A Continuation of War by Other Means: Cultural Diplomacy in Interwar East Central Europe
After the First World War various governments faced the dual challenge of constructing a new identity or image that would not only facilitate domestic unity, but also help realize diplomatic aims in the absence of military, political, and economic might. In the new, post-Versailles, geo-political climate the small nations of East Central Europe looked to the West for assurance along with political, economic and military support, with the understanding that while the game might be played in the East, the referees and the rules came from the West. The construction of a new, appealing national image was seen as a vital ingredient of interwar East Central European diplomacy. This lecture explores the dynamics that existed between national identity construction, cultural production, and foreign policy. In order to secure their status as “genuine” European nations and to gain invaluable Western support for their foreign policy goals, various East Central European countries deployed their cultural capital – real and imagined – to project an image of their nation abroad and to influence Western public opinion. This lecture investigates some of the avenues that the Hungarian political, intellectual, and industrial leaders tried to utilize in direct competition with their Czechoslovakian, Yugoslavian and Romanian counterparts.
Zsolt Nagy is a PhD candidate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Department of History. He was born in Hungary and moved to the US in 1995. He earned his BA at UNLV and his MA at the University of Chicago. He is in Hungary conducting his research for his dissertation –tentatively titled: “National Identities for Export: Cultural Diplomacy and Interwar East Central Europe.”