Transfers and Demarcations - Graduate Conference on European History (GRACEH)

Transfers and Demarcations - Graduate Conference on European History (GRACEH)

European University Institute (EUI), Florence; in cooperation with the Central European University (CEU), Budapest; The University of Vienna (Universität Wien, Historisch-kulturwissenschaftliche Fakultät)
European University Institute, Florence, Italy
Vom - Bis
28.04.2011 - 30.04.2011
Hanne Osthus

The increasing attention to transfer studies as an alternative historiographical approach reflects one of the most fundamental recent changes in the discipline: the shift of attention from structures to processes. Transfer studies investigate societies and cultures from the perspective of dynamics, flows and movement, focusing on phenomena ranging from travels and migration to a large variety of transferred material and symbolic goods, including literature and art, technology and skills, ideas and concepts. Seen from this angle, interaction and circulation across ethnographic and linguistic, cultural and social as well as state and civilization borders become a precondition for historical processes – and historical development itself. The 5th Graduate Conference in European History will be dedicated to this approach, particularly in view of a decisive element in all transfer processes: the moment of demarcation.

A primary interest is how we can methodologically and empirically benefit from the attention to disintegration, alienation and disentanglement during or after transfer processes. Is the transfer approach with its tendency to stress commonalities and shared features incompatible with an increased sensitivity to what marks unsuccessful, rejected or sabotaged transfers? Does the methodological framework on which the approach is built lead to an idea of history as predominantly a sequence of flows and movements or does it equally help to discover ruptures and boundaries? Should the definition of transfer be widened to a definition that stresses transfers as open processes without presupposing successful adaptation and transformation?

Therefore, we welcome papers that direct attention towards boundaries and obstacles, to demarcations as reactions to the transfer process itself, and hope to encourage contributions from a wide variety of disciplines and topics by deliberately defining demarcation broadly: demarcations as reactions to transfer processes can range from unconscious, sceptical or conservative dismissals of the unfamiliar to offensive, conscious and even aggressive assertions of the differences between the “own” and the “foreign”. Thus, transfers fail due to the emphasis on and even construction of borders and barriers in reaction to encounters and interaction during the transfer processes. Examples of this can be cases of failed integration among minorities or migrants legitimized by references to values and traditions, transfers that were halted by what was perceived of as insurmountable differences in political or religious ideologies, or direct confrontations in border regions resulting in processes of demarcation.

On the other hand, transfers can also turn out surprisingly successful in spite of clear demarcations, which tells a lot about the permeability of allegedly rigid borders. Examples can touch upon the surprising transcendence of social borders in traditional class societies, of physical borders such as wartime frontlines or the Iron Curtain or of racial boundaries in colonial societies. Eventually successful transfers can motivate further demarcation processes, as the spread of nationalism and national thinking throughout the world or the similar but competing versions of modernity in East and West during the conflict of systems have illustrated.

You are cordially invited to the 5th Annual Graduate Conference in European History, which will be held at the European University Institute, Florence, Italy, from 28 to 30 April 2011. For participation, please, send the title and a 300-word abstract of your paper along with your contact details and CV to by February 1st. The conference has no registration fee and lunches will be provided for the participants. Accommodation will partly be covered by the organizer, and part of the travel costs can be reimbursed on the basis of individual request. More information regarding travel and accommodation will be sent along with notification of acceptance.

The GRACEH 2011 Organizing Committee: Prof. Antonella Romano, Joonas Korhonen, Hanne Østhus, Magnus Qvistgaard, Lars Fredrik Stöcker, Daria Bocharnikova.

For further information, please contact the organizers by e-mail:, or see:



Hanne Østhus
Department of History and Civilization
Villa Schifanoia
Via Boccaccio 121
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