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FRIPRO-Fri prosjektstøtte

Probing the Boundaries of the (Trans)National: Imperial Legacies, Transnational Literary Networks and Multilingualism in East Central Europe

Alternative title: På tvers av nasjonale grenser: imperial arv, transnasjonale litterære nettverk og flerspråklighet i Sentraleuropa

Awarded: NOK 8.6 mill.

Now consisting of different small nation-states, East Central Europe was for centuries part of the Habsburg Monarchy. The multinational and multilingual Habsburg Monarchy was characterized by fascinating examples of supranational identification, rich transnational literary networks, and multilingual practices. But what happens to these practices when the supranational frame falls apart? The aim of Probing the Boundaries of the (Trans)National was to explore the continuities and discontinuities of the legacy of the Habsburg Monarchy in order to understand current tensions between the ideology of the nation-state, multilingualism, and forms of belonging beyond and below the nation in Europe today. The project brought together an international group of historians, linguists, anthropologists, and literary scholars to explore the afterlife of the Habsburg Monarchy from an interdisciplinary perspective. The project examined 1) how and to what effect literary texts from (former) Yugoslavia, Romania and Hungary represent, play with, and reflect upon multilingualism as a historically rooted phenomenon; 2) how transnational literary networks of Hungarian minorities transformed in the interwar and post-1989 periods; 3) how formal and informal multilingual practices in East Central Europe developed after the creation of nation-states in 1918 and how the language situation and language policies (esp. with regard to education/language learning) look like today in the multiethnic regions of Vojvodina (Serbia) and Transylvania (Romania). The methodological approach varied in each subproject, from the analysis of literary texts and the study of archival materials, translation and publishing practices, to qualitative ethnographic analysis (semi-structured interviews, participant observation) and linguistic landscape analysis as used in linguistic anthropology and sociolinguistics. The project was led by Stijn Vervaet (UiO, ILOS) in close collaboration with Marija Mandic (Institute for Balkan Studies, Belgrade / Humboldt University, Berlin). Two postdoctoral fellows have been attached to the project were appointed at ILOS (UiO): Krisztina Rácz and Mónika Dánél. Four workshops were organized as part of the project: three in Oslo and one in Subotica (Serbia). Through mutual research visits, co-writing, and co-editing, the literary scholars of the team developed a close collaboration with the Leibniz-Institut für Geschichte und Kultur des östlichen Europa (GWZO) in Leipzig. The project team organized three workshops in Oslo: one about memories of the Habsburg Monarchy and “national indifference,” one about transnational literature in East-Central Europe, and one about the nexus between multilingual practices, education policies and language ideology in East-Central Europe from the last decades of Austria-Hungary until today. In addition, the project team organized a bilingual (Serbian-Hungarian) public outreach workshop in Subotica, at which we brought together linguists and literary scholars on the one hand, and stakeholders in the field of minority education and publishing on the other hand. Our preliminary results suggest that 1) there existed, and still exist, historically and locally embedded informal as well as institutionalized educational models for language learning based on living multilingualism that not only seem to confirm, but could also potentially contribute new insights to the hypotheses of the recent literature on translanguaging; 2) that minority literature from East-Central Europe is a much more dynamic field than usually assumed in scholarly literature, characterized by a dynamic translation- and publishing culture; 3) that East-Central European literature has common supraregional characteristics that can shed new light on debates about the relations between national, regional and transnational literature, as well as on the antinomies characteristic of the concept world literature.

De mulige virkningene og merverdi av prosjektet for feltet er: (1) prosjektet har brakt nye teoretiske verktøy og kategorier til forskningen om sosiolingvistiske problemstillinger og minoritetsspråkbruk i Sentral Europa (2) prosjektet har tatt i bruk disse nye verktøyene og kategoriene på sentraleuropeisk litteratur gjennom, og dermed knyttet feltet til samtidsdebatter i litteraturvitenskap om verdenslitteratur, litterær flerspråklighet og postimperiale studier (3) prosjektet har økt deltagernes empiriske og teoretiske kunnskaper om Sentral-Europa, og betydelig forsterket deres akademiske nettverk gjennom internasjonalt og tverrfaglig samarbeid. De forventede effektene for samfunnet: (1) gjennom kommunikasjon, debatt og idéutveksling med ikke-akademiske interessenter har prosjektet åpnet for en åpen, nøytral og faktabasert debatt om nasjonale minoriteter, rettigheter og identiteter ved å legge kontroversielle temaer som flerspråklighet i minoritetsutdanning i regionen til diskusjon; (2) ved å framheve og analysere de flerspråklige og transnasjonale aspektene av sentraleuropeisk litteratur, har prosjektet lagt opp til å utfordre mottatte forestillinger om den monolingvale nasjonale kanonen og vist hvordan det er mulig å skrive flerkulturell litteraturhistorie.

Recent developments in Europe indicate a resurrected belief in a strong nation-state as an alleged antidote to top-down decision making within a supranational European Union. But strong right-wing reactions during the refugee crisis, Brexit, and the French presidential elections also point to another resilient characteristic of the nation-state: its ideology of "one nation-one language-one territory" and the resistance against minorities and (non-European and Eastern European) migrants that comes with it. The increasing tensions between the monocultural and monolingual paradigm of the nation-state and the growing variety of forms of belonging beyond the nation that are grounded in individual and social multilingualism suggest that Europe faces the challenge of dealing differently with identity and multilingualism. To tackle this challenge, a better understanding is needed of how these tensions are played out on a smaller scale. Because of the long-lasting imprint of the multinational and multilingual Habsburg Monarchy, East Central Europe offers an ideal testing ground to understand how modes of thinking and practices of living beyond and below the national function(ed) within a limited geographical space and to observe the continuity and the transformation of these practices over a longer period. Drawing on the expertise of historians, literary scholars, linguists, and anthropologists, this project will explore the legacy of the Habsburg Monarchy as memory, as transnational habitus, and as lived practice. The project will be organized around three interrelated work packages that approach the continuities and discontinuities of the Habsburg legacy from a different, complementary angle: WP1 examines the recollection, imagination and reflection upon the Habsburg legacy; WP2 transnational literary networks; and WP3 lived multilingual practices. We will organize three thematic workshops in Oslo and one with participation by local stakeholders in Subotica (Serbia).

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FRIPRO-Fri prosjektstøtte

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