Passages to Nationhood from Below: the peasantry of East-Central and South-eastern Europe in the nineteenth century

Course Description: 

Peasants in general made up the great majority of the constituencies claimed by the region’s national movements and budding nation states. The course invites students to map out continuities and ruptures in the peasantry’s collective identifications during the long nineteenth century and to assess how far peasants became conscious nationals by WW1. The first six classes will examine pre-existent ethnic and related divisions from a backwardlooking perspective and will discuss how they facilitated or hampered nationalisation. The second half of the course will be dedicated to interactions between elites and ethnic bases and to formative conflicts. With each topic, we will first undertake a case-by-case survey of the region and will then turn to the specific contexts described in the assigned readings and in other relevant historiography.

Learning Outcomes: 

• In addition to broadening students’ familiarity with theories of nationalism and ethnicity, the course will give them an insight into the current literature of a lively and complex research field.

• Students from the region are encouraged to re-think the genealogy of their national communities. 

• The topic is highly appropriate to generate reflections upon agency in history and to refine awareness of the potential pitfalls when reading sources.

• The assignments and the feedback received will improve students’ argumentative skills.


• Reading of the assigned texts and participation in class discussions (30% of the


• Oral presentation in 15-20 mins of a book/paper (written in any language) related to the topic and preferably taken from a context familiar to the student. The bibliography items highlighted in grey are suggested as examples (30% of the grade).

• Term paper, running to three-five thousands words. It can be a case study based on independent research, literature review of the field in a given national/regional historiography, reflection on the topic or one of the subtopics from a given 

national/regional perspective or even a position paper on the book/paper presented in class (40% of the grade).