Until the mid-twentieth century, studies of ethnicity and race were a source of an epistemological and political competition between scientific schools in Europe and the United States. As a result, ubiquitous notions developed in the post-World War I period, such as ethnic and racial differences, civilization, national character, culture areas and cultural patterns traveled across borders and time. This presentation will explore how these notions were integrated, domesticated and altered to fit into debates on a complex relationship between science, modern society and the state, and especially how they interplayed with the local-level ideas of assimilation, citizenship and patriotism on the one hand, ideological and geopolitical threats on the other. On the basis of an exhaustive use of archival sources, Olga Linkiewicz will argue that the studies of ethnicity and race which developed in interwar East Central Europe in a close relationship to the German-speaking scholarship and the Anglosphere, as well as often unacknowledged influence of the Soviet project, are intimately interconnected with early American area studies.
Olga Linkiewicz is an assistant professor at Tadeusz Manteuffel Institute of History and the Polish Academy of Sciences.