum” by Dr. Max Nordau (29.07.1849, Pest – 22.01.1923, Paris). An article explaining this conception was published in the Jüdische Turnzeitung in 1900. As a motto for the whole notion, one might take the appeal made by Nordau at one of the Baseler Congresses “Wir müssen trachten, wieder ein Muskeltum zu schaffen.
To become again the masters of their own destiny, Jewish people have to retake control over their own physical bodies. The Great War became an ultimate challenge to such ideas and its commemoration made an enormous impact on the Jewish communities in both great Empires.
Oleksiy Salivon is a PhD Student at the University of Stuttgart, Faculty of History and Philosophy (Germany)/research project “Body experiences of Jewish Soldiers in the German and Austrian Empire and in Russia, 1815-1918”.
Taichrib, Vitali, Freie Universität Berlin
Silencing the Bells. The impact of sensory and emotional experiences in shaping Soviet identity
Human emotions on an individual scale are best explored through the senses. Aiming at a fully-fledged understanding of the personal and emotional experience of nationhood in the past, the sensory history perspective is vital and thus, the basic framework for my paper.
The focal point of this paper is the onset of early Soviet identity-shaping processes in Russian rural regions between 1914/17 and 1941. The core issue here is the question: how did people become national and supranational (Soviet) at almost the same time? In what kind of occasions did they draw on either nationhood or “Soviet-hood” (or simultaneously on both?) to construct their own self? Ordinary people inhabiting those regions at the beginning of the 20th century constructed their own sense of self more often than not mainly via local identity marker. The time of revolution and war brought about radical socio-political, economic and cultural changes, piercing through “Lebenswelt” and everyday life, forcing people to adapt to these new conditions. The destruction or “reframing” of local identity marker in the 1920s and 1930s - such as church bells - altered soundscapes, ‘smellscapes’ etc., influenced the individual emotional experiences, and eventually opened up and demanded a partial identity-reconfiguration. Nationhood respectively “Soviet-hood” became available and accessible focal points of identity-construction.
In order to illustrate this complex linkage, special attention will be given to the dekulakization campaigns in the late 1920s and early 1930s and to the famine 1932/33. Within a few years the inhabitants of many rural regions witnessed the creation of an extraordinary situation, a permanent exceptional state, admittedly resembling the setting of the early 1920s, yet unique in scope. The strongly felt sense of belonging to a distinct region or village was challenged or even shattered in a many-faceted fashion. The following example reifies this idea: the destruction of the church bells, the deportation or execution of the bell ringer (zvonar’) not only had an impact on the regulatory functionality of the bells in everyday life. It was also the loss of a major local identity marker thus, creating a different, unfamiliar, and even alien sensory as well as emotional experience. The personal sense of belonging needed to be reconfigured, which enabled early Soviet identity-shaping processes to gain momentum.
The sensory history perspective allows a promising take on generating evidence of emotions connected to nationhood with a variety of sources and will be demonstrated throughout the paper. The focus of this paper lies with ego-documents, autobiographical accounts and transcribed oral history interviews.
The Soviet case provides a rare possibility to study the early stages of how people could invest a social category (available in public life) with personal meaning. The timeframe is narrow and precisely determinable; the source material is multilayered and diverse. New evidence can be generated and gathered with the sensory history approach and the tools it has to offer. These ties can be a highly informative addition to the discourses revolving around the personal and emotional dimension of nationhood.
I studied History and Slavic Studies at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg i. Br. and East European Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin. Currently, I am a PhD candidate (Dissertation Project: The Decade of Changing Perception in Rural Russia, 1914-1924. A study on the effects of war, revolution, and hunger on sensory perception and identity-shaping processes) and work as a research and teaching assistant/associate (Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter) for the History Department at the Institute for East European Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin.