Vicious and Virtuous Circles in the Rural Economy of East European Borderlands (19th-20th Century)

Monday, 8 April 2019, 4:00pm - 5:30pm, IWM library
The borderlands of Eastern Europe, that is the territories on the edges of the three empires Austro-Hungarian, Tsarist and Ottoman, remained predominantly rural in character well into the 20th century. As late as 1960 up to 40% of the population in the region still lived and worked in the countryside. The social history of the region is thus inevitably the history of the rural communities that inhabited this space and this history is a mixture of development and underdevelopment. Poverty and wealth coexisted side-by-side begging the question of what propelled some rural communities forward into the 20th century and why others still retained an outlook and cultivation techniques that harked back to the Middle Ages.

This presentation will provide a cross-border comparison between rural communities in the borderlands of Austria-Hungary, Tsarist Russia and the Balkan fringes of the Ottoman Empire. The aim is that of hammering out an explanatory framework that would account for disparities in modernization, innovation absorption and social agency, starting from factors such as the initial terms of peasant emancipation, legal framework, the edge given by historical privilege and, conversely, the long shadow of serfdom in the form of renewed dependence and neoserfdom.

Irina Marin holds a PhD in History from University College London and has taught and researched at SSEES/UCL, Oxford University, University of Leicester and the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies. Currently she is a EURIAS Junior Visiting Fellow at the IWM.

Comments by Rolf Bauer
(Lecturer, University of Vienna)

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