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Ethnology in Central and Eastern Europe before, during and after the Second World War 
Indrek Jääts (Estonian National Museum)
Ilze Boldāne-Zeļenkova (Institute of Latvian History, University of Latvia)
Vida Savoniakaite (Lithuanian Institute of History)
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Historical Approaches
Thursday 8 June, -, -
Time zone: Europe/Prague

Short Abstract:

We are interested in the fate of individual ethnologists under rapidly changing political regimes of the mid-20th century. What kind of relations did scholars develop with different domestic and foreign authorities? What forms did their collaboration and/or resistance take?

Long Abstract:

Ethnology has always been interconnected with ideology and politics. This connectivity became especially evident before, during and after the Second World War (in the 1930s-1950s), when countries of the Central and Eastern Europe were divided and re-divided by different domestic and foreign totalitarian regimes. Ethnologists of the region used to study their own people above all in those times and their research tended to be interwoven with nationalism. Changing regimes - Communists, Nazis, and other authoritarian - were also very interested in peoples and their culture and tried to use ethnology in their own interests. They offered better working conditions on one hand and threatened with physical extermination on the other extreme. Ethnologists had to choose, whether to enjoy the benefits of collaboration or to face risks of resistance. Their choices were often quite creative.

Our aim is to understand, not to judge. We are interested in motivation, choices and fate of individual scholars on this rapidly changing international playground. What kind of relations did they develop with different domestic and foreign regimes? What forms did their resistance and collaboration take? How were émigré ethnologist received and how did they adapt to their new countries of residence? What about their relations with colleagues who chose or had to stay in homeland? What about international academic cooperation in those decades?

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Thursday 8 June, 2023, -
Session 2 Thursday 8 June, 2023, -