Nationalizing Cities? Industrial Cities in Multi-Ethnic Central and Eastern European Regions and Their Impact on the Emergence of National Conflicts

Nationalizing Cities? Industrial Cities in Multi-Ethnic Central and Eastern European Regions and Their Impact on the Emergence of National Conflicts

European Association for Urban History (University of Ostrava)
University of Ostrava
Czech Republic
Findet statt
In Präsenz
Vom - Bis
04.09.2024 - 07.09.2024
Heidi Hein-Kircher, Wissenschaftsforum, Herder-Institut für historische Ostmitteleuropaforschung - Institut der Leibniz-Gemeinschaft

CfP for S 13 at the EAUH Conference 2024 in Ostrava: The panel disusses the entanglements between nationalization, language policies and the emergence of inner-city conflicts during industrialization in Central and Eastern European industrial cities situated in border regions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Because of the lack of urban traditions, they became particular arenas, in which a nationalized modernity was negotiated in a distinct way.

Nationalizing Cities? Industrial Cities in Multi-Ethnic Central and Eastern European Regions and Their Impact on the Emergence of National Conflicts

Since political and socio-economic borders ran grosso modo congruent with national ones in Central and Eastern European borderland cities, one particular national group could achieve and consolidate dominance in a city – but each city had another ethnic composition. In contrast to ‚traditional‘ cities with established urban institutions and long-established social and political elites, industrial cities in the multi-ethnic borderlands of European Empires (like Daugavpils, Łódź, Donetsk (Jusovka) and Tampere in Russian Empire and like Zlín, Drohobycz and Salgótarján in Habsburg Empire) often grew up from rural hinterlands and consisted of multi-ethnic migrant groups without major urban traditions. Unlike the Western European industrial cities, the people moving in came more or less from the immediate surroundings or from the same province. They consisted of in most cases of Jewish and of former peasant and socially subaltern groups which belonged to non-dominant ethnic groups. The industrial cities formed multi-ethnic immigrant societies without major urban traditions in which new urban political and social elites emerged.

Although industrial cities like Plžen, Dnepro (Jekatarinoslav) and Łódź gained economic importance, they never got acceptance as mayor political players within the provinces, because of the seemingly „dangerous“ working class populations. Therefore, they were specific spaces for negotiating national and social issues. One particular aspect was the language issue, which was important for identity formation.

The session is devoted to pecularities of industrial cities in Eastern Europe. It wants to focus the interactions between nationalization and language policy programs and measures and the emergence of inner- city conflicts during the phase of dynamic industrialization and urbanization in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It sees local language policy and practice as a hinge for the relationship between the various ethno-confessional groups. The session wants to focus on the connection between nationalization and the language question and the formation of a respective industrial city society. The papers are expected to discuss to what extent industrial cities formed distinct arenas for the emergence and the settlement of conflicts. Therefore, the session‘s presentations will address as questions:

- What issues were negotiated there in contrast to those in more traditional cities?
- Does nationality play a prominent role, or do the social question and problems of public health rather dominate the discourses?
- What role does the respective language play in the processes?
- Can specific patterns of argumentation, somewhat securitizing themes, be found for industrial cities?
- Do topics such as environmental protection and/or health protection play a distinct role in these discourses?
- What role do women play in this?
- Can gender-specific sub-themes be identified?

Papers are especially desired that deal with multi-ethnic and multiconfessional industrial cities developing in East(-Central)-European border and cross-border regions, which are still under-researched in comparison to those in Western and Central Europe.

Organizers of the specialist session:
PD Dr. Heidi Hein-Kircher, Marburg/Germany; Dr. Jaroslav Ira, Prag/Czech Republik; Prof. Dr. Hans-Jürgen Bömelburg, Gießen/Germany


PD Dr. Heidi Hein-Kircher:;