Donnerstag, 15. September 2022, 13:00 - 19:00 iCal


International Conference

Aula am Campus der Universität Wien
Spitalgasse 2-4 / Hof 1.11, 1090 Wien


Weitere Termine

Freitag, 16. September 2022, 09:30 - 17:00

Samstag, 17. September 2022, 09:30 - 12:30

‘The idea of non-territorial national autonomy, despite being widely recognised theoretically, is not acceptable in practice to those who are not used to it,’ wrote Max Laserson in a Latvian newspaper in 1922. One hundred years later, the sentiment expressed by the Latvian-Jewish parliamentarian remains largely unchanged: despite a steadily growing body of literature on NTA since the end of the 19th century to the present, practical implementations of the idea over the same period have – seemingly – remained few and far between. A closer look, however, reveals that this original idea of managing ethnic diversity in a modern state, most comprehensively articulated in the works of the Austrian Social Democrat Karl Renner at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, has received much wider practical implementation than first meets the eye. In fact, over the past hundred years, the idea of NTA – in its hybrid forms and under different guises – has travelled very far both in time and in space.

We invite scholars to tackle the question of why, then, NTA in its pure form has remained, in wide public perception, a moth-balled intellectual curiosity, rather than an actual blueprint for solving the dilemma of ethnic diversity in a world of nation-states. Is it because despite its non-territorial aspect, it has been viewed by nation-states, with invariable suspicion, as a clever prelude to more territorial demands on the part of ethnic minorities? Has perhaps the very idea of divorcing the nation from territory appeared as too counter-intuitive to warrant wider consideration by policy makers? Or is it because ethnic minorities themselves have not been convinced that NTA is enough for the successful maintenance of their cultural identity? Just how much do the chances of practical implementation of this idea depend on which ideological camp it has come from? Or does the explanation lie in the fact that NTA has often been suspected of leading to the essentialization of ethnicity? Finally, was Kant right all along in claiming that ‘when the theory did not work too well in practice, the fault lay, not in the theory, but rather in there being not enough theory’ – in other words, is the NTA theory itself overdue for an update?

The aim of our conference is to bring together scholars with a long-standing interest in NTA with a view of undertaking an energetic multidisciplinary revision of the history of the concept, from its theoretical origins and antecedents in the 19th century to actual implementations – in different forms and guises – during the 20th century; and, finally, to the traceable historical influences on current diversity arrangements. Our ultimate goal is to bridge the existing conceptual gap between theory and practice of NTA across the past 150 years, and we will endeavour to publish a special issue of a peer-reviewed journal based on the conference’s proceedings.


NTAutonomy Project , IOG

Um Anmeldung wird gebeten


Szilvia Steiner
University of Vienna
Institute for East European History