Theorizing the Dynamics of Core-Periphery Relations

Friday, January 30, 2004–Saturday, January 31, 2004
All Day

William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
2520 Cimarron Street

—a conference organized by Robert Brenner, University of California, Los Angeles; Peter H. Reill, University of California, Los Angeles; and Balázs Szelényi, Library of Congress

co-sponsored by the UCLA Center for European and Eurasian Studies,
UCLA Center for Social Theory and Comparative History,
UCLA Department of History, and
Eugen Weber, Chair of Modern European History at UCLA

The conference focuses on the core-periphery debate and its contemporary significance. In the 1960s and 1970s leading academics argued that in the seventeenth century certain core countries in Western Europe broke away from traditional socio-economic patterns and rose to world dominance, while Eastern Europe stagnated under the imposition of second serfdom. Since the collapse of communism, however, it has become necessary to revisit the problems associated with the basic premise of this theory. The core-periphery debate rose to importance in the backdrop of the Cold War, when the obvious dichotomy in Europe was between a democratic capitalist West and a dictatorial communist East. Yet with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the declining significance of the East-West divide, several questions emerge: Where does the border of Eastern Europe begin? Does the absorption of Eastern Europe into the European Union mean the end of the East-West divide? How do future generations view the core-periphery debate? Is it possible that in the twenty-first century historians will view the core-periphery debate as little more than ideological struggles born out of the Cold War? Or, will the next generation of historians, political scientists, and sociologists continue to regard the seventeenth century as the critical period for distinguishing the West from the East? Alternatively, will a third option arise, as parts of the core-periphery debate are salvaged and other discarded?

The program honors of Iván Berend as he approaches his seventy-fifth birthday. Papers read at this conference will be brought together in a Festschrift to honor Professor Berend’s contribution to comparative European political-economic history, and the study of core-periphery relations.