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(10 June 2017) "Music, Culture and Society in Central Europe."

Music and musicians played important roles in Central European cultural life. From the court to the street, from high literature to journalism, attitudes toward music became entwined not only with aesthetic values such as art and beauty, but also social and political values: the nation, monarchy, aristocracy, democracy, manliness, and justice. This conference seeks papers that link music, musical performance, or individual musicians with social and cultural projects in Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy, Poland, or the Balkans. We are particularly interested in historical perspectives, but papers with a more contemporary focus will also be considered.

Send an abstract to: Alexander Maxwell: alexander.maxwell@vuw.ac.nz

The conference will take place at the Kelburn Campus of Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand. The conference has no registration fee, and will be open to the public.

(11 March 2017) "Understanding ISIS/ISIL"

The emergence and success of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, popularly known as ‘ISIS’ or ‘Daesh,’ has had tragic consequences for people living in Syria and Iraq, but also aroused consternation and alarm in Europe, America, and beyond. This interdisciplinary workshop attempts to look beyond popular hysteria to consider the significance of the Islamic State for the Middle East, for the Islamic world, for Russia, and/or for the Western powers.

Send an abstract to: Alexander Maxwell: alexander.maxwell@vuw.ac.nz

The conference will take place from 12 noon to 2:30 pm in the New Kirk Lecture Theatre, KKLT 301, at the Kelburn Campus of Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand. The conference has no registration fee, and will be open to the public.

(7 July 2016) "Nationalism as Classification"

Nationalism theorist Rogers Brubaker proposed as an object of scholarly analysis “the modern state’s efforts to inscribe its subjects onto a classificatory grid: to identify and categorize people,” and generally drawing attention to historical actors who acquire “power to name, to identify, to categorize, to state what is what and who is who.” This conference explores classification and taxonomy as they affect nationality. Who classifies nations, how, and why? How are taxonomies imposed or resisted? How do national taxonomies interact with racial, linguistic, civilizational, or other taxonomies? We are interested both comparative analyses of nationalist taxonomies or case studies of individual taxonomizers. Send an abstract to: Alexander Maxwell: alexander.maxwell@vuw.ac.nz

The conference took place at the Kelburn Campus of Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand.The conference had no registration fee, and was open to the public.

We intend to publish selected papers in a scholarly journal. Potential contributors may contribute to the themed issue of the journal without attending the conference. The editor of the journal Nationalities Papers has provisionally expressed interest in publishing selected papers. Nationalities Papers has been ranked Q1 for history in the “SCImago” journal rankings every year since 1999.

Conference (5 July 2016): "Historical Practices of Civic Nationalism"

This workshop critically examined the concept of civic nationalism as a potentially useful analytical category in nationalism research, and investigated the historical practices of civic or at least quasi-civic nationalisms from around the globe. Which strategies did multi-ethnic and multi-cultural nation-states pursue in the past to foster national sentiment? Can their example offer useful lessons to contemporary democratic nation-states for successfully integrating immigrant populations? Which processes of “Othering” have characterized civic nationalisms?

The conference took place at the Kelburn Campus of Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand.The conference had no registration fee, and was open to the public.

Conference (9 May 2016) "Evolving Institutions in Ukraine"

In recent years, the modern Ukrainian state has once again become a topic of international interest. Civil and economic unrest have disrupted many elements of life, both for Ukrainian citizens and their international relationships. Current scholarship examining these socio-political developments draws heavily on post-Soviet studies, encompassing notions of soft power, cultural hegemony and centrally-planned economies. Key themes in contemporary considerations build on these common themes to investigate economic development, international relations, ethnic separatism and nationalism, and media and security studies, drawing together findings from across Ukrainian history and society.

The conference took place in AM 101 at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, thanks to the generous support of the National Centre for Research on Europe at Canterbury University, part of the New Zealand European Studies Network. The conference had no registration fee, and was open to the public.

