About the project

The project focuses on the question how European transnational historical (mezo-) regions had been conceptualized over time, across different disciplines and academic traditions, as well as in particular national/regional contexts. It seeks to “map out” the historical itineraries of the conceptualization of regional frameworks in relation to political, historical, cultural usages or discursive practices. The units of investigation are conceptual clusters rather than individual concepts, such as Balkans – Southeastern/South-EastEurope or Scandinavia – Norden.

Applying the toolkit of conceptual history to the study of regionalization, the project provides a European framework for identifying the main historical turning points of conceptualization of regions; identifies the most important counter-concepts in the given regional disocurses; and places all this into the relevant local political and institutional contexts which shaped both disciplinary and public discourses. Along these lines, the individual contributions study the temporalization of spatial categories, the conceptualization of territorial vs. non-territorial (or “qualitative”, e.g. “spiritual-cultural”, metaphoric) regions and borders; the alternative spatial concepts to the national space (for example federalist or pan-ideologies); the conceptualization of boundaries and delimitations (discourses about where a given region “ends,” the metaphors of in-betweenness), and the discourses of othering through spatialization (Occidentalism, Balkanism, etc.).

The aim of the project is thus to go beyond studying only the local usages and regionalist discourses, and conceive of European regional discourses as a dialogue: paying attention to cross-regional conceptualizations and the occurrences of cross-references as well as to the different logic of conceptualization characteristic of various disciplinary traditions. Thus, the main innovation of the project is that it describes the conceptualization of regions not only from inside out (i.e. how given political and academic elites defined their own region) but in a more dynamic way focusing on the clashes and negotiations of regional imagination over inclusion and exclusion.

The envisaged collective volume will be published within the framework of the European Conceptual Histories book series (Berghahn Publ.) and will be structured around two parts:


Part A, Individual regions, where attention will be paid to (i) internal regionalizations; (ii) external regionalizations; (iii) cross-regional comparisons (iv) the discursive construction of boundaries. The preliminary list of researchers and their topics include:

  • Antonis Liakos/ Vaso Seirinidou (University of Athens, Department of History and Archaeology): MediterraneanBenjamin Schenk (University of Basel, History Department): Eastern Europe
  • Balazs Trencsenyi (Centreal European University, History Department) Central Europe
  • Bo Stråth / Marja Jalava (University of Helsinki, History Department):  Scandinavia/Norden
  • Diana Mishkova (Centre for Advanced Study Sofia): Southeastern Europe/Balkans
  • Guido Franzinetti (University of Eastern Piedmont, Department of Law, Political, Economic and Social Sciences): Southern Europe
  • Mark Bassin (Södertörn University, Center for Baltic and East European Studies): Eurasiа
  • Partel Piirimae (University of Tartu, Institute of History and Archaeology): Baltic region
  • Stefan Berger (Ruhr-University of Bochum, Institute of Social Movements): Western Europe
  • Xose-Manoel Nunes (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Historisches Seminar): Iberia

Part B, Disciplinary traditions of regionalization:

  • Alex Drace-Francis (University of Amsterdam, European Studies Department): literary history
  • Attila Melegh (Corvinus University of Budapest, Institute of Sociology and Social Policy): historical demography/historical sociology
  • Eric Storm (University of Leiden, Institute for History): art history
  • Gergely Romsics (Hungarian Cultural Center, New York): political science
  • Georgi Ganev (Centre for Liberal Strategies Sofia): economic-historical regions
  • Martin Müller (University of St. Gallen) / Virginie Mamadouh (University of Amsterdam): political geography/geopolitics
  • Mihály András Sárkány (Ethnological Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences): anthropology and regionalizations
  • Stefan Troebst (University of Leipzig, Global and European Studies Institute): European historiography
  • Uwe Hinrichs (University of :Leipzig): linguistics

Project conveners:
Diana Mishkova, Centre for Advanced Study Sofia
Balazs Trencsenyi, Central European University

Coordinating and hosting institution:
Centre for Advanced Study Sofia (http://cas.bg)

The project is financially supported by a donator within the Stifterverband Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft.

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