Identities, categories of identification, and identifications between the Danube, the Alps, and the Adriatic

Ljubljana, April 20 and 21, 2017

In recent years, the notion of contingency and situational nature of group identities has been gaining wider recognition among historians. Additionally, social anthropology has introduced the notion that historical identities should be understood from the “perspective of natives” and contemporary categories of identification should not be imposed on the past. Therefore, in recent decades, we have seen a revision of the interpretations that saw modern nations as a necessary result of history. These days, many historians see group identities as a result of non-determinate processes which always had alternatives. The current state of affairs, then, is not a historical imperative, but rather, the result of coincidences, twists and turns, failures … Research has also shown that, even after the rise of nationalisms, nation-ness most definitely was not (and is not) relevant for the entirety of the populace and has not been relevant in all situations.

The aim of the conference is to answer these challenges with historical case studies. We’ll be taking a look at how the inhabitants of the region between the Danube, the Alps, and the Adriatic identified, and how they reacted to the introduction of new categories of identification – such as, for example, nations – and the relationships between various categories of identification; how they appeared, disappeared, and transformed. We’ll also be interested in the factors, which influenced these changes.

However, we are not interested in ethnic or national categories of identification only, but also professional, social, religious, gendered, and other categories which served as the basis for the formation of groups and proved to be relevant in particular situations and under particular circumstances. We will endeavour to interpret historical sources through the perspective of »multiple identities«, which more accurately represents an individual’s identity choices and strategies, all so readily available, particularly in our modern societies.

Keynote speakers will be Stefan Donecker (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Institute for Medieval Research) and Pieter M. Judson (European University Institute).

The conference language is English.

Meals during the conference will be provided. Travel costs and accommodation will not be covered.