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EAUH Conference 2018

Sessions

Session SS38. The Winds of Change: Cities in the Aftermath of Empires 1918-1923

Coordinators: Tullia Catalan (catalant@units.it), Catherine Horel (horel.c@orange.fr)

The fall of three multinational Empires (Russian, Habsburg, Ottoman) after WWI had a significant impact on the life of the cities that were concerned with change at many levels. Not only did they experience modifications of urban structure as a consequence of war,but more importantly they had to cope with radical change of administration, frontiers, and displacement of populations. But these "winds of change" went hand in hand with continuity (again administration) and resilience. Urban change was sometimes superficial and did not penetrate so easily habitus, city rituals andcultural traditions. The panel wants to look at the immediate after-war period until Lausanne Treaty. It starts where latest research on city life during the war end.
Some of these cities changed radically their status: becoming a capital (Baltic States) or being restored as such (Prague, Warsaw); loosing ties with the motherland as a result of the Peace Treaties (Hungarian cities); being included in a new state system (Trento and Trieste) with the lost of relationships and economic ties with the hinterland and the instant forced removal of all Habsburg symbols (monuments, commemorative plaques); Polish and Ukrainian cities were involved in war operations long after WWI officially ended. The end of Ottoman rule affected multinational and multiconfessional cities on a dramatic scale with immediate consequences (international control, Jewish colonisation).
Changes affected the loyalty of citizens: majority becoming a minority; "revenge" of the former minority (damnatio memoriae on buildings and symbols); majority taking hold of the leadership (Italians, Poles); displacement of population, and modification of the urban strata (Greece and Turkey). The postwar order was characterized in some cases by redefinition of the urban planning supposed to respond to the new situation and to erase in some instances the previous one, and this was not only visible in capitals but also in smaller towns.
The relation between center and periphery was significantly altered: but were directions so radically changed in the everyday habits of the population? Cracovians kept going to the "capital", thus meaning Vienna and not Warsaw; Italians from Trieste continued to travel “to Italy”, as in the past. For whom in Czernowitz was Bucarest considered as a capital? Resilience seems to have been as important as the will of change: was the latter not merely wishful thinking and rhetoric?
The session welcomes paper proposals dealing with the aftermath of the three Empires, from the Baltic to Asia Minor and Middle East. We would like to concentrate on the topics of change/continuity (urban space, administrations) and resilience (culture, social strata, everyday life) by looking at populations (elite, majority/minorities), intentions (State, municipality), discourses, use of symbols and narratives.
Keywords: World War One; Austria-Hungary; Ottoman Empire; Russian Empire; frontiers;resilience