Odessa Conference, 2019

Call for Papers:

“Between Dependency and Independency of Academic Cultures. The Interwar Black Sea Region”

Conference organized by

Odessa I. I. Mechnikov National University


2, Dvoryanska, Odessa, Ukraine, 65082.

4 – 5 October 2019


Download CfP

Deadline for submission of abstracts: 15.06.2019


Frame & aim

When the transfer of modern sciences to and the study of the Black Sea Region (BSR) began in the late 18th century, this area was not yet considered part of Europe. Because of the fact that the BSR has not been conceived as a historical region before the onset of the post-socialist transition period, a systematic investigation of knowledge and culture exchange as well as of academic cultures within and beyond the region is completely missing.

The conference seeks to open the floor for debates on forms of knowledge exchange and academic cultures within the BSR and beyond in the interwar period. It aims at investigating the interrelations of the geopolitical transformation of the BSR after WW I and knowledge and cultural exchanges between and within the region and Western Europe in a time of complex imperial and post-imperial relations. This complexity was established, among others, by the results of WWI and the wars immediately after, by the establishment of the League of Nations, the influence of the European Great Powers on international scientific and cultural exchange processes, the establishment of new scientific fields such as the study of races and eugenics, and the increasing inclusion of women in national as well as international research programs. The role of the League of Nations has to be underlined because of its efforts to include scientific exchange to the establishment of a new blueprint for lasting peace in Europe and in the world. Beyond that, the role of Germany has to be emphasized. The country and its former allies (Austria, Hungary, Turkey, and Bulgaria) was banned from attending international conferences and was excluded from the exchange of scholars and students. However, Germany regained cultural, economic and political power in the region after the ban was lifted and the Great Depression brought the countries of the region close to (Nazi-)Germany. Besides Germany, especially France, but also Great Britain and Italy, belonged to the big players in international scientific exchange. We have also to take into consideration that also the Soviet Union for years was banned from international scientific exchange by the League of Nations with long lasting impacts on the empire’s scientific culture.

We invite to discuss the complex interrelations between science on a macro and micro level, where exchange can become complicated even within a single department if it comes to negotiation processes or conflicts about the hegemony of scholars and concepts in a certain discipline. This complexity multiplies if it comes to interactions with additional elements of the micro level and the macro level. Because of a new quality of dense communication in the 20th century, interactions between the two levels have become intensive at the stage of investigation. Current research emphasizes a plurality of macro-historical and micro-historical transfer and interaction processes. Therefore, the question comes into foreground whether the exchange of knowledge and science can be delimited at all from general cultural exchange processes, including fashion, music, and cinema for instance, and theories. Does the exchange of knowledge in science merely constitute a subgroup of more general cultural exchange or does it have unique features?



With this conference, we would like to invite scholars to contribute to a first systematic research of this issue from different scholarly disciplines in the humanities interested in themes including (but not limited to):

  • Theoretical considerations aiming to explain specific exchange relations between Western Europe and the post-imperial Black Sea Region of the Balkans (centre-periphery relations for instance)
  • The entanglement of non-scientific and scientific knowledge and its distribution
  • The emerging transformation of traditional knowledge systems to information societies
  • The interaction and contradiction between science and religions
  • The reception of western science by Islam and Orthodox Churches in the BSR
  • The role of the League of Nations for the establishment of an international new scientific culture and the BSR countries’ reactions to it
  • The increasing role of women and of women’s movements in interwar science and science exchange
  • The role of women’s movements at universities and in academic cultures
  • France’s, Great Britain’s, Germany’s and Italy’s cultural and science policies in the BSR countries
  • Academic and students’ exchange programs of France, Great Britain, Italy and Germany
  • Austria’s, Bulgaria’s, Germany’s, Hungary’s, and Turkey’s exclusion from international scientific exchange as consequence of the Great War
  • International scientific conferences, their cultural and political aims and the BSR countries’ participation in them
  • The impact of the Balkan Entente (Greece, Romania, Turkey, and Yugoslavia) on scientific and cultural collaboration
  • Germany as increasing factor in scientific exchange with BSR countries in and after the Great Depression
  • The uneven distribution of research potentials in economically uneven countries
  • Dominant international research concepts in certain disciplines, especially in archaeology, eugenics, study of races, and ethnology
  • Language and literary studies, ethnology and ethnography, and the study of races as nation- and minority-oriented disciplines
  • Field research and participant observation as new methods in ethnology and ethnography – the increasing role of photographic documentation
  • Field research and participant observation as new methods in ethnology and ethnography – the ‘West’ discovers the ‘East’ and vice versa
  • The institutional and administrative structures of science in the interwar period
  • The role of scholarly work in times of dictatorship and censorship
  • The role of Russian emigration communities in the exchange of knowledge
  • The role of German and Austrian scientific emigration communities to Turkey for Turkish universities and research institutions
  • The role of emigration communities with Jewish background from Nazi-Germany in BSR countries
  • The role of translations into languages of the BSR – the reasons for specific text selections and the role of translators and interpreters
  • The integration and contribution of BSR countries to the emerging Soviet academic system
  • The role of BSR countries for the Soviet Academy of Sciences
  • The Soviet academic system and its language policy The introduction and omission of certain foreign languages on different levels of education
  • The dominance and omission of particular languages in knowledge and science exchange


There is no fee for participation in the conference, but the organizers do unfortunately not have the possibility to cover the participants’ expenses for travel and accommodation. English will serve as the main conference language. Please send 300-word proposals for 20-minute papers along with a short academic CV to Dr Yana Volkova (volkova.yana@onu.edu.ua) and Dr Dominik Gutmeyr (dominik.gutmeyr@uni-graz.at) no later than 15 June 2019. The organisers aim to let you know within three weeks after the deadline whether your proposal has been accepted.

A selection of papers presented at the conference will be published in a special volume in 2020.

The conference is organized within the project “Knowledge Exchange and Academic Cultures in the Humanities. Europe and the Black Sea Region”, an MSCA-RISE-project funded by the European Commission. Further information may be found on www.blacksearegion.eu



Dr Yana Volkova

Odessa I.I. Mechnikov National University

Faculty of International Relations, Political Science and Sociology

2, Dvoryanska, Odessa, Ukraine, 65082.