IRP314 European Identity: Shifting Borders (Fall Signature Seminar)

Required for new students. Signature Seminar including field study in multiple Central Europe locations. Examines how borders and identities have shifted over time, and the role of these shifts on the current rise of populism in the region.

Central Europe is a region that has gone through major transformations during the last century or so. Emancipation from various empires led to precarious sovereignties in the aftermath of World War I; Nazi domination in the late 1930s and early 1940s was followed by that of the Soviet Union starting in 1945; 1989 saw the sudden and unexpected collapse of the communist regimes, the recovery of true independence, and the start of the difficult transition to democratic rule and a market economy facilitated by the subsequent collapse of the USSR. Finally, in 2004-2007, all of these nations joined the European Union, after a long and complex series of reforms. Following a series of successful developments, recent years have seen new challenges and unexpected events: the unprecedented immigration crisis coupled with strong pressures to restore state borders, the emergence of populism and the rise of far-rightist parties and nationalistic ideologies, and the implementation of policies and decisions which seem to go against the principles of liberal democracies (Poland, Hungary). All this has happened against the spectrum of a newly assertive Russia and the threats of Islamism, in its both violent and non-violent forms. It is therefore important to look at some of these issues, to analyze their specificities in the countries of interest to us and to examine their potential impact on both domestic, European and international arenas.

Our “travelling” seminar will take you through these fascinating and dramatic transformations in Germany, Poland, and, via the Czech Republic, to Austria.

Meets with: PSC 414/HST 471

Department: International Relations

Location: Strasbourg

Semester: Fall

Credits: 3