Vojtěch Pojar: Research & CV

Experts in Post-Imperial Transitions: Entanglements and Diverging Trajectories of Eugenicists between the Habsburg Empire and the Nation States, 1912–1939

Research Area 1 – Displacements, “Dépaysement” and Discrepencies: People, Knowledge and Practices

Contact: vojtech.pojar(@)cefres.cz

My dissertation explores the role of expertise in the process of post-imperial transitions. Drawing on the methods of intellectual history and history of science, my research project charts the epistemic communities in the Habsburg imperial context that linked experts across national divides. I argue that even though the trajectories these experts took after the collapse of the empire were divergent, they remained closely entangled. Apart from showing the persistence of these expert networks across the apparent historical break of 1918, I also argue for a striking continuity of their epistemic and political commitments formed by their shared experience of the empire.

I study the place of experts and expertise in post-imperial transitions by focusing on the case of eugenics/racial hygiene, an ambiguous and now discredited body of knowledge. By focusing on eugenics, my dissertation shows a darker side of boundary crossings and imperial legacies. I argue that the experiences of imperial diversity and of transnational entanglements within the empire were paramount in shaping the ways in which eugenicists in the interwar period negotiated the boundaries between the spheres of the ‘biological’ and the ‘social,’ and between various human groups. They thus constructed the boundaries and hierarchies between ‘races’, genders, and classes, as well as between nature and society. My project reconstructs the shared genealogies of these eugenic discourses, reveals their diverging epistemic and political agendas, and compares the interventions of eugenicists in various contexts of Habsburg and post-Habsburg Central Europe.



  • from 2017: PhD Candidate, Comparative History at the Central European University, Vienna
  • 2016-2017: M. A., Comparative History at Central European University, Budapest, Academic Achievement Award, Péter Hanák Prize for the best thesis
  • 2013-2016: M. A., Social and Economic History at Charles University
  • 2009-2013: B. A., History at the Charles University

Teaching Experience

  • 2020: Teaching Fellow at Global History Lab, an initiative of Princeton University, N.J.
  • 2019: Teaching Assistant in the Historiography course, Central European University, Vienna

Recent Academic Activities

  • April 2021: Co-organizer of the round table and seminar Epidemics and Nation-Building in East Central Europe
  • April 2021: “Empire and its Discontents: Epistemic Communities and the Emergence of Eugenics in the Late Habsburg Empire,” paper presented at the 15th Annual Graduate Conference in European History, University of Vienna, Vienna (Austria)
  • February 2021: “Circulation of Eugenic Knowledge in the Late Habsburg Empire: A Context of Andrija Štampar’s Early Texts,” paper presented at the conference Production and Circulation of Knowledge in the (Semi-)Periphery in the Early Modern and Modern Period, Croatian Institute of History, Zagreb (Croatia)
  • December 2020: “Inheriting Empire: The Persistence of Imperial Networks and the Resistance against Nazi Racism in Post-Habsburg Spaces,” paper presented at the Working Group for Central and Eastern European History, convened by Orel Beilinson, Yale University (USA)
  • 2019: a principal student organizer of the 13th Annual Graduate Conference in European History, Budapest (members of the GRACEH consortium: CEU, EUI Florence, Oxford University, University of Vienna)

Recent Publications

  • ‘Rovnocennost evropských plemen a vědecké sítě ve střední Evropě: Transnacionální perspektiva’, in Za rovnocennost evropských plemen: Československá antropologie tváří v tvář rasismu a nacismu, ed. Milan Ducháček and Michal Šimůnek (Prague: Academia, forthcoming)
  • ‘Eugenický význam sokolských cvičení, 1910–1930’, in Od práce k zábavě: Volný čas v české kultuře 19. století, ed. Zdeněk Hojda et al. (Praha: Academia, 2021), 188–99.
  • ‘Beyond “Slavic Eugenics”: Entangled Histories of Eugenics in Prague and Ljubljana, 1910–1935,’ in Slovansko jezikovno in literarno povezovanje ter zgodovinski kontekst, ed. Ina Poteko (Ljubljana: Študentska organizacija Filozofske fakultete Univerze v Ljubljani, 2020), 164–71.