Denomination and questions of identity in the light of the collective symbols in the 15th-19th century Ottoman-Christian border regions

One key topic in recent years around the world was “national spatial memory” and how that connects to national symbolism. With the constellation of some elements this symbolism has transformed into national myths. The re-evaluation of the past is always orientated towards the future. Should political actors of any age wish to legitimate or undermine rule or power relations, one important question is what kind of historical symbolism and intellectual models they can mobilize, and for what purpose. Remembrance events which are “staked out” (to use Jan Assmann’s term) by the group are events highlighted from history, which in turn create the individual’s identity through their relationship with the group.

The group’s efforts are aimed at clarifying the early modern continuity of 19th-century elements of consciousness in the former border regions, which continues to strongly influence nations living there now and their conceptual systems. The concept of the nation, its associated topos, the biblical view of history are not just significant forms of the cultural history of the age, but the basic elements of collective identity and collective memory as well. Many historians place the first period of the development of national consciousness in the 16th century. It is supposed that societies belonging to the early generation of nations have preserved features which distinguish them from nations coming to a linguistic and cultural self-consciousness during the Enlightenment. In what way can the behaviours associated with various Christian denominations be related to changes in the European history of ideas? How do they relate to the emerging national consciousness, is there a political motive? Is it linked to a national messianism? The research group is newly founded; the first outcomes of its work are expected to be released in late 2016.