Conference (28 March 2015) "Revolution and Repression in the Arab World"

The 2011 "Arab Spring" sparked dramatic political transformations in several Arab countries, with widely varying results. Tunisia and Egypt held remarkably free elections, while Libya and Syria collapsed into violent civil conflict. As of January 2015, Tunisia appears to have provisionally made a successful transition to democratic government. In Syria, meanwhile, the Islamic State, according to German journalist Jürgen Todenhöfer, aspires to "kill all Muslims who recognize Democracy." We seek papers exploring the politics of revolution and repression in the contemporary Arab World, broadly understood.

The conference took place in OK 406 (the Wood Seminar room) at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. The conference had no registration fee, and was open to the public.

Conference (5 February 2015) "International Norms and East European nations."

Timothy Garton Ash notoriously claimed that the collapse of Communism in East-Central Europe brought forth “no fundamentally new ideas on the big questions of politics, law, and international relations.” All too often, scholars examine the region’s post-Communist “transition” by asking whether countries have or have not accepted or implemented institutions or values originally developed in Western Europe or North America. Eastern European nations, however, have their own aspirations rooted in domestic history and traditions. The garments of progress and democracy must be tailor-made: one size does not fit all. While local elites may also pursue illiberal policies under the banner of local peculiarity, they may rightly detect imperial self-interest sanctimoniously posing as progress or “international norms.”

The conference took place in OK 406 (the Wood Seminar room) at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. The organziers were Alexander Maxwell and Wenwen Shen. The conference had no registration fee, and was open to the public

Conference (13 September 2014) "Ukraine: Historic Legacies."

The Republic of Ukraine won general recognition as an independent state after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Nevertheless, the history of the Ukrainian state and of the Ukrainain people goes back much further. This conference attempted to highlight themes in Ukrainian history that shed light on contemporary concerns, and partiuclarly the recent crisis in Crimea and the eastern Provinces.

The conference took place in OK 406 (the Wood Seminar room) at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. The conference had no registration fee, and was open to the public.

Conference (2 July 2013) "The Czechs and their Neighbors in the Twentieth Century."

The First Czechoslovak Republic, while heralded as a triumph of Wilsonian peacemaking after its founding, proved no more immune from nationalist tensions than its predecessor, the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. The state’s official census recognized sizeable Russian, Polish, German, Hungarian and Jewish populations; the majority 'Czechoslovak' ethnicity additionally masked the particularist loyalties of Slovaks, Silesians, and arguably Moravians, Chodové, Roma, and so forth. This workshop considerd the relationship between Czechs and their neighbours. Papers in the provisional schedule examine the Czech relationship to Germans, Lusatian-Sorbs, Rusyns, and Jews. It took place immediately before the AAEH 'Faultlines' conference in Wellington.

The conference took place in OK 406 (the Wood Seminar room) at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. The conference had no registration fee, and was open to the public.

Selected papers were published in the New Zealand Slavonic Journal, vol. 46 (2012). Geoffrey Brown wrote about Czech perceptions of Rusyns in Transcarpathia. Alexander Maxwell wrote about Sorbian Czechoslovakism before and during the 1848 Revolution. Ursula Stohler (Charles University, Prague) wrote about the Czech reception of the German woman writer Luise Mühlbach. Matthew Vink wrote about competing German and Czech claims to national self-determination after the First World War.

Conference (8 September 2012). "Tonics, Elixirs and Poisons: Psychoactive Substances in European History and Culture."

Psychoactive substances, whether narcotics, stimulants or hallucinogens, affect their users as individuals, yet their social context informs their cultural significance. At different times and in different places, different substances have become a locus of fascination or anxiety, praise or opprobrium, patriotism or prohibition. We seek papers examining psychoactive substances in a specific cultural context. How, when, and why did substances such as alcohol, caffeine, cannabis, cocaine, opium, tea, and tobacco acquire the cultural meanings that they did? How have consumers of psychoactive substances crossed the border between medical and recreational use, and how has society responded to any perceived transgressions? How have these substances been represented in literary, journalistic, legal, or scientific texts?

The conference took place in Von Zedlitz 606 at the Kelburn Campus of Victoria University in Wellington. The conference had no registration fee, and was open to the public.

