RACIALISM: Racial Thinking and relevant sciences in East-Central Europe in the decades around 1900 communication

Duration: 
September, 2011 to February, 2014
Funding: 
Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship

At the core of the proposed research lies the desire to understand turn-of-the-century European fascination with the idea of race and the employment of modern sciences in the construction of racial theories in national and imperial contexts of East-Central Europe. The project will explore the history of racial thinking and related biological, human and social sciences in the mostly uncharted region of East Central Europe, with special focus on the Hungarian Kingdom in the decades around 1900. Rooted in the ethnically and confessionally most mixed region of contemporary Europe, Hungarian sciences faced unique intellectual challenges in constructing racial theories and creating ethnic, national and imperial identities, thus contributing to the process of Hungarian nation-building while legitimating liberalism in general. To understand how race, ethnicity, the nation and the multi-ethnic kingdom were co-produced in the region, systematic research will explore a variety of scientific disciplines, including ethnography, sociology, physical anthropology, criminal and social statistics, biology, public health, eugenics, and crowd psychology. Based on the Applicant’s preliminary studies and research hypotheses, the disciplinary trajectories of Hungarian ‘sciences of race’ seem to diverge considerably from the models offered by the historiography in the British, French and German contexts. Rather exceptionally, in the Hungarian intellectual field, a marked and overall shift towards a biological, hierarchical, and racialist thinking did not seem to have taken place before the end of WWI. Due to the originality of the research and its interdisciplinary nature, the planned outcome, a monograph, will contribute not only to the historiography of European “racial sciences” and science studies, but also to nationalism and imperialism studies, the cultural and social studies of fin-de-siècle modernity in Central Europe, and the wider scholarship on the Austro-Hungarian Empire.