Decolonizing the Non-Colonizers? I: Placing Eastern Europe within the Global History of Colonialism

Type: Virtual Paper
Theme: Ethnonationalism and Exclusion Around the World
Sponsor Groups:
Poster #:
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM (PST)
Room: Virtual 42
Organizers: Jonathan McCombs, Zoltan Ginelli
Chairs: Jonathan McCombs


Recent research has aimed to highlight and comprehend the role of Eastern Europe within the global world system, much of which has focused on the semi-peripheral position of Eastern European countries. The relative continuity of the structural position of Eastern Europe over the longue durée, despite shifting state formations and governmental logics, forces researchers to grapple with the complex history of the region within the colonial project. Historically, the various nation-states of the region never held significant colonies, yet their semi-peripheral position has nonetheless contributed knowledge, material resources, and peoples to western powers’ colonial ambitions. The advent of state-socialism in Eastern Europe reconfigured these relations considerably, but did little to change the structural position of Eastern Europe within the larger world system. This is evidenced by the continued dependence of western capital on Eastern European labor through the socialist period. Simultaneously, socialist governments leveraged their relative positions of privilege to aid third-world, decolonial movements as part and parcel of the larger Soviet-led communist project. The collapse of socialist governments beginning in 1989 inaugurated a “return to Europe,” where Eastern European countries were made integral to the expansion of the European Union. The now hegemonic liberalism of the European project has been theorized itself as the extension of neo-colonial relations into the post-socialist world. These neo-colonial relations have provided fertile ground for nationalist parties and governments to win popular support on a political agenda that pits the national interest against a ‘globalist,’ EU-led colonialism.

We aim to convene a session that situates the broader decolonial project within an Eastern European context. We hold the position that Eastern European politics must be decolonized before a more emancipatory political project can unfold. This means grappling with the complexity of Eastern Europe’s semi-peripheral position within the larger world system—as both an object of and facilitator to colonial social relations. Specifically, we seek to address the meaning of the historical, semi-peripheral ‘in-betweenness’ of Eastern Europe as both dependent upon larger, mostly western capital networks, and also purveyors of European colonialism.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Andreja Mesaric*, , Slovene missionaries in Sudan and North America: The repercussions of their work in mid-19th century Carniola and present-day Slovenia 15 9:35 AM
Presenter Adomas Narkevicius*, , The formation of the Lithuanian ethnic ‘type’: The case of Povilas Višinskis’ ethnographic photography 15 9:50 AM
Presenter Zoltan Ginelli*, Independent Researcher, Semiperipheral Hungary in Global Colonialism 15 10:05 AM
Discussant Lea Nienhoff University Basel 15 10:20 AM

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