The towns on the territory of the Polish-Lithuanian Rzeczpospolita experienced new waves of immigration from different parts of Europe in the 18th and early 19th centuries. The newcomers were confronted with a traditionally multilingual and multiconfessional environment in towns such as Gdańsk, Toruń, Poznań, Vilnius, L’viv, Cracow or Warsaw. At the same time, their arrival contributed to a further differentiation into distinct communities, with language and religion playing an essential role. At the same time, in the 18th and early 19th centuries, a tendency towards legal standardization and thus the dissolution of the early modern coexistence of different groups can be observed, which in turn had an impact on further immigration.
The conference will focus on the period between circa 1750 and 1830. In the decades between the Polish-Saxon Union and the November Uprising against the partitioning powers, numerous important cesura in the political history of Poland can be observed. The reform policy under the last Polish king Stanisław August Poniatowski (1764–1795), as well as the reorganization of legal conditions after the partitions (1772, 1793, 1795), in the Duchy of Warsaw (1806–1812), and finally under renewed partition rule after 1815, have undoubtedly affected continually the coexistence of the multiethnic, multiconfessional, and polylingual population of Polish towns. The same is certainly true of the military conflicts that affected the towns, starting with the Confederation of Bar (1768–1772), through the Kościuszko Uprising (1794) and the Greater Polish Uprising (1806), to the Napoleonic Wars fought on Polish soil (1806/7, 1809, 1812/13). Research on the history of the German-speaking and Jewish populations in Poland, for example, has shown that the dividing lines in the political conflicts did not necessarily coincide with those between groups of different origin, language and religion.
The rather long period of more than eight decades makes it possible to ask, beyond the political cesura, for the long-term shape of migrant communication spaces in the Polish surrounding. The conference therefore wants to focus on the familiarity of everyday encounters. The focus will be on those contacts that led to recurrent interaction and, where appropriate, to mutual transfer and assimilation processes. It is essential here that the contacts examined can be of a friendly, neutral, or hostile nature. For example, because people traded with each other, moved in similar social circles and shared cultural inclinations, pursued common corporate interests or political goals, or because they clashed as economic competitors, as occupiers and occupied, or as administrators and administrated.
The aim of the conference is therefore to trace the narrative of exchange and transfer relationships between the immigrant and native populations at specific times in specific places. This should ultimately make it possible, in synopsis, to pursue the question of the extent to which everyday interactions between natives and immigrants changed both within certain groups and beyond their frameworks in the course of the great political and cultural upheavals around 1800. In this framework, papers on individuals as well as on groups are of interest.
Possible questions could be:
In which specific places did natives and migrants meet? Examples could be: cantor, market, guild/fraternity meeting, town hall, aristocratic ball, economic contacts, office, etc.).
- What types of encounters can be observed? Examples could be: business, weddings, administrative acts, etc.
- What gender-specific aspects influenced social interaction?
- What was the importance of denomination and religion?
- What role did migrants play, for example, as representatives of the partitioning powers or as experts?
- How did printed media and their creators influence opinion-forming and communication in the cities?
The Commission for the History of the Germans in Poland will cover the travel expenses of the speakers for the travel by train (2nd class) as well as the costs for accommodation and meals in Marburg.
Please send a short abstract of no more than 250 words in German, Polish or English by April 1, 2023 to dr Markus Nesselrodt (firstname.lastname@example.org). We will get back to you by May 1, 2023.