Selected papers were published in the journal Central Europe , vol. 12, no. 2 (November 2014). Sacha Davis wrote about wine and modernity among the Transylvanian Saxons. Kostis Gotsinas (Paris) worte about heroin addiction in interwar Greece. Alexander Maxwell wrote about national alcohol in Hungary's reform era. Richard Millington wrote about literary representations of cocaine in German-speaking Europe. William Morris (University of Mississippi) wrote about opiates and leftist counter-culture in Frankfurt am Main.

Conference (11-12 August 2012) "1918: National Councils and Great Powers."

During the closing months of the First World War, all across the former Romanov, Hohenzollern and Habsburg Empires, new ideas about legitimate political power flourished. Most political entrepreneurs drew rhetorical inspiration from either Wilson or Lenin: the slogans “national self-determination” and “all power to the Soviets” arguably characterize the era. A central institution of the postwar environment was the council, either a “national council” or a council of workers, peasants, and/or soldiers. Most were short-lived, but a few won recognition as a legitimate government. Councils responded to local political constituencies, but also appealed to the great powers, which could potentially confer legitimacy or even provide military or material assistance. This conference examined councils in both their local and international contexts.

Martin D. Brown of Richmond, the American University in London, gave the keynote address: "Perfidious Albion and the Making of Central Europe: British Foreign Policy and East Central European Borders." Other speakers included Andrew Francis on the Yugoslav Committee in Auckland, Alexander Maxwell on the Lusatian Sorbs in Bautzen, and Matthew Vink on the Vorarlberg referendum.

The conference took place in OK 406 (the Wood Seminar room) at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. The conference had no registration fee, and was open to the public.

Conference (17 March 2012) "Nationalism and Religion in Iran"

Iran holds important lessons for the Middle East, for the Islamic World, and for the future of Nationalism. The Islamic Republic of Iran emerged from the 1979 Iranian Revolution, which Eric Hobsbawm memorably described as “the first major … social upheaval rejecting both the traditions of 1789 and 1917.” The extraordinary political role of Shi’a clerics in Iranian government and electoral policy make the Islamic Republic offer a unique laboratory for examining the confrontation between religious and national loyalties. The dramatic aftermath of the 2010 elections show the pressing relevance of the issues that the Iranian system of government poses.

The conference took place in OK 406 (the Wood Seminar room) at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. The conference had no registration fee and was open to the public.

Conference (24 September 2011) "Germanness Beyond Germany."

This conference explored how Germans beyond the core German region of Central Europe imagined their collective loyalties. Papers examined the interaction between Germanness and other political loyalties that can be credibly described as “national.” Papers considered both non-German regions of the Habsburg Empire and its successor states (Hungary, Galicia, and Transylvania), and German communities in the Pacific region (Australia, New Zealand, Tonga).

The conference took place in OK 406 (the Wood Seminar Room) at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. The conference had no registration fee and was open to the public.

Selected papers were published in German Studies Review, vol. 39, no. 1 (2016). Alexander Maxwell wrote about Hungaro-German dual nationality. Sacha Davis wrote about Saxon particularism and the myth of the German East. Sabina Groeneveld wrote about the German colony in Qingdao. Christian Wilbers wrote about Germanness and belonging in the United States. Dani Kranz wrote about Definitions of Germanness among Yekkes in Israel/Palestine.

Conference (26 March 2011). "Sexualities and Science in Eastern Europe."

Co-sponsored by the Russian Programme of University of Canterbury.

This conference examined the development of sexology and sexual psychology from the nineteenth century to the present, with a special emphasis on Eastern Europe (including Russia), the region which produced such “seminal” figures as Sigmund Freud, Károly Mária Kertbeny, Aleksandra Kollontai, Richard von Krafft-Ebing, and Leopold Sacher-Masoch.

Speakers included Tatjana Buklijas (University of Auckland, NZ), Aleksandr Etkind (King's College, Cambridge, UK), Eduard Iskhakov (Ufa Law Institue, Russian Federation), and Shannon Woodcock (La Trobe, Melbourne, Australia).

