The idea of non-territorial autonomy (NTA), which aimed at separating the notions of the nation and its territory, had many ideological antecedents but was most comprehensively articulated in the works of the prominent Austrian Social Democrat Karl Renner at the turn of the twentieth century. Seemingly holding a promise of solving the problem of ethnic, linguistic, and cultural diversity in Central and Eastern Europe whilst sparing territorial borders, it quickly became, in the words of Gerald Stourzh, “tantamount" to a magic word.
This talk examined the concept of NTA as a common ideological platform shared by numerous ethnic minorities in interwar Europe, with a particular focus on Jews and Germans, who were in the vanguard of the minority rights movement during that period. The two minorities tirelessly advocated for NTA at both the municipal and parliamentary levels of their home countries, as well as internationally. Through a reflection upon the advantages and pitfalls of NTA on the example of several cases of its practical implementation during the interwar period, Marina Germane explored the limits to minorities’ cooperation in a world of nation-states.
Marina Germane is currently working on a monograph about the internationalization of minority rights and transnational minority activism during the twentieth century. From December 2019 to January 2023, she was a postdoctoral research fellow at the ERC-funded project Non-Territorial Autonomy as Minority Protection in Europe based at the Institute for East European History at the University of Vienna.