Project Project
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The Transnationalization of Struggles for Recognition – Women and Jews in France, Germany, and Poland in the 20th Century

Bozena A. Choluj
Zdzislaw Mach
Jacques Ehrenfreund
Slawomir Kapralski
2007 - 2010
Volkswagen Stiftung

Short description

Transnational struggles for recognition are based on cross-border civil society networks, which may be instrumental in overcoming nationalism and ethnocentrism. Since many decades, and particularly after the enlargement process of the European Union (EU) in 2004, the lack of unity and common identity in Europe has been widely discussed and deplored. Examining civil society networks of domestic actors, which have transcended cultural and national borders or even developed a pan-European context, can contribute valuable knowledge to enable us to better deal with the challenges of today’s Europe. Research on these networks in a historical and contemporary perspective is still a desideratum. The project aims at filling this gap with empirical research focusing on two deprived groups, women and Jews, in European 20th century history in a twofold comparison: between two time periods (1900 to 1930, and 1980s to the present) and across three countries (France, Germany, and Poland). Accordingly, the project has started acting on the following assumptions: (1) that the two selected time periods have a decisive and accelerating impact on the extent and patterns of transnational struggles for recognition; (2) that France, Germany and Poland are very appropriate for comparison because they have exhibited close but often conflicting relations, and are based on different models of nation-building; (3) that women and Jews have been particularly active in transnational networking.

Aims and Methods

The project examines processes of transnationalization with a particular focus on struggles for political, socio-economic, and cultural rights, in order to determine whether or to what extent struggles for recognition have been a pacesetter for both domestic and cross-national integration.
Research will be based on empirical, interdisciplinary analysis combining historical and social science methods. The project will focus on eight case studies and, besides the principal investigators, it will involve eight Ph.D. students of history and social science in three countries. Our aim is to build and cross bridges between the national and international levels of networking and organization, as well as to combine different disciplines and methodological frameworks in three European countries. We expect to

  • empirically deepen the description of continuities, discontinuities, and antinomies of transnationalization processes in the area of recognition of political, socio-economic and cultural rights,

  • refine and expand existing theories on transnational mobilization processes, and

  • provide deprived groups and political institutions with insights about the chances and limits of democratization and justice in the context of Europeanization.