The Statehood research area focuses on the extended lines of development of nation-state orders in Eastern Europe. In particular, it examines why certain tendencies in state development found a different expression in this region than in other parts of the continent. The democratically legitimated constitutional state as defined by a fixed territory is the form of political rule that asserted itself as the norm in the late twentieth century. Different social developments, political decisions, and historical experience have influenced these processes of state-building, which varied in the respective nation-states.
Someone born in the Carpathian region of northeastern Hungary around 1900 might have had up to five different citizenships in the course of a lifetime, from Austro-Hungarian to Czech, Hungarian, Soviet, and, finally, Ukrainian. Political upheaval as well as the experience of intense violence and the profound transition from agrarian societies to post-socialist transformation societies have left their mark on the state-building processes in this region.
The Statehood research area's comparative approach based in experiential history aims to allow individual experience to be disconnected from its national references. The objective is a transnational comparison of shared problems passed down over history. In this way the particular features of the region can become more clearly defined. At the same time the historical experiences in Eastern Europe will be illuminated within a pan-European context.