New Frontiers, New Realities? The Case of the Banat of Temesvár

Starting from the case study of the historical Habsburg province of the Banat of Temesvár, currently divided between Romania, Serbia and Hungary, this presentation aims to explore the creative and destructive potential of imperial and national borders, their paradoxical quality of being out of step with the people they enclose and the persistence of mental and cultural frontiers long after the physical frontiers have shifted. The Banat of Temesvár was born out of a war of imperial conquest and disintegrated as a consequence of World War One. It saw several waves of colonization and brought together numerous ethnicities and religious denominations, forging a distinct regional identity over 200 years of imperial rule. The Banat was a typical Habsburg borderland and in its early days functioned as laboratory of imperial policies. Its change of hands from Habsburg to Hungarian authorities at the end of the 18th century did not obliterate its imperial legacy nor did the disintegration of the Empire more than a century later. The evolution of the individual splinters of the province post-World-War-One is one of the most fascinating aspects in the history of the province. A comparison between these fragments of the province reveals how border re-drawing can make the difference between life and death, prosperity and misery. This presentation will therefore examine how the new borders changed what was essentially the same polity and how subsequent political regimes were grafted onto the region’s imperial legacy and transformed people’s lives in radical ways.  


Irina Marin is currently Gastprofessorin at the University of Augsburg. She holds a PhD in History from University College London and has taught and researched at SSEES/UCL, Oxford University, University of Leicester and the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies. She has recently finished working on a project about the circulation of news, rumour and violence across the triple frontier between Tsarist Russia, Romania and Austria-Hungary at the beginning of the 20th century, which has formed the basis of her second book Peasant Violence and Antisemitism in Early Twentieth-Century Eastern Europe, to be published by Palgrave-Macmillan. Her first book Contested Frontiers in the Balkans: Ottoman and Habsburg Rivalries in Eastern Europe was published by I.B. Tauris and is a historical monograph of the Banat of Temesvár.


Dr. Marin's speech will be introduced by Dr. Philipp Ther.