CfP: Anti-fascism and Ethnic Minorities: Political and Cultural Forms of Resistance in Central and Eastern Europe, ca 1920–1950

Call for papers, deadline 1 February 2021

The relation between anti-fascism and ethnic minorities has largely been overlooked in the previous research dealing with anti-fascism and resistance in Europe. Fascist and national socialist movements envisioned the formation of homogenous national communities, which by definition put national minorities under considerable pressure. Did ethnic minorities thus have a stronger position in anti-fascist political and cultural activism? Was anti-fascism even used for the purposes of consolidating ethnic minority identities? How did ethnic minority writers and artists relate to the fascist threat in their artwork, or as public figures?

Accepted proposals will be invited to an international conference-workshop where we will bring together researchers from different disciplinary fields related to ethnic minorities and anti-fascism. The papers will be published in a peer reviewed edited volume. We invite contributions from the perspective of political and cultural history but also literary, theatre, art and film studies, the fields of history, ethnic and nationalism studies, as well as minority studies.

Ethnic minorities have in the age of the nation state often been perceived as an anomaly. The collapse of the Austro-Hungarian, German, Russian and Ottoman empires after the First World War resulted in the creation of new, but often unstable, state formations in Eastern, Northern and Central Europe. In this call for papers, we are seeking for contributions on ethnic minorities and their responses to fascism from the Baltic Sea region to the Balkans, including Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Austria, Yugoslavia, and Albania. Ethnic minorities could also be included from the eastern border regions of the Weimar Republic and the western regions of the Soviet Union, such as the Soviet Republic of Ukraine, or the multiethnic and independent states of Romania and Bulgaria, whose borders had also been adjusted as a consequence of the First World War. Although the new states had been created according to the principle of "national self-determination" they all contained substantial ethnic minorities from their neighbouring countries, while all countries contained larger or smaller Jewish and Roma communities too.

In previous historical research since the Cold War era, anti-fascism in general, and in this region in particular, has mainly been linked with communism. The Soviet occupation and influence in these areas after the Second World War made the topic of anti-fascism politically sensitive, especially as it was incorporated as a central Soviet myth that justified the prolonged rule over large parts of Eastern and Central Europe. Latest research has, however, highlighted how interwar opposition and resistance against fascism and Nazism was much broader in scope and involved a number of different social, political and cultural groups in interwar and wartime society that never was limited to communist anti-fascism. We therefore welcome proposals that analyze the relation between anti-fascism and ethnic minorities from an intersectional approach, exploring how various constellations of class, ethnicity, gender and other identities affected the formation of anti-fascist responses. How did different ethnic minorities confront the fascist and Nazi threat and what kind of responses were articulated in response to domestic fascist and right-wing movements? Did Nazi anti-Semitism invigorate broader activism among other European ethnic minorities, or did anti-fascists remain a minority within the minorities?

Themes for the proposed edited volume include, but are not limited to:
- Anti-fascism and the defense of democracy
- Anti-fascist reactions to the racial laws and anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany
- The role of anti-fascist minorities in border regions
- Jewish Anti-fascism
- Anti-fascism in the literature of specific regions or minority communities
- Resistance activities by ethnic minorities during the Second World War
- Anti-fascist internationalism among minority groups
- Anti-fascist exiles from the Central and Eastern European minority communities
- Minority writers, minority literature and anti-fascist resistance in the arts
- Anti-totalitarianism and ethnic minorities
- Historical narratives and historical memory of anti-fascism and minorities

Proposals should be submitted by 1 February 2021.

Decisions on the acceptance of proposals will be notified by 15 February 2021.

Full draft articles should be submitted by 15 October 2021. Accepted contributors are invited to present their papers at an international conference-workshop organized November 11–12, 2021, at Åbo Akademi University, Turku, Finland.

Please submit your abstract (ca. 500 words) and a short CV to: , ,

The workshop conference is organized by the research project Finland-Swedish Anti-fascism [Den Finlandssvenska antifascismen] which analyzes the relation between minorities and anti-fascism from an intersectional perspective. The project is funded by the Society of Swedish Literature in Finland and is based at Åbo Akademi University, Turku, Finland.


Kasper Braskén
Abo Akademi University