Two Comparative Studies on the Formation of Civic Society in Nineteenth-century East-Central European Towns and Changes to the Historical Narrative

Authors

BERESNĚVIČIÚTÉ NOSÁLOVÁ Halina

Type Chapter of a book
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Citation
Description The article analyses the Czech historians' project on the communal elites in nineteenth-century Moravian towns and the book by Rüdiger Ritter on the civic activities in the musical public life in Warsaw and Vilnius until 1939. It focuses on the historical narratives in those works and their relations to nationalist and Marxist narratives. The two studies on civil societies in different regions have some common features. Both appreciated national and religious tolerance, the skills for self-organisation as well as the readiness for consensus. They opposed in this way the nationalist narratives. They illustrate that the introduction of the civil society theme provoked the bulk of literature on the multi-ethnic past of the towns. However, the theoretical themes transferred from the workshops of Western intellectuals found a curious symbiosis with Marxist narrative, which takes the perspective from "below" when "recognisisng" which social milieu was what, which social actors were progressive and which social development was forward. This narrative tendency instrumentalised the synekdoche of "embourgeoisment", with the help of which the historians explained the whole of the historical process by the partial elements of social behaviour.
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