Phantom borders
in Central Eastern Europe

Topic: Phantom borders in Central Eastern Europe. Vertical Europe. Borders and limits in the east-west-divisions of Europe in the 19th and 20th century.

Duration: 2013- 2016

Project coordinator: dr Catherine Gousseff EHESS, Paris,  dr Thomas Serrier Université Paris 8.

Project partners: prof. UAM dr hab. Beata Halicka opracowująca temat: Flüsse als „natürliche Grenzen“ – das Erbe des europäischen Nationalismus am Beispiel vom Rhein, der Oder und Weichsel.

Project partners: EHESS, Paris, Université Paris 8, Centre Marc Bloch in Berlin, Europa-Universit ät Viadrina Frankfurt/Oder, Univeritäten in Basel, Giesen, München, Leipzig, Pittsburgh, Poznań.

Project co-funded by Brandenburg Ministry of Sciences, Research and Cultural Affairs 


The border along the rivers Odra and Neisse has existed for nearly seventy years. As a result of forced migration, significant changes in the social structure occurred on both sides of the Odra after 1945. The newly emerging border society had to face rapid and profound political, social and cultural changes and eventually was separated by a partly impermeable boundary. However, it was not a barrier that hindered people from social networking and cultural exchange. The aim of the project is to examine how cross-neighborly relations finally developed and how they affected the identity building of communities within the region on both sides of the Odra. A decisive question will be: Which factors affect the process of forming/creating identity and how is identity constructed?

The project brings together scientists in the fields of cultural studies, history and sociology in order to provide answers to these and further questions. This interdisciplinary approach may also serve as a methodological model for border studies focusing on other regions (for example studies on the Polish-Ukrainian, the Polish-Russian, the German-Czech, and also the US-Mexican or South-North Korean border regions). While this project is meant to prepare an application for research funding, it will also lay the foundations for an interdisciplinary research group uniting scientists from the EUV and the UAM, all working in the framework of several sub-projects. This research group is based at the Polish-German Research Institute under the roof of the Collegium Polonicum in Słubice. A conference and various workshops in cooperation with our project partners are projected in 2014.