ISHA Budapest offers these following workshops at the 30th Annual Conference 2019 “Recycle History”:

  • 1. Teaching History – How to Cope With the Latest Challenges?
  • 2. A Troublesome Concept – the Past, Present and Future of National Self-Determination
  • 3. Retelling Empire – Possibilities and Limits of the “Imperial Turn” in Cultural History
  • 4. Recycling the Past – Use and Re-use of History and Memory in Making Cultural Heritage
  • 5. History and Environment
  • 6. Anthropological Resources in Historical Practice
  • 7. Slums, Boulevards, Palaces: Recycle Urban History
  • 8. Shifting Narratives and What to Do With Them


1. Teaching History – How to Cope With the Latest Challenges?

Workshop leaders: Noémi Tóth (ELTE) and Ádám Egry (ELTE)

History is one of the oldest disciplines, it has been part of education for centuries. However, when it comes to actual History-teaching, a strange contradiction appears.  History is often regarded as something rigid and constant, while the forms of education are perpetually changing. Most students (and their families, too) seem to agree on these two statements. Therefore, we, History teachers need to come up with some kind of methodological answer to the challenges of our accelerated world and bring History closer to our students. Despite public opinion, History is not just storytelling, but serious  research, it is about looking for connections, thorough examination and the comparison of historical sources from a critical point of view. How can we teach this in public education, though? How can History teachers design a lesson that is interactive, exciting and also fits the curriculum? In what way can (and should) modern technology be used effectively in History-teaching? Which of the old teaching methods can be recycled to serve a new purpose? At our workshop, we are trying to search for answers to such questions by coming up with our own examples, ideas, even some controversial debates. Our goal is to invent and discuss plenty of useful and applicable methods by the end of the week.

2. A Troublesome Concept – the Past, Present and Future of National Self-Determination

Workshop leaders: Bari Bence (CEU) and Dušan Ljuboja (ELTE)

The workshop will focus on the ambiguous concept of national self-determination. When it comes to the period defined by the border dates of 1919 and 1989, the notion was remarkably important from various aspects as it became widespread during the First World War and as a consequence, played an important role in the establishment of the Versailles state system. Furthermore, it slowly became not only the watch-word, but also a fundamental right of international law. As such, self-determination had severe connections to the debates concerning the re-configurations of the contemporary order both inside (1919, revisionism in the inter-war period, 1989) and outside of Europe (decolonization).

On the other hand, the concept has had no united definition up to date. Consequently, it allows diverse understandings and parallel or even intertwined uses with other notions (sovereignty, secession, autonomy, democratic representation) in various contexts. In fact, it also has its importance many times as a counter-concept: for example, Andre Liebich argues in his article Minority as Inferiority for the development of a dichotomy between ’self-determination’ and ’minority rights’ If one associates the meaning of the former as ‘independence’, it becomes clear that international politics do not allow the exercise of this right by all communities. Those excluded from this bear the rights connected to the status of ‘minority’ – which, however, is satisfactory to none and consolidates the disadvantaged status of the latter.

It is expected that the participants of the workshop would deal with European or non-European national case studies in their presentations, much preferably in conversation with the already mentioned problematics. In line with the watchwords of the conference, it is expected that our workshop would deal with self-determination as a recurring theme throughout its historical existence, drawing parallels between its uses in various cases. Thus, it will be of our interests how certain individuals would treat it as recurring idea, what the historical reference-points of national self-determination would be and how it appears again and again in historical sources. While the target period would naturally be the one between 1919–1989, the conceptual history and connections of self-determination allow us to welcome presentations on previous periods or the contemporary era. (E. g. the conceptualization of self-determination in the 18th century, its uses in the 19th century etc.) Besides the presentations, we will dedicate a session to the conceptual history of self-determination in the form of a group discussion based on readings and an introducing lecture by the workshop leader.

3. Retelling Empire – Possibilities and Limits of the “Imperial Turn” in Cultural History

Workshop leaders: Lucija Balikić (CEU) and Miklós Tömöry (ELTE)

The usage of the term “empire” and its derived attribute “imperial” has been experiencing a significant rise in recent historiography. The so-called “imperial turn” is not only applied to the study of political history, but to a much wider range of historiographical subjects. Historiography related to this current stresses the impact of imperialism on early modern and modern culture as well as literature, fine arts, architecture, but also mentality, gender relations etc. – on all systems of meanings, to paraphrase the definition of culture by Clifford Geertz.

Although the nation as a historical phenomenon was formerly often seen as some kind of an antithesis of the empire, recent research focuses on the immanence of the imperial experience or imperial intentions in the process of nation building (as Pieter Judson recently pointed out) i.e. in creating a homogeneous national culture.

