Turda, Marius Books
Dr. Marius Turda is a Marie Curie Fellow at Oxford Brookes University. He has written extensively on the history of ideas, historiography and nationalism in Central Europe and the Balkans. He is one of the co-editors of Discourses of Collective Identity in Central and Southeast Europe (1789-1945), Texts and Commentaries, 2 vols. (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2005), and editor of The Garden and the Workshop. Disseminating Cultural Creativity in East-Central Europe (Budapest: The Central European University and Europa Institut, 1998).2005 0-7734-6180-9
This book focuses on the ways in which biological discourses of race and ethnicity affected and shaped nationalism and the idea of national superiority in Central Europe between 1880 and 1918. Emanating from Britain, Germany and France, various discourses on racial superiority and survival of the fittest deeply intermingled with the hospitable terrain of nationalist doctrines. Their interaction in Central Europe, however, has never been analysed thoroughly.
At the end of the nineteenth century, scientific definitions of the origin, role and destiny of various nations were accepted as the most encompassing. If in Western Europe, the new orientation towards scientific explanations of ethnicity was mainly used to consolidate expansion and explain militarism, in the Austro-Hungarian Empire it largely became a source of national resurrection. In searching for new forms of expression, late nineteenth century nationalists enthusiastically resorted to what Western civilisation advertised as the scientific rationale for refutation, domination and aggressiveness: race. Ultimately, race came to represent not only the most important traits of the human body, but was also regarded as decisively shaping the character and personality of the nation. National superiority was one of the most important consequences of this transformation. It was largely acclaimed and vehemently contested.
The idea of national superiority in Central Europe between 1880 and 1918 designates those cultural, political and social representations ethnic groups used to mark their cultural distinctiveness and, consequently, prove their political hegemony. A new approach to the “nationality question” in Central Europe between 1880 and 1918 is needed. This book looks at this issue from an unexplored perspective. By focusing on the idea of national superiority, the book aims to answer the following questions: did Western racial and Social Darwinist theories have any impact on Central European nationalism? Was Austria-Hungary an arena of ruthless struggle for supremacy (Germans, Magyars) and affirmation (Italians, Romanians, Serbs, Slovaks), as contemporary nationalists described it? Was Ludwig Gumplowicz’s theory of Der ewige Kampf um Herrschaft the motto of the nationalist conflicts in Central Europe between 1880 and 1918?