Perceptions of Others and Attitudes to European Civilization

Monika Baár

in Historians and Nationalism

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780199581184
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191722806 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Historical Monographs

Perceptions of Others and Attitudes to European Civilization

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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Chapter 9, ‘Perceptions of Others and Attitudes to European Civilization’, addresses overlapping national histories, using the examples of the Czech–German, the Polish–Lithuanian and the Romanian–Hungarian cases. The historians' attitudes to foreigners and enemies are also scrutinized, with special attention given to their views on the Jewish population, women and the role of the Jesuits in national history. Thereafter, the normative and anti‐normative attitudes to Western civilization are discussed, together with the historians' appeals to symbolic geography to locate their nation's place in Europe and the mission that the historians attributed to their nations in European history. The chapter reveals that they employed different argumentative strategies when addressing a domestic and a foreign audience and this phenomenon is called the Cyrano de Bergerac effect. When addressing their fellow patriots the historians often registered underdevelopment, whilst in narratives aimed at a foreign audience they were inclined to prioritize what they perceived as the unique traits of their societies.

Keywords: Czech–German border disputes; Polish–Lithuanian territorial disputes; Hungarian–Romanian disputes; attitudes to Jesuits; attitudes to Jews; attitudes to women; national mission; Cyrano de Bergerac effect; attitudes to Western civilization; symbolic geography

Chapter.  12771 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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