Rural History 2015

Panel 57

Organizers: Lorenz, Torsten (1); Müller, Uwe (2)

Affiliation: 1: Charles University Prague, Czech Republic; 2: Centre for the History and Culture of East Central Europe, Leipzig, Germany

Title: East Central European Agrarian Elites ca. 1900: between globalization pressure, national identity and economic interest

The historical master narrative on the end of the “long” 19th century in East Central Europe is about the breakup of the empires and the successful and the adoption of a successful model from the West by the national movements – the nation state. The economic part of this master narrative portrays the huge difficulties of East Central Europe with finding a productive answer to the challenge of globalization. It is about protectionism, which increased since the end of the 1870’s and again since the turn of the century, which in East Central Europe was accompanied by the rise of economic nationalism. At that time agriculture was exposed to a very strong globalization pressure, because since the end of the 1870’s global markets for agricultural products emerged very quickly, while prices were increasingly influenced not only by overseas competition, but also by unadjusted stock exchange trading.
Agrarians reacted to these developments with demands for stronger regulation of stock exchange trade and especially customs duties, i. e. protectionism. Besides “external” protectionism an “internal” economic nationalism emerged and with it another tendency towards foreclosure. For agriculture this meant at first the division of agricultural societies along ethno-national lines or the establishment of ethnically homogenous peasant associations in ethnically mixed regions.
The protectionism and economic nationalism of the agrarian elites until 1914 fits well into the picture of the agrarian elites, which was drawn by many of the National histories. They often suggest that especially the agrarian elites of noble origin were conservative-nationalist and as a result of the weakness or “wrong” ethnic belonging of the bourgeoisie before the upheavals of 1918/19 succeeded in imposing their values and visions on the whole nations.
In the panel we will reassess this picture of the “conservative-nationalist” agrarian elites from the perspective of transnational history.



Chair: Dietlind Hüchtker, Centre for the History and Culture of East Central Europe & University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany

Paper 1: Conservative and state-oriented? East Central European agrarian elites on the “Danish” way of rural industrialization

Uwe Müller, Centre for the History and Culture of East Central Europe, Leipzig, Germany

Paper 2: German landowners in Upper Hungary as bearers of innovation and scientific transfer (1848-1918)

Roman Holec, Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovakia

Paper 3: Cooperatives between business and ethnic struggles: The Eastern Prussian provinces and Bohemia/Moravia compared

Torsten Lorenz, Charles University Prague, Czech Republic

Paper 4: Agrarian Elites and Nationalism in the Habsburg-Monarchy and in the Successor States from the Late 19th Century until 1929

Zsombor Bódy, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest, Hungary


Suggested deadline for sending completed papers 31 july 2015

© 2014 Rural History 2015