Imperial collapse, narratives of loss, reconfigured globalization: Trieste and Danzig after the Great War

Klaus Richter, Marco Bresciani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The article investigates the post-1918 development of the port cities of Trieste and Danzig to show how people conceived of and shaped the future of these two highly contested and volatile localities. We argue that the collapse of the continental empires was the major force that severed Central Europe’s networks with wider Europe and the world and thus initiated a conflicting process of deglobalization. This process crystallized in the profound change in the relationship of port cities and their hinterlands, as economic concepts of hinterlands were replaced by territorial concepts that interacted closely with aggressive trends of local nationalism and imperialism, but also with internationalist efforts to re-globalize the region. The article finds that Trieste and Danzig, despite sharply diverging economic trajectories, produced similar narratives of decline and crisis. These were fed by a sense of loss of the imperial status, which after 1918 was conceptualised as a marker of previous greatness and of commercial agency, as both cities degenerated from imperial hubs at the heart of global trade webs into mere nodes in the deglobalizing networks of a deficient interwar state system.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of Modern History
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 21 Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Not yet published as of 16/06/2022.

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