Moving Mountains: The Carpathians after 1918

Call for Papers


Border-Making and Its Consequences: Perspectives from Romania

Moving Mountains: The Carpathians after 1918


ABS II World Conference, 10–14 Juli 2018, “Habsburg program“

As a consequence of the unification of the Hungarian territories co-inhabited by Romanians (Transylvania, Partium, Banat) with the Kingdom of Romania in the year 1918, the Carpathians moved to the centre of the emerging “Greater Romania”.  Until then, the central parts of the mountain massif had marked the external frontier of the Danube Monarchy and especially of “millennial Hungary”. The enlarged Romanian state as well as the diminished Hungarian state therefore needed to actualize their national master narratives. Romania, which found its territorial gains internationally acknowledged at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919/1920 had to face the challenge to practically and mentally unify both sides of the Carpathians. 


In this panel, the focus is laid on the change of the role of the Carpathians after 1918 from a border mountain range into an integral part of the Romanian state territory and the discursive and practical long-term consequences of this shift: How to transform an established boundary zone into the hinge of a state and its changing society? How is its symbolic capital exploited for the national integration process? How does the Hungarian discourse react to this process? To what extent can we find the patterns of a “phantom border” (“Phantomgrenze”) alongside the Carpathian’s ridge, continuing to demarcate the “Habsburg” west on the one side and Walachia and Moldova in the south and the east? How do ethnic and religious minorities cope with the “moving mountains”? How does Romanian, Hungarian and German literature address this problem? Which complementary narratives emerge concerning the efforts of topographic and symbolic demarcation and integration as e. g. rivers as a connecting element?


With the example of the Romanian Carpathians after 1918 the proposed panel will address crucial questions concerning the causal relationship between geographic “barriers” and their functionalization and attribution as demarcation lines. Thus, a comparative discussion about the persistence of imperial coining along a “phantom border” reaching from Poland via Ukraine towards the Balkans will be encouraged. Moreover, this approach opens the perspective to entanglements and interdependences to question mono-ethnic discourses. On the other hand, the issue of social and national integration as a post-imperial phenomenon will be broached by featuring a “longue durée” approach right up to the present.


All interested colleagues from all areas of the humanities and social sciences are kindly invited to submit a proposal for this interdisciplinary panel.


Dr. Florian Kührer-Wielach, Institute for German Culture and History of Southeastern Europe at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München