SYMBOLIC GEOGRAPHIES, COLLECTIVE IDENTITIES
Fall Term 1995
Sorin Antohi
Department of History
CENTRAL EUROPEAN UNIVERSITY





Course Description

This course is designed as a second look at East Central Europe (ECE) in our century: it is not a narrative of historical events, but rather an interpretation of the ways people(s) in the region see their native space, themselves, their institutions, and the other. ECE is a puzzle of both symbolic geographies and collective identities: culture and history shape each other, the individual is deeply linked to his or her 'imagined community' .

This is inevitably an interdisciplinary effort: rudiments of intellectual history, cultural anthropology sociology, political science, philosophy of history will be introduced the discussion, according to a 'toolbox' methodology. This is also, if not mainly, an existential challenge: both the teacher and most students were born in ECE, so they have to deal with their own symbolic geographics, and identities, too. Thus, an 'objective' scientific horizon is continuously subverted by the 'subjective': self-identity memory, ideologies, cultural fantasies, and other forms of local knowledge.

Course Requirements

Your progress in the course will be evaluated as follows:
- Midterm Examination November 45%
- Term Paper December 45%
- Class Participation 10%

Your regular attendance and participation are expected. The latter may consist of questions and comments related to the topic of the weekly lectures. The Midterm Examination will be taken in class: students will have to answer five questions related to the topics discussed during the first half of the term. The Term Paper (fifteen to twenty-five pages, written at home, and due about two weeks before the day classes end) has to be a more personal project, related to the course, but also to your own research interests.

Required Readings
Stephen H.Craubard (ed.), Eastern Europe... Central Europe. Europe. Boulder, etc.: Westview Press, 1991 .
Joseph Held (ed.). The Columbia History of Eastern Europe In the Twentieth Century. New York.: Columbia University Press, 1992..
Joseph Rothschild, East Central Europe Between the Two World Wars. Seattle: University of Washington Press 1974.
Joseph Rothschild. Return to Diversity. A Political History of East Central Europe Since World War II. New York, Oxford; Oxford University Press, 1989. 2nd Edition 1993.
Jacques Rupnik, The Other Europe London: Weidenfeld&Nicholson, 1988. New York: Schocken Books, 1989.
George Schopflin and Nancy Wood (eds.), In Search of Central Europe. Cambridge: Polity Press. 1989.
Vladimir Tismaneanu, Reinventing Politics: Eastern Europe from Stalin to Havel. New York, etc.: The Free Press, 1992.

Suggested Readings
Michael D.Kennedy (ed.) Envisioning Eastern Europe. Postcommunist Cultural Studies, Ann Arbor, The University of Michigan Press, l994
David Turnock, Eastern Europe: An Historica1 Geography, 1815-1945 London and New York: Routladge. 1989
Katherine Verdery, National Ideology Under Socializm, Identity and Cultural Politics in Ceausescu's Romania. Berkeley, etc.: University of California Press 1991.
Larry Wolff, Inventing Eastern Europe. The Map of Civilization on the Mind of the Enlightenment. Stanford: Stanford University Press.


Course Agenda
Dates to be announced.

1. Introduction. ECE: the conflict of interpretations; the historical semantics of a geopolitical, and cultural notion.

2. The Failure of Political Identity. From empire to nation-states from federalism to ethnic utopias.

3. Symbolic Geographies. Eastern Europe? Central Europe? Mittleuropa? Europe? Representations of ECE, from Thomas Masaryk to Milan Kundera, Claudic Magris, and beyond.

4. Symbolic Geographies, II. Orientalism Metonymic orientalism. Balkanization. Political uses of symbolic geography.

5. Mimetic Competition. ECE, and the West. Regional tensions, conflicts, and consensus.

6. Collective Identities. Ethnicity and nationalism in ECE,. Ideal types and stages of nationalism. Church, state, and society.

7. Collective Identities, II. The production of collective identity; elites? intelligentsias, bureaucratics. Radical identities: Autochtonists vs. Westernizers. Collective stigmas

8. Collective Identities, III. The reproduction of collective identity: the politics of culture; education; the culture of politics.

9. The Other Majorities and Minorities. From voluntary assimilation to population transfers, Holocaust, and ethnic cleansing. ECE's constituting others.

l0. Communism. Totalitarianism? The New Man. The captive mind. Newspeak. Communist forms of collective identity. Communism and modernity.

11. Postcommunism. "Back to Europe'. Reshaping symbolic geographies and collective identities. The challenges of European integration. The end of Utopia? The end of History? The end of Modernity?



CRC-Curriculum Resource Center
CEU Budapest, Hungary
Modified: May, 1996


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