1st Edition

Biopolitics in Central and Eastern Europe in the 20th Century Fearing for the Nation

    276 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    276 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The field of biopolitics encompasses issues from health and hygiene, birth rates, fertility and sexuality, life expectancy and demography to eugenics and racial regimes. This book is the first to provide a comprehensive view on these issues for Central and Eastern Europe in the twentieth century.

    The cataclysms of imperial collapse, World War(s) and the Holocaust but also the rise of state socialism after 1945 provided extraordinary and distinct conditions for the governing of life and death. The volume collects the latest research and empirical studies from the region to showcase the diversity of biopolitical regimes in their regional and global context – from hunger relief for Hungarian children after the First World War to abortion legislation in communist Poland. It underlines the similarities as well, demonstrating how biopolitical strategies in this area often revolved around the notion of an endangered nation; and how ideological schemes and post-imperial experiences in Eastern Europe further complicate a 'western' understanding of democratic participatory and authoritarian repressive biopolitics.

    The new geographical focus invites scholars and students of social and human sciences to reconsider established perspectives on the history of population management and the history of Europe.


    Joachim von Puttkamer and Immo Rebitschek

    1. Is Biopower Something to Be Afraid Of?: Biopolitics as a Research Category in Historiography

    Barbara Klich-Kluczewska

    Section I: Issues of Reproduction

    2. Regenerating the Nation: Eugenics and Racial Hygiene in Early Twentieth-Century Austria

    Herwig Czech

    3. ‘Each Jewish Child Is Precious’: Survivor Community in Poland and Its Biopolitical Discourses

    Natalia Aleksiun

    4. ‘Marital Intercourse Means Togetherness and Parenthood’: The Biopolitics of Catholic Marriage Preparation in Poland during the 1970s

    Agata Ignaciuk

    5. Whose Children?: Pronatalist Incentives and Social Categorization in Socialist Romania

    Corina Doboș

    6. State and Parenthood: Family Planning Policy in Socialist Yugoslavia (1945–1991)

    Ivana Dobrivojević Tomic´

    7. Blind Faith or Divine Providence?: Global Catholicism and the Population Bomb

    Wannes Dupont

    Section II: Beyond Procreation: Health, Nutrition and Hygiene

    8. Feeding Hungry Bodies: Children’s Nutrition as Biopolitics after the Great War

    Friederike Kind-Kovács

    9. Disinfection Trains: Fighting Lice on Polish Railways, 1918–1920

    Łukasz Mieszkowski

    10. The Intricacies of Communist Biopolitics: Control of Disease and Epidemics in the Polish Countryside after 1945

    Ewelina Szpak

    11. State Socialist Biopolitics: Four Stages of Human Development in Post-War Czechoslovakia

    Jakub Rákosník and Radka Šustrová

    12. Imperial Biopolitics: Famine in Russia and the Soviet Union, 1891–1947

    Immo Rebitschek

    13. Fearing the Nation, Fearing for the Nation and Fearing Other Nations: Compulsory Vaccination in Twentieth-Century Germany

    Malte Thießen


    Barbara Klich-Kluczewska is an Associate Professor at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow and a cultural historian of twentieth-century Poland. Her fields of research include history of family, history of sexuality and gender, biopolitics and history of experts’ knowledge.

    Joachim von Puttkamer is Director of the Imre Kertész Kolleg Jena at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena. His research focusses on nationalism and statehood in modern Central and Eastern Europe.

    Immo Rebitschek is an Assistant Professor at the Department for Eastern European History at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena. He has published widely on the history of the Soviet procuracy in Stalinist Russia and is currently focussing his research on the history of famines in the late Russian empire.