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Durham University

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Dr James Koranyi

Assistant Professor (Modern European Cultural History) in the Department of History
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 42994

(email at

I am a cultural historian of east-central Europe. I look at the ways in which transnational and spatial history offer us particular lenses to rethink modern European history by shifting the focus to east-central Europe. My work covers the German minorities of east-central Europe, memory cultures, and travel writing in the Carpathians. 

German minorities

My first project was on Romanian Germans in modern Europe (Exodus: Romanian Germans in Modern Europe). I explored the narratives that Germans from Romania constructed of themselves over the course of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Their stories chart the turbulent twentieth century as they experienced most major developments in European history: the restructuring of Europe after the First World War, the rise of fascism, the Second World War, communism, and migration during and after the Cold War. I am currently working with the IKGS (Munich) and the Arbeitskreis für Siebenbürgische Landeskunde on a project on the radicalisation of Romanian Germans in the 1930s, as well as project with Cristian Cercel (Bochum) on transnational Germans.

Memory cultures

My work and teaching covers memory cultures throughout east-central Europe and asks questions about memory construction and transmission. I am also keen to push against the boundaries of east-west divisions in memory studies scholarship. German minorities in east-central Europe and sites of memory in the 'Habsburg world' play a key part in rethinking memory boundaries.

Transnational history

I am writing a book with Bernhard Struck (St Andrews), Modern Europe: A Transnational History, in which we introduce a series of vignettes that plot a transnational European history that radically decentres modern European history. Foregrounding east-central Europe as well as global connections, Modern Europe charts a European history in three discreet episodes: 1760s-1850s, 1860s-1960s, and beyond the 1960s. 

Carpathian travellers 

My new project explores the discovery of the Carpathian Mountains, 1860-1914. From the 1860s, travellers, ethnographers, medics, and other ‘middle-class sceptics’ set out to discover the Carpathians. Over the next half century until the First World War they left behind a tapestry of writing, documentation, reports, visual material, correspondence and other traces. My project examines this confluence of a European interest in the Carpathian uplands that takes us away from the straightjacket of postcolonial readings of travel writing. 

Other projects

I jointly edited a special issue of National Identities with Tricia Cusack on 'The Making of Landscape in Modernity'. I am currently working with Emily Hanscam (Durham) on a project investigating the uses of ancient pasts in east-central Europe. Our first workshop, Digging Politics: The Ancient Past and Political Present, took place in Durham in June 2019. 

Doctoral Supervision

I welcome research students who want to work on minorities, memory, travel, or other aspects of transnational/spatial history. My geographic is broadly-speaking the 'Habsburg world', Romania, as well as German-speaking world, but research supervision is not limited to that. 

I currently supervise, either as first or co-supervisor:

Alberto Murru

Lenka Sediva

Christoph Doppelhofer

Razvan Dumitru

Max Loth-Hill

Christian Drury


Research Groups

Department of History

Research Interests

  • East-central Europe in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries
  • Memory cultures
  • Minorities in east-central Europe
  • Spatial and transnational history

Indicators of Esteem


Authored book

  • Koranyi, James & Struck, Bernhard (Accepted). Modern Europe: A Transnational History. Bloomsbury.

Chapter in book

Journal Article