Imperial turn in cultural history can also be defined through the emergence of research on sub-, supra- and transnational entities (e.g. historical regions), the heritage of which can be interpreted in the imperial context; for instance, Vojvodina (in Serbia), Banat (in Romania, Serbia and Hungary), Bukovina and Galicia (in Romania and the Ukraine), or larger entities such as the Balkans and Central Europe. The “imperial” scope also allows us to formulate new research problems, such as the phenomenon of national indifference, recently formulated by Tara Zahra.

During the workshop we intend to explore the relative force, but also the limits of research on imperial culture. Thus, we welcome topics related, but not limited to:

  • The imperial cultures of maritime (e.g. British, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch) and continental empires (e.g. Habsburg Monarchy, Prussian Empire, Russian Empire, Ottoman Empire) in the early modern and modern period
  • Soviet Union and the imperial turn in historiography about it, as well as readings of its culture as imperial culture
  • Postcolonial or post-imperial transitions and nation-building
  • Imperial culture in historical regions and transnational frames in general
  • Usage of imperial culture in the national(ist) project of the interwar period or during the regime changes of 1989
  • (Re)appropriation of imperial symbols or discourses in various (contemporary or historical) contexts

4. Recycling the Past – Use and Re-use of History and Memory in Making Cultural Heritage

Workshop leaders: Lilla Zámbó (ELTE-EHESS) and Dorottya Bartha (ELTE)

The aim of this workshop is to explore the relation between History and Cultural Heritage and to study different examples of use and re-use of history and memory in making cultural heritage and identities.

In the last few decades, one has not only been witnessing the expansion of the notion of Cultural Heritage (CH), its omnipresence (European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018) and institutionalization (UNESCO World Heritage Centre), but also its key role in current identity formation and growing importance in social scientific and historical discourses. Even though, History and CH both use the Past to create contemporary (and future) identities, the latter seems to be gradually replacing the former and letting other social actors telling the past. This recent phenomenon urges us to determine the position of CH vs History and heritage-making vs history-writing. For this reason, we start this workshop with the presupposition that historians should consider (the evolution of) cultural heritage as historical problem and suitable subject of a historical and social scientific research.

First, we suggest studying the conceptual expansion of cultural heritage in recent decades, the new “presentist” perception of time (Francois Hartog), the theoretical framework in which it has been conceptualized and also the paradigm shift took place in its protection and management. Then we will discuss the results of intensified (interdisciplinary) research, new European policies (and eventual personal experiences), which have been pointing out that there are different and often conflicting use of and claims on CH and also alarming practices of identity formation. According to Gábor Sonkoly and Tanja Vahtikai: “ideally CH is supposed to lead to integration and democratization, however it can also bear a non-critical use of the past in a society. Since the conceptual expansion and institutionalisation of cultural heritage did not always adhere to the critical standards of the Social Sciences and Humanities, current populist and xenophobic identity formations may apply it to avoid scientific control and the reflective interpretations of the past”.

For this reason, our role as historians and representatives of Social Sciences and Humanities is essential in these identity formations and our critical and reflective tradition is a great asset. Consequently, this workshop is focused on the critical analysis of examples for use and re-use of history, places of memory, remembrance in heritage-making, thus identity building procedures on different levels (from local to universal levels). Participants are invited to present case studies that are determining the reference points of belonging, remembering and even recycling the past. Topics are welcomed, but not limited to tangible, intangible, natural, cultural, urban and rural sites and entities, such as monuments, festivals, food, or historic urban landscapes.

Participants will also participate in a city walk on the World Heritage sites of Budapest, by giving an insight to its problematic and complex use/reuse, interpretation/reinterpretation throughout the last decades until nowadays.

Relevant texts and sources will be distributed in advance.



5. History and Environment

Workshop leaders: Dániel Molnár (ELTE) and Szabina Gáva (ELTE)

In a seminar called Recycling (in) History it was almost inevitable to give some ground for a topic that became a very important and popular issue in recent years. As climate change is virtually here, the relations of humans to nature and environment became a center of interest.

But was it always like this? In this workshop, we intend to find it out. Here we are looking for topics, presentations, examples about the relations of humans, civilizations and nature and environment. We are not explicitly searching for topics on historical geography and topography (how resources, water, mountains, etc. affected society), but more abstract approaches. Just to list  a few examples:

  • How “Nature” was imagined, depicted through history? How this changed?
  • How were people thinking about the relation of their environment and themselves?
  • Nature vs industry: was it always an issue? How industry and technology were related to nature and environment through history? And what about agriculture?
  • Gardens, parks, public spaces – bringing nature back to the everyday life of towns and homes.
  •  “Back to nature” – the cults of “natural” life.
  • “Artificial nature” – from artificial lakes to experimental “Biospheres”.
  • The history of various organisations for environmental protection, and environmental protection in general.

