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Conference: Histories of 1914. Debates and Use of the Origins of World War One in Southeastern Europe, 20-22 November 2014, Graz‏

Call for Papers: Histories of 1914. Debates and Use of the Origins of World War One in Southeastern Europe

Southeast European Dialogues
Center for Southeast European Studies
University of Graz
20-22 November 2014

The annual conference of the Centre for Southeast European Studies “Southeast European Dialogues” will be devoted this year to the centenary of the beginning of World War One. Rather than looking at the war itself and its causes, the conference will explore the way the war is remembered in Southeastern Europe. The narratives of the causes and origins of the war have been subject to reinterpretation and renewed interest over the past year and the conference will map out the debates over how to remember the beginning of World War One, the way in which these narrative fit into existing national historiographies and how larger historical debates fit into the regional context, as well as how these debates have evolved over time and interrelate with the present.

Thus, the conference will reflect on the origins of World War One and the war itself in three fields:
Firstly, the conference will innovatively reflect the historiography on the outbreak of the war, its causes and the impact of the war in Southeastern Europe.
Secondly, the conference will explore the ways the war is remembered in Southeastern Europe.
And thirdly, the conference will offer insights into the ways in which the war and its break out have become subject to ideological and political interpretation.
As recent Western historiography has shifted the origins of World War One more to Southeastern Europe, focusing on Gavrilo Princip and the role of Serbia, the conference seeks to explore how this has partially fuelled anti-Western/victimization narratives in the region and also risks furthering an Balkanist view of the region.
Within Southeastern Europe, in Serbia and Bosnia in particular, there has been controversy over how to remember Gavrilo Princip and how to characterize Austro-Hungarian rule in the region. The conference will explore these debates and relate them to the larger historiographical controversies. The degree to which the question of responsibility for the outbreak of the war related to the contemporary states and their self-perception through public commemoration will be another focus of the conference, as well as competing ethnonationalist and political interpretations and commemoration.
As such, the conference seeks to embed the historical understanding of the past with the present and link the regional with global debates. Being an interdisciplinary conference, it will highlight not just historiographical debates, but political and ideological representation and instrumentalisation, the visual culture of remembrance and popular culture.

The presentations are invited to reflect on these debates and historiographical discussions in Southeastern Europe, including not just the post-Yugoslav space, but also Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey and Greece, as well comparative studies that link the region to larger global and European debates.

Call for Papers

If you are interested in contributing to the conference, please submit a 300-500 word abstract and a CV by 31 May 2014 to<>. A committee of the co-organisers will subsequently select around 10-20 participants based on the abstracts and academic qualifications. Accepted applicants will need to submit draft papers of 6,000-8,000 words one month prior to the conference. The drafts will be circulated among conference participants. Accommodation and board as well as transport to and from Graz will be covered for participants (conditional on the submission of the draft paper by the deadline).

The goal of the conference is to map out contemporary debates of the origins of World War One and the larger historical memory of the war and to contextualize these national and regional debates in the larger European context.
a) How have historiographical debates evolved in Southeastern Europe and how do they view and engage with earlier interpretations of the war?
b) What has been the reception of international debates, including over Christopher Clark’s “Sleepwalkers”, in the national and official historiographies?
c) What is and has been the public commemoration of the war and how is the war and its origin framed in public debates? Are the commemorations platforms for the reproduction of for example self-victimization?
d) How have the origins of World War One been used as analogies for contemporary events and how is the past interpreted through the eyes of the present? What are the characteristics of current interpretations of the origins of the War in the region and how do they function as tools for reproduction and abolition of ethnic identities, “us”, “them”, conflicts and separation lines – and in doing so, in the discourses of ethnic entrepreneurs, nation-builders and their opponents?
e) How do successor states to the multinational empire, such Hungary, Austria and Turkey reflect on the origins of World War One and embed them into the national histories?

The conference, drawing on the previous conference in the series Southeast European Dialogues, seeks to attract of senior and junior scholars. The first panel will include senior scholars to reflect on the larger debate. Subsequent panels with approx. 3 paper givers and a moderator/discussant per panel will seek to stimulate a cross-country and regional debate and seek embed the debates in Southeastern Europe within larger European discussion. In addition, it will seek to draw on a diverse disciplinary background. The conference will take place in English. Besides focusing on the academic debates, the conference will explore the political use and abuse and its relevance for contemporary analogies.

Southeast European Dialogues
This conference is the fourth in the series Southeast European Dialogues organized by the Centre for Southeast European Studies of the University of Graz. The first conference entitled “Debating the End of Yugoslavia” took place in November 2011 and included some 50 scholars and over 100 participants (for further details see the conference website: The second conference “Leaving Europe’s Waiting Room. The Crisis of EU Enlargement in the Western Balkans” took place in November 2012 and included high profile policy makers and analysts. The third conference “Rebellion and Protest from Maribor to Taksim. Social Movements in the Balkans” was devoted to recent protest movements and included a round table with activists and protest organisers.

Centre for Southeast European Studies
The Centre for Southeast European Studies was founded at the University of Graz in 2008 as interdisciplinary forum for teaching and research, based on the university-wide Southeastern Europe focus. The Centre runs a Joint Degree MA program in Southeast European Studies and a PhD program in Diversity Management and Governance, as well as organizing regular events on the region. Its research focuses on contemporary Southeastern Europe, including Europeanization, interethnic relations and democratization. Its staff include political scientists, historians and lawyers and it collaborates closely with other researchers at the University of Graz and internationally.

Publication and Dissemination
Sections of the conference will be filmed by the University of Graz and will be made available on the university and centre’s website ( In addition, members of staff will conduct short interviews with key participants that will be also made available as podcasts shortly after the conference. In addition, a follow up publication is planned. It is intended that a selection of the best papers will be published in a edited collection to be published as part of the series Southeast European Studies of the UK publishing house Ashgate. The series is edited by the Centre for Southeast European Studies. All paper givers are request to submit a draft paper prior to the conference and to finalize their paper within three months after the conference. The edited volume will then be published in 2015. Additional chapters might be solicited to ensure the coherence and relevance of the book.
In order to secure a maximum impact, it is planned to invite regional and European media to the high-profile panel and organize a press conference.