The Idea of National Superiority in Central Europe, 1880-1918
This book focuses on the ways in which biological discourses of race and ethnicity affected and shaped nationalism and the idea of national superiority in Central Europe between 1880 and 1918. Emanating from Britain, Germany and France, various discourses on racial superiority and survival of the fittest deeply intermingled with the hospitable terrain of nationalist doctrines. Their interaction in Central Europe, however, has never been analysed thoroughly. At the end of the nineteenth century, scientific definitions of the origin, role and destiny of various nations were accepted as the most encompassing. If in Western Europe, the new orientation towards scientific explanations of ethnicity was mainly used to consolidate expansion and explain militarism, in the Austro-Hungarian Empire it largely became a source of national resurrection. In searching for new forms of expression, late nineteenth century nationalists enthusiastically resorted to what Western civilisation advertised as the scientific rationale for refutation, domination and aggressiveness: race.
Ultimately, race came to represent not only the most important traits of the human body, but was also regarded as decisively shaping the character and personality of the nation. National superiority was one of the most important consequences of this transformation. It was largely acclaimed and vehemently contested. The idea of national superiority in Central Europe between 1880 and 1918 designates those cultural, political and social representations ethnic groups used to mark their cultural distinctiveness and, consequently, prove their political hegemony. A new approach to the "nationality question" in Central Europe between 1880 and 1918 is needed. This book looks at this issue from an unexplored perspective. By focusing on the idea of national superiority, the book aims to answer the following questions: did Western racial and Social Darwinist theories have any impact on Central European nationalism? Was Austria-Hungary an arena of ruthless struggle for supremacy (Germans, Magyars) and affirmation (Italians, Romanians, Serbs, Slovaks), as contemporary nationalists described it?
Was Ludwig-Gumplowicz's theory of Der ewige Kampf um Herrschaft the motto of the nationalist conflicts in Central Europe between 1880 and 1918?
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"Highly Recommended" by CHOICE "[This] book provides fascinating insights into Central European thought that will be valuable to students and researchers of fin-de-si^D'ecle Hapsburg Empire. The bibliography is extensive. Highly recommended. Upper division undergraduates and above." - CHOICE "I have been following Dr. Turda's work for the last 5-6 years and commented on the various drafts of his book that he is now submitting for publication. In my qualities as deputy director of the Institute of History of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and visiting professor of various American universities and study abroad programs I have numerous opportunities to observe the "making" of new generations of scholars in the study of Eastern and Central Europe. Dr. Marius Turda is one of the most promising young talents in this field and I am sure that with the publication of this book you can substantially contribute both to opening new interesting vistas in the research of the causes of the dismemberment of the Habsburg Monarchy and help a bright young scholar's career... This work will appeal to many: firstly, those who are interested in new research on the intellectual history of the Habsburg Monarchy from the perspective of the causes of its dissolution, including professors and students of numerous history, anthropology and political science courses; secondly, theoretically oriented readers looking for innovative approaches to the history of modern European nationalism; thirdly, students and professors of many courses dealing with ethnic, national tensions of pre- and post-communist Eastern and Central Europe and, of course, non - professionals interested in these problems; fourthly, "Transitologists", i.e. scholars who are looking into the peculiarities of transition from authoritarian to democratic societies in general and the special features of the post-communist East Central European transition in particular. Namely, the book gives insight into the "trouble-making potential" of the surviving reminiscences of the racial thought so brilliantly analyzed by Dr. Turda, and finally, intellectually demanding active decision makers of projects related to the culture, the economy and the politics of Eastern and Central Europe who want to understand the deeper-lying elements of current ideological, political, social and cultural confrontations in the region. All that considered I wholeheartedly support the publication of this book." - Attila Pok, Institute of History of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest"