GAUK Homolová

The Concept of Territorial Autonomy in the Context of the Versailles Peace Negotiations

The proposed research project deals with the concept of territorial autonomy in the context of the Versailles negotiations. Territorial autonomy is one of the most loosely defined concepts in international law (Hannum, 2016). Yet it is often the subject of diplomatic debates and subsequent proposals for the delimitation of post-conflict territories. This was also the case during the peace negotiations after the First World War. Compared to the previous period, the number of territorial autonomies increased significantly after the First World War, which aimed at resolving ethnically and nationally ambiguous areas. Their existence, which lasted only a few years or low decades, was often accompanied by national or ethnic unrest. There is a large number of scientific articles that analyse reasons for the failure of territorial autonomies. These are sought in dysfunctionality of territorial autonomy or in the crisis of international relations in the interwar period. However, far less is known about an equally fundamental question, namely, what approaches to territorial autonomy existed in the contemporary literature and how they were reflected in the Versailles negotiations. Answering this question, neglected in research so far, will help to understand the ideological framework within which the actors of the Paris Peace Conference chose the concept of territorial autonomy as a solution to the existing problems. The aim of the project is therefore to describe the scholarship and ideological context of the time that led to the prioritisation of territorial autonomy and its specific forms in the Versailles debates. What knowledge and motivations contributed to their creation and with what expectations did key actors promote them? Did they anticipate sustainability of territorial autonomies or, on the contrary, did they envisage their future transformation into other forms? In the first two years, the applicant will analyse research papers on territorial autonomy published from the end of the 19th century to the emergence of the Versailles system. At the same time, she will examine relevant archival materials, present her findings at international conferences and write a scholarly article. In the third year, a second academic article will be submitted for peer review.

Research team

The principal investigator of the project is Mgr. Veronika Homolová, a PhD student in Modern History at the Department of German and Austrian Studies, IMS FSV UK. The project consultant is prof. Ota Konrád.


This project is funded by the Grant Agency of the Charles University.



The project runs from April 2023 to December 2025.