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Learned Societies and Academic Sociability in Nineteenth-Century Transylvania

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image of East Central Europe

Proceeding on sub-state and transnational scales, the study inquires into the cultural contextualization of those marginal territories of Europe whose participation in the larger circulation of knowledge and goods had faced prolonged infrastructural, economic, and political hindrances. The author seeks an answer to the question whether such regions with unusual social fragmentation, economic backwardness, and exotic external image do still belong to the “European” realm. Comparing the divergent trajectories of local learned societies in the eastern province of the Habsburg monarchy, Transylvania, she inquires into the correlation of scholarly practice and the formation of collective identities with regard to internal and external constitutive factors, and patronage and political support from the state (or the lack of it). The essay ends with a mixed result; local practices carried the peculiarities of the immediate environment, and also the impact of a Central-European, that is, Austrian, and German academic tradition. This locality could, and indeed, did occasionally look outlandish to native critics and foreign travelers. However, at least at the level of elite culture and scholarship, this province also shared the general traits of the “Western” practice.


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