Where can Eastern Europe be placed in the current debates about (post)colonial traditions? What colonial attributes and practices of domination 'from outside', and what colonizing conditions within the greater region of 'Eastern Europe', can be identified? Are there interrelations with Ottoman or Central Asian history, for example? The Copernico Portal's thematic focus aims to address these questions within a time frame from the Enlightenment to the current colonial war of aggression by Russia against Ukraine.
To date, research has developed different strands and disciplines that have tended to parallel rather than to refer to each other. Building on Edward Said's "Orientalism", Larry Wolff, Maria Todorova and others have shown how 'Eastern Europe' has been constructed in Western discourse as 'the internal other', as 'Europe but not Europe' (Larry Wolff). The colonial gaze towards the east, which shaped Germany's long history of entanglements and expansion with and in Eastern Europe, represents a  particularly relevant case. A second line research, building on Immanuel Wallerstein's world system theory, asks about the (non-)position of the "Global East" (Martin Müller) as a "semi-periphery" (Marta Grzechnik; Ivan Kalmar).
At the same time, the impact of (post)colonialism within Eastern Europe has been and continues to be the subject of research. This applies, for example, to the colonial patterns with which different groups within empires and nation-states negotiated issues of multiculturalism and inter-ethnic relations. At the same time, this raises the question to what extent analogies can be found in the historical experiences of real socialism and colonialism. Finally, since February 24, 2022, the issue of Russian imperial-colonial ideology towards other states in Eastern Europe, but also towards internal non-Russian ethnic groups, has a renewed and dramatic timeliness.
The aim of this focus by Copernico is to highlight these different research approaches in an exemplary way and to think them in relation to each other. In doing so, the contributions, through their choice of topics and language, will pay special attention to making the postcolonial debates, which are usually limited to an academic circle, accessible to a broader audience. In this way, both the relevance of Eastern Europe in the global experience of (post)colonialism and the specific ambivalences of the region will be highlighted. In particular, the focus of Copernico is on the diverse and contradictory colonial experiences and ideas in Eastern Europe, as these challenge a mere colonizer/colonized dichotomy and point to gray areas and contradictory positions in the colonial order.
Papers are welcome on the entire region of Eastern Europe and its interrelations. The following topics are of particular interest:
  • German colonial views and discourses on Eastern Europe,
  • Imperial/colonial policies in Eastern Europe (both on the part of empires and within nation-states),
  • Eastern European colonizations,
  • Alterity discourses, (self-)orientalisms, civilizing missions,
  • (post)colonial self-conceptions in the socialist and post-socialist periods,
  • Colonial images in literature, art and media,
  • Postcolonial perspectives on the relationship of Eastern Europe to Europe.
Submissions are invited in a wide variety of formats and content types, ranging from accessible introductory formats to in-depth background articles on specific issues. The maximum length of texts is to be 12,000 characters including spaces. Other formats, for example the introduction of historical personalities, object histories, or selected historical sources, may also be significantly shorter (4,000-6,000 characters).
Contributions with a length of 10,000 characters or more will be published in parallel on the Herder Institute's publication server and provided with a DOI. In addition, all contributions in the portal have a citation recommendation, permalinks and license reference. All contributions will be published bilingually and translated into English (if required, contributions can also be submitted in English and translated into German). For each entry, at least one attractive, high-resolution illustration with caption and rights clearance is required. The submitted contributions will be proofread within the framework of an internal review process. All authors retain the rights to use their own texts. Further instructions for contributors, illustrations and keywords are available on the portal itself and on request at: copernico@herder-institut.de
The normal guidelines for good academic practice apply.
Deadline and dates:
Please send an abstract of max. 300 words with a short description of the planned contribution to copernico@herder-institut.de by May 31, 2023. You will receive feedback regarding the acceptance of your contribution for the main topic by June 30, 2023. Deadline for submission of finished contributions is October 15, 2023.