The Idea of Central Europe

  • Matthew Christopher Kolasa (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesPresentation


“Tell me your central Europe and I will tell you who you are,” wrote historian Timothy Garton Ash in 1999. Central Europe has evolved over time as a social, cultural, and political concept in the imaginations of citizens of the region and outside observers. The term’s evolution has seen distinct phases, from German concepts of Mitteleuropa, to the struggle to escape the Kremlin’s sphere of influence, to an aspiration toward joining the EU and the league of advanced western economies. Even the region’s borders have evolved. In recent years, Central Europe has developed a new definition based on yet another political idea. Parties on the right in countries like Poland and Hungary have sought to distinguish their nations from Western Europe by asserting a politically, culturally, and socially distinct identity. Observers have variously called this change a defense of European values and assertion of sovereign rights or called it an excuse to turn away from EU membership obligations or even from liberal democracy. This paper traces the history of Central Europe as a concept and unravels the paradoxes of the region’s evolving self-perception as a bloc and complex relationship with the European project as a region between east and west.
Period5 Oct 2019
Event titleInternational Studies Association South Annual Conference 2019
Event typeConference
LocationMemphis, United States, TennesseeShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Central Europe
  • Europe
  • European Union
  • Geopolitics
  • Great Powers
  • Ideology
  • Hungary
  • Poland
  • Czech Republic
  • Slovakia
  • Visegrád
  • Russia
  • Regionalism
  • Populism
  • History