Does the name matter? Central Europe and Central-Eastern Europe in different variations and configurations. A comparative analysis of the Polish and Czech discourses

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It is difficult to summarize such a multi-layered discourse. It is worth paying attention, though, to a few issues which seem relevant when we consider the differences and similarities in defining the concepts indicated in the title in both
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   ARTICLES  ABSTRACT PolitejaNo. 6(57), 2018, pp. 231-257https://doi.org/10.12797/Politeja.15.2018.57.13 Radosław ZENDEROWSKI University of Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński in Warsaw r.zenderowski@uksw.edu.pl Dušan JANÁK  University of Silesia in Opavadusan.janak@fvp.slu.cz DOES THE NAME MATTER? CENTRAL EUROPE AND CENTRAL 󰀭EASTERN EUROPE IN DIFFERENT VARIATIONS AND CONFIGURATIONS.  A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF POLISH AND CZECH DISCOURSES This article points at differences and similarities in ways of defining Central Europe and Central -Eastern Europe found in Polish and Czech academic dis-course. The aim of the article is, firstly, to identify these differences and similar-ities, and secondly, to indicate the probable reasons for their existence. In order to accomplish both goals, the authors analyze selected narratives of Czech and Polish historiography and the terms present in both kinds of discourse under analysis. The analysis is based on a selection of texts considered relevant and influential. The time span covered in the article is the period from the First  World War to the present times, with particular emphasis on the period from the 1970s onwards. In spatial terms, the article focuses on influential Polish and Czech authors working either in their home countries or abroad, as émi-grés. The object of study is discourse understood as a communication activity in  which meanings are continuously constructed. The article takes into considera-tion the following issues: (1)  the popularity of the notions of “Central Europe” and “Central -Eastern Europe” in both discourses; (2)  the evaluation of these concepts – namely the attribution of some positive and negative features to them; (3)  the presentation of the topoi  of Central Europe and Central -Eastern Europe in Polish and Czech discourses (the views concerning their spatial ex-  232 POLITEJA  6󰀨57󰀩/2018 Radosaw Zenderowski, Dušan Janák  tent and borders); (4)  political operationalization of these concepts in the form of integration (geopolitical) projects. Key words : Central Europe, Central -Eastern Europe, Central and Eastern Europe, Poland, Czech Republic INTRODUCTION One might think that the subject of our analyses are two concepts whose scopes both in Polish and Czech languages are quite obvious and raise no doubts. Central Europe  would simply constitute part of Central -Eastern Europe. In other words, Central--Eastern Europe would be made of Central Europe and Eastern Europe. However, it turns out that the problem is far more complicated. Both concepts are consequences of modern era discourses, although admittedly the discussion of the borders and char-acteristics of Central Europe has been held for two centuries, starting with the stabili-zation of the new political order in Europe following the Congress of Vienna (1815),  whereas the concept of Central -Eastern Europe is much younger, srcinating in histori-ography and political science only after 1945. We analyze here the concepts or models of two macro -regions which have been created generally in different historical conditions by scholars representing various fields, as well as politicians and economists pursuing their different interests. Both concepts appeared and developed in academic discourse, which, however, has always been strongly tied to political discourse. This mostly concerns the concept of Central--Eastern Europe, a specific reaction to the reality of the bipolar order established after the Second World War. The concept of Central Europe is much more complicated. In both cases, nevertheless, the srcin of the concepts analyzed here is strongly related to the historical aspect, as history and historians have played a vital role in formulating them. Naturally, apart from historians, political scientists, sociologists, geopoliticians, geographers, economists and culture experts have also contributed substantially to the development ofboth concepts. 1  This pluralism of the subjects presenting their opinions on the territorial scope and properties of Central Europe and Central -Eastern Europe contributes to the confusion over the two concepts. We can also observe a specific type of determinism here, namely the shape of a particular definition very often depends on the theoretical orientationor the world view adopted by the one who formulates it and on their political, cultural or economic interests. The definition depends on their likes and dislikes, their place of birth and residence, their nationality and many other subjective and objective factors. It is also worth noticing that people discussing Central Europe and Central -Eastern Europe are often more attached to the name itself than 1 An example of an attempt at dealing with both discourses on the grounds of culture studies is:  W. Parafianowicz -Vertun,  Europa Środkowa w tekstach i działaniach. Polskie i czeskie dyskusje , Warsza- wa 2016.  