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Probing the Boundaries of the (Trans)National

Imperial Legacies, Transnational Literary Networks and Multilingualism in East Central Europe

The project explores the continuities and discontinuities of the legacy of the Habsburg Monarchy in memories, transnational literary networks and multilingual practices in East Central Europe.

About the project

Now consisting of different small nation-states, East Central Europe was for centuries part of the Habsburg Monarchy. The multinational and multilingual Habsburg Monarchy was characterized by fascinating examples of supranational identification, rich transnational literary networks, and multilingual practices. But what happens to these practices when the supranational frame falls apart?

Probing the Boundaries of the (Trans)National explores the continuities and discontinuities of the legacy of the Habsburg Monarchy in order to understand current tensions between the ideology of the nation-state, multilingualism, and forms of belonging beyond the nation in Europe today.

The project brings together an international group of historians, linguists, anthropologists, and literary scholars to explore the afterlife of the Habsburg Monarchy from an interdisciplinary perspective.


We examine

  1. how memories of the Habsburg Monarchy have been transmitted in oral narratives and in (post-)Yugoslav literature; 
  2. how transnational literary networks of Hungarian minorities transformed in the interwar and post-1989 periods;
  3. how formal and informal multilingual practices in East Central Europe developed after the creation of nation-states in 1918 and how the language situation and language policies look like today in the multiethnic regions of Vojvodina (Serbia) and Transylvania (Romania).

The methodological approach varies in each subproject, from the analysis of literary texts and the study of archives, translation and publishing practices, to qualitative ethnographic analysis (semi-structured interviews, participant observation) as used in linguistic anthropology.

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Financing and duration

The project is financed by The Research Council of Norway under the FRIPRO programme 2019-2021.

Published Jan. 19, 2018 2:16 PM - Last modified May 28, 2020 2:18 PM


Project manager

Stijn Vervaet
+ 47 22 85 6710