The conference took place in Murphy 101 at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. The conference had no registration fee and was open to the public.

Conference (28-29 August 2010). "National Bodies in Eastern Europe."

Co-sponsored by the Russian Programme of University of Canterbury.

This conference explored the spread of nationalized thinking as it relates to the body. How did people in central Europe, Eastern Europe, and the Balkans classify each other in terms of national concepts? Speakers from Austria, Indiana, Japan, and New Zealand spoke about bodily practices, literary concepts of the body, national sexuality, and eugenics.

The conference took place in Murphy Lecture Hall 101 (MY 101) at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. The conference had no registration fee and was open to the public.

Selected papers were published in the New Zealand Slavonic Journal, vol. 44 (2010). Alexander Maxwell and Henrietta Mondry introduced the volume. Takayuki Yokota-Murakami wrote about exiled White Russians and White Russian Jews in Manchuria and Japan. Michael Wedekind wrote about Ethno-Politics in Romania during the late 1930s and early 1940s. Linda Galvane wrote about Japanese-Russian mixed-blood characters in contemporary Russian literature.

Conference (20-21 March 2010). "The 'East-West' Discourse: Symbolic Geography and its Consequences."

This conference examined the rhetoric of "East vs. West" in various historical contexts and problematized its implcit assumptions. Twenty-one speakers from Australasia, Europe and America presented papers. Charles Ingrao of Purdue University gave the keynote address. A generous donation from the of the Polish Embassy helped make this event possible. The organizers wish to thank her excellency ambassador Beata Stoczynska. The conference took place at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. The conference had no registration fee and was open to the public.

Selected papers presented at this conference appeared in an edited volume, The East-West Discourse: Symbolic Geography and its Consequences, published by Peter Lang. Sacha Davis "East-West Discourses in Transylvania," pp. 127-154; Vesna Drapac, "Yugoslav Studies and the East-West Dichotomy," pp. 93-126; Alexander Maxwell, "Bridges and Bulwarks: A Historiographic Overview of East-West Discourses," pp. 1-32; and Glyn Parry, "Conceptions of the East: Medieval and Early Modern Europe," 33-50.

Conference (12 December 2008). "Hungarians and Their Neighbors: Conflict and Nationality in Central Europe."

This conference, convened by John Perkins, explored ethnicity in Hungary before the 1918 partition. Various papers examined ethnic communities in the Hungarian kingdom: Sacha Davis spoke about Transylvanian Saxons, Alexander Maxwell about Magyars and Shannon Woodcock about Gypsies (Roma).

The conference took place at Macquarie University, Australian History Museum, Building W6A, room 127. The conference had no registration fee and was open to the public.

Conference (12 December 2008). "Hungarians and Their Neighbors: Conflict and Nationality in Central Europe."

This conference, convened by John Perkins, explored ethnicity in Hungary before the 1918 partition. Various papers examined ethnic communities in the Hungarian kingdom: Sacha Davis spoke about Transylvanian Saxons, Alexander Maxwell about Magyars and Shannon Woodcock about Gypsies (Roma).

The conference took place at Macquarie University, Australian History Museum, Building W6A, room 127. The conference had no registration fee and was open to the public.

Conference (4 October 2008). "Polish Culture, Polish Experiences"

Speakers at this one-day conference include Lech Mastalerz (Polish Ambassador to New Zealand), Eva Polonska-Kimungyui (Monash University in Melbourne), and Desmond Brennan (Canterbury University in Christchurch).

The conference was held at Victoria University of Wellington in the Wood Seminar Room (Old Kirk room 406). The conference had no registration fee and was open to the public.

Selected papers from this conference were published in a special issue of the New Zealand Slavonic Journal, vol. 42 (2008). Glyn Parry, "English Magicians and the Crown of Poland: John Dee, Edward Kelly, and Albrecht Laski, 1583-1585," pp. 79-100; Alexander Maxwell, "Walerjan Krasinski's Panslavism and Germanism: Polish Goals in a Pan-Slav Context," pp. 101-120; Richard Millington , "Dissent in the Nation of Nobles: The Polishness of Joseph Roth's "The Bust of the Emperor," pp. 120-136; Filip Slaveski, "Competing Occupiers: Bloody Conflicts between Soviet and Polish Authorities in the Borderlands of Post-War Germany and Poland, 1945-46," pp. 137-55.

