Friday, 31 March 2023 to Sunday, 2 April 2023

Bosnia-Herzegovina: The Habsburg Colony (1878-1918)

Fri31  Mar02:30pm(15 mins)
James Watt South Room 361


Krisztián Csaplár-Degovics1
1 Research Centre for the Humanities , Hungary


Historians have struggled to interpret the colonial status of Bosnia-Herzegovina, especially historians in the successor states, because the Habsburg Empire itself officially denied the idea of any colonization, the provinces were not treated as colonies by public law, and the political elites of the successor states were also dismissive about this idea. The Habsburg past of the provinces has been interpreted in the frame of post-colonial theories, but interpretations remained tentative about the colonial nature of Habsburg rule. The uneasiness has to do with uncertainties concerning the concepts and their definitions used to analyze Habsburg colonial past.

This paper argues that MPs in the Hungarian subembire, both opposition and government, unanimously thought of Bosnia-Herzegovina as a colony between 1878-1918. The analysis of public debates on colonization demonstrates that MPs possessed and applied the necessary political concepts to define and talk about colonization, without most of them having any knowledge of the colonial practices in overseas empires and their legitimization in international law. However, these political concepts had clear East-European origins and had nothing to do with their transatlantic counterparts. These debates on the colonization of Bosnia-Herzegovina also demonstrate how a change in perspective took place in Hungary at the turn of century and how the Hungarian Kingdom started to be conceptualized as an empire