National Histories, Imperial Memories - Representing the Past in Interwar Central Europe and Beyond
CRAACE online seminar series, Autumn 2021
In 1918 the multinational Habsburg Empire collapsed. In its successor states, official narratives of history tended to downplay the imperial context and highlight the continuous, distinct history of the nation, projecting modern ideas of national identity onto the past. This view of history was promoted through monuments, commemorations, and countless other products of visual culture. Nevertheless, while 1918 was undoubtedly a watershed moment, it did not suddenly obliterate the shared past. The built and artistic heritage of the Empire was still present and had to be dealt with, whether through appropriation, destruction, or reinterpretation. The nationalities of the former Empire were in constant interaction with each other, whether politically allied or opposed, and they still lived together in multiethnic territories such as Slovakia or Transylvania. Commemorations and representations of the national past were conceived with an eye on the ‘others’. Remembrance was polyphonic, with different groups forming their own narratives, even if these were not always officially recognised.
This series of Zoom seminars held from late September to mid-December 2021 will examine how interwar visual culture engaged with the shared imperial past. Each seminar will feature papers of c. 20–25 minutes, followed by a discussion.