233POLITEJA  6󰀨57󰀩/2018  Does the name matter?… to facts and phenomena whose existence and properties they would like to prove. As a result, according to J. Trávníček, the author of a lengthy anthology of texts on Cen-tral Europe which illustrates the growing numbers of scholarly and press articles since the 1980s, we can find more and more review papers summarizing the research so far,  which gives an impression that when it comes to Central Europe and Central -Eastern Europe we are moving from a discourse stage to a meta -discourse stage. Individual nar-ratives concerning Central Europe and Central -Eastern Europe intertwine with meta--narratives and thus these ideas are becoming the object of scientific research. 2 The authors of this article assume, on the basis of numerous papers published by Polish and Czech authors on Central Europe and Central -Eastern Europe, that al-though both (Polish and Czech) discourses are internally diversified, there are also many divergences between the Polish and the Czech perception of what Central Eu-rope and Central -Eastern Europe stand for. This article concerns most of all observ-able differences and similarities between the two discourses in the ways of defining the above concepts. The aim of the article is, firstly, to identify these differences and simi-larities and secondly, to indicate the probable reasons behind them. In order to accom- plish both goals, the authors analyze selected narratives found in both discourses under discussion. Our analysis is based on a selection of texts commonly considered relevant and influential (discursive).It is hoped that this text will stimulate discussion over the Polish and the Czech per-ception of the concepts mentioned in the title, rather than close or summarize such dis-cussion. The time span covered in the article is the period from the First World War to the present times, with particular emphasis on the period from the 1970s onwards. In spatial terms, the article focuses on influential Polish and Czech authors, both working in their home counties and abroad, on emigration. The object of study was indicated in the title of the article and it constitutes (mostly academic) discourse understood as “(…) communication activity in which meanings are continuously constructed.” 3  It is examined from the point of view of sociology rather than linguistics, whose task is to show its structure and development in the above -mentioned period.In this article we consider the following issues: (1)  the popularity of the concepts of “Central Europe” and “Central -Eastern Europe” in both discourses; (2)  the valua-tion of these concepts by ascribing positive and negative features to them; (3) the topos  of Central Europe and Central -Eastern Europe in the Polish and Czech presentation 2  J. Trávníček, “Zrození střední Evropy z ducha  ”, in J. Trávníček    (ed.), V kleštích dějin. Střední Evropa  jako pojem a problém, Brno 2009, p. 293. The book consists of several selected texts divided into two sections: (a) Geopolitics, History; (b) Culture, Literature, Novel. It also contains two excerpts from  panel discussions (of Central -European and Russian writers in Lisbon in 1988 and dissident politi-cians and writers in the Budapest round table in 1989). Moreover, it contains a list of 100 most im- portant works on Central Europe. Ibid. p. 305 -317. A similar list, comprising over 300 items (mostly by Polish scientists) is included in the collective work: R. Zenderowski   (ed.),  Europa Środkowa: wspól-nota czy zbiorowość?  , Wrocław–Warszawa–Kraków 2004. 3 A. Grzymała -Kazłowska, “Socjologicznie zorientowana analiza dyskursu na tle współczesnych badań nad dyskursem”,  Kultura i Społeczeństwo  no. 1 (2004), p. 21 (transl. ours).  234 POLITEJA  6󰀨57󰀩/2018 Radosaw Zenderowski, Dušan Janák (perceptions of their spatial extent and borders); (4)  political operationalization of both concepts in the form of integration (geopolitical) projects. 1. THE “POLISH” CENTRAL 󰀭EASTERN EUROPE VERSUS   THE “CZECH” CENTRAL EUROPE? At the beginning we would like to point out that although Central Europe functions as a cultural and (geo)political concept in both discourses, Central -Eastern Europe is  perceived mainly as a geographic and, above all, (geo)political notion. As for the differ-ences, in Polish discourse both terms seem to be equally or similarly popular (with CEE slightly leading the race), whereas in the Czech language the concept of Central Europe clearly dominates and the term Central -Eastern Europe appeared in Czech discourse as late as at the end of the 1990s, mostly in political and geopolitical analyses (with a few instances in historiography and other fields of science) and usually in comparison to Eastern Europe or Central Europe. Its significance is marginal, it is extremely rarely used in everyday life, for example in the media, where the term “Central and Eastern Europe” is preferred. 4  Over the past two decades the concept of Central -Eastern Eu-rope in Czech academic discourse has predominantly been used in political science or geopolitics and international relations, sociology and history of art, 5  to mark a vaster region, whereas the term “Central Europe” is spatially more limited. This concerns par-ticular works especially by young or middle -aged scholars who are in touch with their colleagues in the English -speaking world (J. Miller, O. Císař) or in Poland (M. Kubát), or often participate in international research projects. 