Baltic History after 24 February 2022 - The Charm of Transnational Peripheries?




After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz spoke in the Bundestag debate on 27 February 2022 of a “turning point in time” (“Zeitenwende”), referring to the foreign and domestic, economic and socio-political consequences that would be experienced in Europe. The “turning point” also had a particular impact on the various states in East Central and Eastern Europe, especially those that had formerly been part of the Soviet Union. These, but also the other states of the former Eastern Bloc, which are now part of the EU and also partly of NATO, are faced with the necessity of redefining their relationship with each other, with the EU and NATO, but also with the Russian Federation and Belarus. However, this buzzword also concerns Eastern European and East Central European studies. The Russian annexation of Crimea and the beginning of the war in Eastern Ukraine in 2014 already posed numerous challenges to Eastern European studies, not least because expertise on Ukraine was scarce. Historical research on East Central Europe is not unaffected by this Zeitenwende; it faces numerous challenges, such as the—hopefully—temporary inaccessibility of Ukrainian archives and libraries and, above all, the problem of whether these institutions in the Russian Federation will be accessible to non-Russian researchers at all after the war. However, the war will also have a long-term impact on the research agenda of Eastern (Central) European historians in the region. The contributions in the Forum section will therefore reflect a range of perspectives and assessments from the region and also from colleagues elsewhere. The ZfO/JECES editors are aware that these contributions to the discussion can only represent a certain “interme#diate state” and will reflect tendencies of the current turning point in Eastern European research. However, we hope, that they will provide important impulses for further reflection on the self-perception of historians of Eastern (Central) Europe and for the reconfiguration of the historiography of this European region.

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