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Peoples Into Nations: Writing Eastern European History

John Connelly
Tuesday, February 18, 2020, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

WELCOME REMARKS / Michael Ignatieff / President and Rector, CEU

ABSTRACT /  Where is Eastern Europe exactly, and when does its past begin?  Nationalists argue that their nations have always existed. The talk argues that the region actually formed quite recently: in the 1780s, when Habsburg rulers attempted to make their realm German, thereby causing a panic among Hungarians and Czechs that they might disappear from history. The region's boundaries are therefore the boundaries of a certain kind of knowledge: that nations in fact are not eternal, but come and go, and urgently require protection. That knowledge is very specific, and so the question arises: what can East Europe teach people from elsewhere?

BIO / John Connelly is the Sidney Hellman Ehrman Professor of History and director of the Institute for East European, Eurasian, and Slavic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. His interest includes Modern East and Central European Political and Social History, Comparative Education, History of Nationalism and Racism, History of Catholicism. His most recent book From Peoples into Nations: A History of Eastern Europe  (Princeton University Press, 2020) is a sweeping narrative history of Eastern Europe from the late eighteenth century to today.