Both in the past and the present, the area of East and Southeast Europe is and has been defined by the close relations within the region itself and between the region and other parts of the world. These relations impact on the region in a variety of ways. The particularities of East and Southeast Europe in comparison to other parts of the continent also originate from the region’s specific ties to areas beyond Europe (for example between Russia and Central and East Asia or between the Balkans – from a historical perspective – and the Middle East). Focusing on the network of relationships and ties also sheds a light on path dependences: do transfers lead to more convergence? Or are they rather a factor in the reproduction of divergence? Or can no interconnection whatsoever be detected? Conversely, the question arises as to which factors and constellations enable or obstruct certain forms of exchange. This is not only about cross-border exchange, but also about interactions within national entities. Therefore, the geographic scope, the interactions and the specific relevance of exchange relationships need to be empirically ascertained.
These relationships interact with inner-societal institutions and are based on concrete interests, experiences and ideas. Transfer processes have an influence on institutions, but also bring about new institutions. This interdependence between the interweaving and establishment of institutions is analyzed on the basis of selected issues. In doing so, we wish to contribute to a nuanced understanding of the position East and Southeast Europe occupies in the world and of the manifestations of globalization processes in the region. The focus lies on two mutually interacting phenomena that are of key importance to societal and economic change in the region: migration and trade. In both cases, the underlying knowledge systems and the changes they have undergone as a result of migration and trade are investigated.
External and Internal Migration
East and Southeast Europe form a region of particularly intense external and internal migration, both in the past and present. The region can even serve as a veritable laboratory for analyzing the central issues of migration research from the perspectives of history and the social sciences. The Institute runs concrete projects studying the causes of migration, the factors necessitating and impacting migration, and the sociocultural and economic consequences of migration. Furthermore, political attempts to control migration, as well as societal perceptions of problems, are analyzed (projects: “Dynamics and Effects of Overseas Migration from Southeast Europe in the 19th and 20th Century”; „Migration policy in Yugoslavia and Muslim emigration to Turkey, 20th century"; “Migration and Remittances in Central Asia: The Case of Kazakhstan and Tajikistan”; “Life (Dis)Satisfaction and the Intention to Migrate: Evidence from Central and Eastern Europe”). In order to explain the concrete consequences of migration for institutional arrangements and the associated knowledge systems, it is necessary to take a look at the perceptions, patterns of action, and social spheres of experience of concrete individuals (projects: “Donauwörth – Zurich – Aarau – Kazan’: The Life’s Journey of Franz Xaver Bronner, 1758–1850”; “‘Russian’ Female Doctors at German Universities, 1873–1918”; “Transnational Concepts for Bessarabia After 1917”).
The analysis of trade focuses on the interactions between economic exchange on the one hand, and the development of political, societal and economic institutions on the other. The leading research questions, from an economic point of view, are:
- How do trade patterns come about?
- How are trade partners selected?
- How does technical knowledge influence the exchange of ideas, specialization and the division of labor?
- What repercussions do foreign trade structures have on the economic and political development of individual countries?
(Projects: “Interdependences Between Trade Patterns and Institutional Change Using the Concrete Example of the Enforceability of Contracts Prior to and After the Transformation”; “Modeling of Trade- and Environment-Policy Measures and Their Efficiency and Distribution Effects”; “Sectoral and Operational Effects of Trade and Investment Flows Between East and West Europe in the Course of Globalization”). The Institute’s history projects aim at the detailed analysis of the concrete bodies involved in trade relations:
- What interests did these institutions and actors they pursue? What restrictions and opportunities did they perceive?
- What role did their knowledge play?
- How did their actions change institutional configurations?
(Projects: “The Spheres of Mercantile Life Between the Carpathian Mountains and the Black Sea Prior to the Founding of National States”; “Interdependences Between Country-Specific Attempts at Socialist Economic Reforms and Integration Efforts in the CMEA”).