After approximately 500,000 widely varied, hardly developed ideas, none of which particularly excited, I think I have finally come up with two potential focusses for my project, which is fortunate given the impending presentation and proposal deadline. Having originally been researching the Prague Spring and immigration patterns resulting from this, I had been doing some background research on Czechoslovakia, in particular the political situation in the aftermath of the creation of the state. Here the presence of the ‘German Social Democrat Workers Party in the Czechoslovak Republic’ interested me: the activity of a political party specifically catering for one nationality’s interests within the borders of a separate nation state highlights how the framework of the nation state is insufficient when considering areas where national boundaries are regularly changed. Czechoslovakia was a hugely heterogenous area, and a cohesive sense of a ‘Czechoslovak national identity’ didn’t exist, with Germans outnumbering Slovaks. There were huge economic disparities between regions but this was the only one of the successor states in which democracy flourished in the interwar period. The presence of several parties in Czechoslovakia representing national interests outside of the nation itself enjoying popular support and yet the democratic system flourishing within is I believe worth further study. However from here I came across another potential avenue for my project. Looking for potential institutions and sources to start my research from, I moved from looking at the German Social Democrat Workers Party in the Czechoslovak Republic to the international organisation ‘Labour and Socialist International.’ This got me looking at the relations between various working class parties around Europe, in particular at comparative studies between the German Social Democrats and the British Labour Party. Much of (at least on the anglophone side) the analysis of the relation between these two has been of how much the British Labour Party has been shaped by the Social Democrats. I think there is room here to look at a potentially reciprocal relationship, or to look at the impact of international collectives of political parties and their influence on various Labour parties in the early post First World War period. Obviously there is quite a divergence here between my first and second ideas, although there may end up being some way to reconcile them. Overall my feelings are that sources will be far easier to find on my second idea due to the larger historiography that exists of British and German political parties, and due to the language difficulty of finding sources in Czech, although I feel my first idea might be more rewarding due to its more original angle.
The Small Beginnings of my Transnational Project