6 The concept of Central Europe is close to the hearts of the Czechs and Hungarians,  whereas Polish authors have long preferred the term “Central -Eastern Europe” for vari-ous reasons: due to their rich historical experience with the East and in order to differ-entiate themselves from the Germans who emphasize their Central European srcins  without the “eastern” component. 7  In general the concept of Central Europe lacked  popularity in Polish academic discourse practically until the 1980s. The term “Central Europe” is preferred by Polish political scientists, as noticed by A. Czarnocki, whereas 4 E.g. Z. Beránek, “Neklidné hranice americké politiky”,  Lidové noviny  (appendix “Orientace”),   14 April 2018,    p. 22/IV. The author is deputy chief of mission at the Embassy of the Czech Republic in the USA. It should be noted that these terms are often used quite randomly. See M. Ehl, “Jak se střední Evropa vrací do času socialism”,  Hospodářské noviny, 31 July 2013. 5 One important work in the Polish discourse on history of art is: T. Gryglewicz, “Dzieje poj ęcia Eu-ropa Środkowa”, in T. Grylewicz,  Malarstwo Europy Środkowej 1900 -1914. Tendencje modernistyczne i wczesnoawangardowe , Kraków 1992. 6 See M. Fryč,  Prezentace knihy „Rukověť dějin umění ve středovýchodní Evropě 400–1000”  , at <http://martinfryc.eu/vystavy/prezentace -knihy -rukovet -dejin -umeni -ve -stredovychodni -evrope- -400 -1000/>. 7 A. Czarnocki, “Europa Środkowa. Europa Środkowowschodnia: geopolityczne a historyczno--kulturowe rozumienie pojęć”,  Annales Universitatis Mariae Curie -Skłodowska. Sectio K: Politologia , no. 1 (1994), p. 26.  235POLITEJA  6󰀨57󰀩/2018  Does the name matter?… Polish historians tend to use the term “Central -Eastern Europe”, which can only par-tially be explained by the geographical scope of their research. 8  This is interesting as in Czech discourse the term “Central Europe” prevails in both academic disciplines, while the term “Central -Eastern Europe”, which exists parallel to “Central and Eastern Eu-rope”, enjoys a rather limited recognition, particularly in political science, international relations and geopolitics. 9 By the mid -1990s, Czech discourse had used almost exclusively the term “Central Eu-rope”, whose definition and territorial scope gave rise to controversies. Since the end of the 1990s, as already stated, the delimitation of the term “Central -Eastern Europe” was  primarily the domain of political scientists specializing in the theory of international re-lations and geopolitics. As early as at the end of the 1990s, a concise review of the main conceptions of Central Europe appeared in specialist literature, thanks to B. Dančák,  who analyzed integration processes in the region. The author emphasized the political and cultural aspect of the concept of Central Europe, dominant after 1945, as well as the actual division of the region into the part inhabited by Czechs and Hungarians and the one inhabited by Poles (quoted after J. Rupnik, a French political scientist and historian born in Prague). 10  P. Wandycz, who contributed to the introduction of the concept of Central -Eastern Europe to Czech scholarly discourse, pointed at the tendency demon-strated by Czech authors, who perceived Central Europe as a “central belt” separating Eastern Europe from Western Europe. 11  He also recalled the perspective of Russian polit-ical scientists, who combined Central and Eastern Europe in order to emphasize the pos-sibility of further internal divisions and claimed that in the east the region borders on the “post -soviet territory”, which, according to Dančák, means that the Baltic states, as well as Belarus and Ukraine, i.e. states which in Polish political science are clearly classified as Central -Eastern European, are not included in this category by the Russians. Within this confined region, I. Kobrinská, to whom Dančák refers, distinguishes three smaller areas: central (Visegrad), “southern” (Bulgaria, Romania, former Yugoslavia countries, Alba-nia) and “Baltic” (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia). 12 In order to determine the specific character of Central Europe it seems useful to use A. Ágh’s comparative study of quoted by Dančák in which differences between our re-gion and the Balkans as well as the border between them are taken into consideration. 8 Ibid. p. 23 -24. 9 B. Dančák, V. Hlouek, “Central and Eastern Europe in the Process of Globalization and Europeaniza-tion: Comparing the Czech Republic and Poland, in K. Fábián (ed.), Globalization: Perspectives from Central and Eastern Europe , Oxford -Amsterdam -San Diego 2007, p. 227 -250. This problem definite- ly requires an in -depth analysis of the subject literature (political studies), for example on the basis of the scientific journal  Mezinárodní polityka . 10 B. Dančák, “Geneze spolupráce ve střední Evropě”, in B. Dančák (ed.),  Integrační pokusy ve středoev-ropském prostoru II, Brno 1999, p. 8 -9. Podle: J. Rupnik   , Jiná Evropa, Praha 1992, p. 14 -15. 11 B. Dančák notes that the term „Central -Eastern Europe“ in the Czech scientific community appears extremely rarely and in serious books in the subject literature first appears in the Czech edition of P. Wandycz. B.   Dančák, “Geneze spolupráce…”, p. 24 -26. 12 I. Kobrinskaja,  Dlugi koniec zimnej wojny. Rosja i Europa Środkowa 1991 -1996,  Warszawa 1998, p. 19--20, 23, quoted after: B. Dančák, “Geneze spolupráce…”, p. 12.
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