In a recent speech at the Italian Historical Institute for the Middle Ages, Hungarian Gábor Klaniczay underlined how «Much of Central-Eastern European historiography […] aims to find out precisely this [comparativistic in relation to Western Europe] component in historical evolution of the region, measuring the degree of success based on the appreciable accuracy of their adoption and the speed of adaptation to these models, or, on the contrary, recording the incompleteness and slowness of their adoption in terms of “backwardness” . [However] The emphasis is now placed on the “irreducible plurality of cultures” and on a re-examination of the terms of comparison in the light of recent acquisitions of sociological theory. An effective corrective to the traditional comparative approach as a study of the exportation of cultural models is what Michael Werner and Bénédicte Zimmermann have called histoire croisée. This approach looks at the reciprocal influences in every political, social or cultural meeting that, at the very moment in which it believes to replicate it, constantly transforms the model. Rather, the setting emphasizes the dynamic relationship that emerges from these processes, with respect to the mechanical transfer and the passive reception of crystallized and invariable patterns».
Although aware of not being able to offer a fully comprehensive profile of the political, economic and social structures of Central and Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages, the aim of the Conference is to present some results of the research of specialists – Italians and foreigners – focusing on a few territories of central-eastern Europe and their economic, social and cultural relations with the Italian peninsula, not only to highlight and better understand the political, economic and social complexity of these territories, but also to offer new insights.