Guest speakers

All talks are free and open to the public. Unless otherwise specified, they take place at Victoria University's Kelburn Campus, in the Wood Seminar Room (OK 406). Any questions? Contact Alexander Maxwell.

"Poland and Ukraine: Can they Replace Russia Again?"
Daniel Zbytek (former Polish diplomat, co-editor of Res Humana).
Public talk (18 September 2016), 5:00 pm.

"Bosnia: Looking Back at a Tragedy"
Major General (retd) Peter Williams
Public Talk (4 April 2016), 5:00 pm. 

"Searching for Greener Pastures: Ukrainian Businesses' Views on the 'Other'"
Ruth Fischer-Smith.
Public Talk (7 October 2015), 5:00 pm.

"Hitler and German History"
Alexander Maxwell (Victoria University, Wellington) 
Public Talk (15 September 2014), 5:30 pm.

"Ukraine, Crimea, and the Crimean Tatars (1944-2014)"
Tamilla Dauletbayeva (Central European University, Budapest)
Public Talk (28 August 2014), 4:00 pm.

"Science and Nationalism in the Habsburg Monarchy."
Tatjana Buklijas, (Liggins Institute, University of Auckland).
Public Talk (27 July 2012), 12:00 noon.

"Poetic Correspondences: Arkadii Dragomoshchenko and Lyn Hejinian."
Jacob Edmond, (Otago University).
Public Talk (9 September, 2011), 12:00 noon.

"Stateless in Europe: Legal Faces of Nationalism in Estonia and Slovenia."
Caroline Sawyer, (Victoria University, Law).
Public Talk (18 May, 2010), 12:00 noon.

"Death to Fascism, Freedom to the People! The Extradition of Hungarian War Criminals to Yugoslavia."
Gergely Galantha, (Central European University, Budapest).
Public Talk (9 March, 2010), 12:30 pm.

“Integrating Macedonia into Global Institutions: The Role of the Macedonian Diaspora.”
Metodija Koloski, President, United Macedonian Diaspora.
Public Talk (23 Feb, 2010), 2:30 pm.

"Re-imagining Borders: Hungary and 'its own' sub-Regions."
Robert Imre, University of Newcastle (NSW).
Public Talk (10 Feb, 2010), 3:00 pm.

"Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine: Relations in the Aftermath of EU Enlargement."
Des Brennan, Canterbury University, (Christchurch)
Public Talk (10 September 2010), 10 am.

Film Evening (25 August 2009)
Russel Campbell, Victoria University (Welllington)

We show and discuss his new documentary, "Sisters from Siberia" (Vanguard films, 2009). The film traces the life of Wellington City Councilor Stephanie Cook, who adopted Katya (9) and Nadya (4) from a Siberian children's home, and the family's relationship to Wellington's Russian emigre community. This event took place in the Wood Seminar Room, Old Kirk Building, Victoria University of Wellington. It was free and open to the public.

"‘Turkey for the Turks, Greece for the Greeks’: The 1923 Greco-Turkish Population Exchange."
Gürer Karagedikli, Bilkent Üniversitesi (Ankara).
Public Talk (28 July 2009) 

"Black Shirts, Red Menace: Croatian Separatist Terrorism and the Cold War."
Mate Tokic, Freie Universität (Berlin)
Public Talk (24 March 2009)

"National Identity in Popular Music and Rap in Slovakia."
Peter Barrer (Christchurch)
Public Lecture (8 August 2008).

Call for guest speakers

The Antipodean East European Study Group is always looking for guest speakers. If you would like to give a talk at Victoria University on any topic related to East-Central European politics, history, culture, or diaspora communities, contact Alexander Maxwell.

This page was last updated on 1 March 2017