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Research at St Andrews

Tomasz Kamusella


Tomasz Kamusella
Postal address:
School of History
Modern History
St Katharine's Lodge, The Scores
St Andrews
United Kingdom


Direct phone: +44 (0)1334 462891

Research overview

I am an interdisciplinary historian of modern central and eastern Europe, with a focus on language politics and nationalism. In 2001 received a PhD in Political Science from the Institute of Western Affairs (Instytut Zachodni), Poznań, Poland. (It is a leading think tank of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.) A decade later, in 2011, I obtained a Habilitation ('continental 2nd PhD') in Cultural Studies from SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Warsaw, Poland. Between 1995 and 2007 I worked at Opole University, Poland, and afterward in Trinity College Dublin and Cracow University of Economics, before joining the University of St Andrews in 2011. Meanwhile, I did research as a postdoctoral fellow in the European University Insitute in Florence, the Kluge Center for Scholars in the Library of Congress, the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) in Vienna, the Herder-Institut in Marburg, and the Slavic-Eurasian Research Center in Sapporo, Japan.

In the first decade of the 21st century I published several books on the history and politics of language in Upper Silesia and across central Europe. In 2007, the Purdue University Press (West Lafayette IN) brought out my doctoral monograph on how ethnic and national groups emerged in Silesia, between 1848 and 1918, from the early modern society of unequal estates. Two years later, in 2009, Palgrave published my highly-acclaimed encyclopedia-size Habilitation work on how languages and nationalisms were constructed across modern central Europe, leading to the emergence of ethnolinguistic nation-states in this region. As a result, in central Europe, the nation is defined as all speakers of a language, for whom a state should be carved out with diregard for any historical borders or polities.

The methodological problem is that historians treat langauge as a 'black box,' while linguists perceive languages as ahistorical entities. For both groups I wrote a brief monograph (Palgrave 2015) on how langauges were constructed in line with political needs in Europe during the last millennium. I followed with another 'corrective' monograph (Palgrave 2017) on the nationally-induced anachronism of treating the early modern Commonwealth of Poland-Lithuania as an 'early Poland,' or an 'early Lithuania.'

With scholars from Australia, Europe, Israel, Japan and Zimbabwe I co-edited volumes on the political and social history of languages in southern Africa (Pagrave 2018) and in Slavophone Europe (Palgrave 2016), alongside a volume on modernity and national identity in Upper Silesia (Routledge 2016). Recently, I published a monograph on the unduly forgotten 1989 ethnic clenaisng of Bulgaria's Turks, which precipitated the end of communism in this country (Routledge 2018).

At present I work on Historical Atlas of Language Politics in Modern Central Europe, the politics of the number of Slavic languages during the last two centuries, and the transfer of the idea of the ethnolinguistci nation state from central Europe to southeast Asia and Ethiopia. For further details see my profiles on and ResearchGate.

Former Phd & MPhil students

  • Lukáš Bagin (MPhil) From Centre to Periphery: Reassessing the Velvet Revolution from the Slovak Perspectives
  • Catherine Gibson (European University Institute > External PhD Advisor) Nations on the Drawing Board: Ethnographic Map-making in the Russian Empire's Baltic Provinces, 1840-1920

PhD research projects available

Modern history and politics of Central Europe Modern history and politics of Eastern Europe Modern history and politics of the Balkans (Southeastern Europe) Language politics across the globe History of language politics Political and social history of languages Language building (esp. in Eurasia) Nationalism and ethnicity studies Nation-building across the globe Nation-state-building

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