6. Anthropological Resources in Historical Practice

Workshop leaders: Mirjam Varga (ELTE) and Árpád Bayer (ELTE)

Historians are conditioned for written sources. But what is beyond them? How can you discover social structures and historical processes from non-written sources? We will discover and analyse different anthropological and ethnographical sources. What does the folk culture say to historians? We try to find the answer, and for this we get as deep in methodology as it is possible.

The forms of folk culture are everywhere all over the world: the “Grimm-tales” are world-wide known, Bavarian clothes are recognizable almost everywhere, the Balkan music is unique and popular, and the Hungarian “Táncház” movement still motivates many young people. You can bring your own national specialities that we can practice and analyse as a resource. It is much more than history: we will hire methods from social sciences. We plan to organize an extremely useful and interactive workshop!

7. Slums, Boulevards, Palaces: Recycle Urban History

Workshop leaders: Hanna Mezei (ELTE) and Patrik Németh (ELTE)

What is a town exactly? What does such a settlement consist of?
Does it mainly exist by its physical appearance, by its horse-shoe shaped boulevards, main thoroughfares, rectangular squares and statues? Does a ’town’ mean the mental attitude of its dwellers towards its parks, pubs and noisy markets? Is it in the way how locals love boasting about its spectacular edifices, world-famous cuisine and unique culture?

Town is an ever-changing definition. In the case of antique towns, historians consider a polis as the body of citizens.  In the medieval context, we tend to think of towns as a castle, a church and a market square surrounded by fortifications, and just rarely set down the importance of royal privileges. Also, historians dealing with the 18th-19th century emphasised the fact that towns are centres for trades. Consequently, if we draw a circle around the dependant villages, the importance of the town can be measured by counting the number of the inner settlements. Thus, we are able to make statistics for comparison.

Towns, in many aspects, were structured into their current forms throughout the 19th century. How would Vienna or Paris look like without the Ringstraße or the Boulevard St-Michel?  This century was the heyday for town improvements, restructuration works and urban planning. These endeavours were often entwined with the establishment of the liberal, caring state. Tenements were not only built to be dwelling places for citizens, but also to embellish the town’s urban landscape. Reconstruction works were often connected to social issues, for instance after developing the sewage system, slums immediately started to shrink in almost every European city.

We would like to research the problems these changes were meant to solve, their legal background and where these ideas were adopted from.  As urban planning was often a target of propaganda, the process was frequently supervised by the head of state and the nationalist politicians to emphasise the certain power and prosperity of the empire or the state.  

We intend to review the connections between urban planning and the current forms of towns, between urban design and social or religious segregation and the conjunction of politics and the utilization of urban spaces. If you want to participate in a walk around the town, both in a concrete and a virtual way, this workshop is meant for you! Do you know an interesting street or any kind of church or square in a town which you are somehow linked with? Would you like to retell the story of an important area or statue or even a plaque from your city? Then submit your topic as a case study to us, and we will discuss it by following the above-mentioned aspects.

8. Shifting Narratives and What to Do With Them

Workshop leaders: Nicole Hanisch (Freie Universität Berlin), Eric Jeswein (Humboldt Universität zu Berlin) and Tamara Pataki (Freie Universität Berlin)

Singular historical events are often portrayed or understood very differently over time.

On the face of it, this is a trivial insight. Despite the exhortations of historians to write history “sine ira et studio” (without anger and passion), historiography is always shaped by the prejudices, assumptions and preferences of its authors. Max Weber argued as early as 1904, that the perspectives of historians are dependent on their research questions, concepts and their experiences in their own lifetimes.

 As students, we have to raise these questions every time we encounter secondary literature: How does the narrative of a historical event reflect the time period it was written in? How do narratives change? How do they represent the socio-cultural position of the historian, and his or her outlook on what history should “be about”? In this workshop we want to discuss questions like these and reflect on what a student can do when confronted by shifting or changing narratives during their education. We first will engage in a discussion on the basis of both theoretical Text, like that of Max Weber and introductory literature for example from John Tosh. Then we will look at case studies to learn how to assess secondary sources critically. Here, the engagement of the participants is needed, as they will choose the examples we will discuss.

 This workshop has an introductory character and is therefore aimed at students early in their studies or those, who wish to discuss methodological questions of secondary literature criticism. The overarching goal is to focus on formal aspects of historical research: how to write an abstract, how to give a presentation, how to discuss presentations and give constructive feedback to your peers. The workshop leaders will get in touch with you ahead of the seminar, so that we can provide you with help and feedback in choosing your topic, preparing your abstract and presentation