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Legitimacy in Central Europe
Oxford, May 2002



International Graduate Conference in the Humanities and Social Sciences

European Studies Centre, St. Antony's College, University of Oxford
24-26 May 2002

Opening Keynote Panel (tentative):
Mr. Timothy Garton Ash (St. Antony's College, Oxford)
Dr. Martyn Rady (SSEES, London)
Professor George Schoepflin (SSEES, London)


The idea of Central Europe rests, paradoxically, upon ambiguous boundaries
and essential definitions. This heartland remains a contested area in
terms of overlapping and competing conceptions of territorial frontiers,
political authority, economic trading blocs, ethno-linguistic communities
and cultural development. Nonetheless, the region retains a genuine and
unique character whose expression extends far beyond the terms of
nationalist myth-making. In an effort to identify the workings of this
paradox, and consequently the nature of the region itself, the Conference
Committee of Postgraduates in Central European Studies at the University
of Oxford is calling for papers in the field which focus on the concept of

The notion of legitimacy embraces Central Europe's uncertainties and
certainties: it is a model both of justification and vindication, based on
a mixed historical legacy. On the one hand, Central Europe shares the same
instances of great socio-political change as Western Europe, from the
Reformation to the European Union. On the other hand, the dynamics of
these changes were and are different in Central Europe. From the Early
Modern period varied relationships between the spiritual and secular
spheres combined with alternative forms of social-economic hierarchy,
absolutism and imperialism to produce different founding principles for
future state development. From these processes and principles we can trace
varying subsequent patterns of ethnic diversity and national
identification. This legacy ironically pushes the region to the periphery
of Europe, even as its relations arguably provide the key to the
continent's affairs.

We are calling for interpretations of legitimacy that address this
essential contradiction. Our starting point is Max Weber's definition of
legitimacy as any one of three different ways of exercising power: by
tradition, charisma or rational legal authority. We aim to draw from these
three concepts of authority as we debate legitimacy in language, culture,
history, geography, economics and politics in Central Europe. We hope that
the ensuing discussion will bridge the methodological gaps between the
academic disciplines, whose respective approaches have come to reflect
cleavages in the subject matter itself. Panel sessions will follow a
chronological framework, from the *Early Modern period to the present*.

The boundaries of 'Central Europe' for these purposes remain broad and can
include the region as it has been, and is defined, in relation to either
Western Europe or Eastern Europe. In addition, we particularly welcome
papers on minority (e.g Jewish and Roma) communities within the region.

                                *     *     *

The Committee suggests the following possible topics for papers from the
Reformation to the present.  However, proposals need not be limited to
these suggestions, nor to the placement of particular themes within this
loose chronology:

* The Integrity of Community Life and Domestic Continuities
* Religious Conflict and Authority -- The Process of Secularization
* Nobility, Aristocracy, Intelligentsia - The Maintenance of Hierarchy and
  Sources of Reform within Empire
* Folklore in Relation to Definitions of High Culture
* Hegemony and Language - Dominant Linguistic Traditions
* Historical Construction as the Foundation of Ideology
* Regionalism Versus Cosmopolitianism - The Pressures of Modernization
* Great Power Interest and Ideological Influences - Changing Imperatives
  for Nationalism
* National Self-Determination, Civil Society and the Determinants of
* Journalism - Representation of Social and Political Change, the Public
  Voice and Literary Licence
* The Problem of Common Critical Consensus - The Establishment of 
  'Legitimate' Forms of Art and Culture
* Party politics and the Co-opting of Culture
* Borderlands and the Persistence of Pluralism
* World War II and the Holocaust - The Failure and Destruction of Civil
* Broadcasting and the Media - Locating Independent Viewpoints
* Central Europe During the Cold War - Contested Bloc of European Security
* Cinema and the Projection of Self-Conscious Identity
* From Revolutionaries to Politicians - A Troubled Path?
* Redefining Left-Right Cleavages in Transition Politics
* Devolution in Central Europe - Balancing the Centre-Periphery Relationship
* Patterns of Economic Interdependence
* The Emergence of National Business Elites
* Doctrines and Values of Development - The Mixed Results of Growth
* Political and Economic Infrastructures - Continuity or Change?
* Constitutionalism, Legal Transformation and the Problem of Institutional
* Post-Marxist Ideology and the Social Question in Twenty-first Century
  Central Europe
* Redefining Central Europe on the Eve of EU enlargement and Globalization

                                *     *     *

The Committee invites Post-Doctoral, Graduate and final-year Undergraduate
students in the Humanities and Social Sciences to submit original research
papers for discussion.  A one-page abstract of the paper (including
title), along with a curriculum vitae and contact information (E-mail,
Telephone, Postal Address) should be submitted no later than ** 1 FEBRUARY
2002 **. Read papers in their final form should not exceed twenty minutes
in length and must be in English.  The conference fee is yet to be
confirmed and announced.

                                *     *     *

Submissions may be sent by post or by E-mail (preferably in a Word
attachment) to the Conference Coordinator:

Larissa Douglass
St. Antony's College
Oxford, OX2 6JF
United Kingdom
(D.Phil. European History, St. Antony's)

Senior Academic Advisor to the Conference Committee:
Timothy Garton Ash
Kurt A. Koerber Senior Research Fellow in Contemporary European History
European Studies Centre, St. Antony's College.

The conference is held under the auspices of the European Studies Centre,
St. Antony's College, Oxford (

Conference Committee:

Monika Baar (D.Phil. European History, Brasenose)
Martin Benedek (D.Phil. Politics, St. Antony's)
Adam Fergus (M.St. European Literature, New)
Michael Fleming (D.Phil. Geography, Pembroke)
Katya A. M. Kocourek (M.Phil. Russian and East European Studies, St.
   Antony's; M.Phil./Ph.D. SSEES, London)
Stefan Szwed (M.Phil. European Politics and Society, St. Antony's)
Wanda Wyporska (D.Phil. European History, Hertford)

Assisting Panel to the Conference Committee:

Deborah Holmes (Junior Research Fellow in Medieval and Modern Languages, The
   Queen's College)
Tim Noetzel (M.Phil. European Politics and Society, St. Antony's)
Vanda Pickett (D. Phil. Czech Literature, Faculty of Medieval and Modern
   Languages, St. Hugh's)
Robert Pyrah (D. Phil. Austrian Cultural History, Faculty of Medieval and
   Modern Languages, Magdalen)
Marius Turda (Ph.D. History, Central European University)