Minorities and Self-determination – 100th Anniversary of the Post-World War I Plebiscites

Minorities and Self-determination – 100th Anniversary of the Post-World War I Plebiscites

European Centre for Minority Issues (ECMI); Danish Central Library for South Schleswig (DCBIB)
Danish Central Library for South Schleswig
From - Until
18.06.2020 - 19.06.2020
Klaus Tolstrup Petersen

Scholars working in the fields of history, political science, economics, sociology, law and related disciplines are invited to submit paper proposals for the international conference “Minorities and Self-determination – 100th Anniversary of the Post-World War I Plebiscites”. The organizers welcome paper abstracts within predefined thematic panels listed below. The deadline for abstracts submission is 15 October 2019.


This one-time conference is co-organised by the European Centre for Minority Issues (ECMI) and the Danish Central Library for South Schleswig (DCBIB), both located in Flensburg, Germany. The ECMI conducts practice and policy-oriented research, provides information and documentation, and offers advisory services concerning minority-majority relations in Europe. The research department at the DCBIB concentrates on the history of the Danish-German border area, with a particular focus on the Danish minority in Southern Schleswig and relations between Denmark and Germany.

The conference coincides with the 100th anniversary of the border settlement between Denmark and Germany resulting from the outcome of two plebiscites held in Northern and Middle Schleswig. At the same time, Schleswig was only one of several European regions where plebiscites concerning self-determination were held in the aftermath of World War I. Other areas, such as Allenstein and Marienwerder in West and East Prussia, Upper Silesia on the German-Polish border, Carinthia on the border between Austria and Slovenia and Burgenland on the border between Austria and Hungary, experienced similar plebiscites, however each of them took place within a different context and as a consequence delivered differing ramifications and experiences.

The aim of the conference is to draw attention to these plebiscites and the impact they have had on national minorities in the relevant areas, alongside reflection on the notion of self- determination itself and legal frameworks concerning minority rights elaborated in the aftermath of World War I. A crucial element of the conference will be to enhance the comparative and interdisciplinary perspective in scholarly research concerning aforementioned issues.

Conference Panels

The conference programme consists of six panels; five thematic plus a concluding session. In addition, during both conference days, the panels will be preceded by extensive presentations delivered by two keynote speakers representing varying academic disciplines (see below). The panels are organised under the following titles:

- Panel 1: Self-determination from theoretical and historical perspectives
- Panel 2: Plebiscites as a tool for self-determination in 1920-21
- Panel 3: Minority treaties – as a consequence of the Versailles Peace Conference
- Panel 4: Post-plebiscitary territories as living spaces between the two World Wars
- Panel 5: Contemporary discourses on the post-World War I plebiscites: interpretations, narratives, identities
- Panel 6: Concluding discussion

Keynote Speakers

The conference will feature two keynote speakers. Political scientist Professor Matthew Qvortrup will deliver a lecture on Schleswig plebiscites in both historical and contemporary contexts additionally focusing on the role of emotional arguments, while historian Dr. Volker Prott will address the issue of 1917-1923 plebiscites as tools contributing to the establishment of just and lasting peace.

Call for Abstracts

We invite scholars from varying disciplinary perspectives to submit paper abstracts. With the aforementioned comparative and interdisciplinary character of the conference in mind, historical, political, economic, sociological and legal perspectives are all considered to be of relevance.

Suggested themes for papers are outlined in the full descriptions of each panel, which can be viewed online at: www.ecmi.de/conferences. Potential participants willing to submit a paper proposal are expected to indicate the conference panel they want to be a part of (numbers from 1 to 5 above). At the same time, the organizers reserve the right to change the number, structure and titles of the panels.

The paper abstracts of up to 300 words should be sent to the following e-mail address: conference2020@ecmi.de. Please use the submission template supplied on the conference webpage:

Junior and female scholars are strongly encouraged to submit their paper abstracts.

Important Dates

Deadline for the submission of paper abstracts: 15 October 2019
Notifications concerning the acceptance or rejection of submitted abstracts will be sent by 1 December 2019.
Draft papers (not exceeding 8,000 words) will have to be submitted to the organizers by 15 May 2020.

Financial Assistance

The organizers are able to provide travel assistance grants for selected junior scholars accepted to present at the conference. Please indicate during abstract submission whether you would like to be considered for this. Grants will be awarded on the basis of individual needs assessments carried out by the Conference organizers.


The conference will be held at the premises of the Danish Central Library for South Schleswig in Flensburg, Germany. Located in the Danish-German border region, this symbolic location is accessible via the international airports of Hamburg, Billund or Aarhus, in around 2 hours. Connections from Copenhagen via train (4 hours) or domestic flight transfer to Sønderborg (1 hour) are also possible.

Detailed accommodation information, as well as further transport specifics, will be provided at:

Post-conference publication

The organizers intend to publish selected papers presented by researchers participating in the conference.


Contact (announcement)

Klaus Tolstrup Petersen
Email: ktp@dcbib.dk

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