Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 June 2021
The official birthday of Czechoslovakia was 28 October 1918. The genesis of an Egyptological chair and seminar followed in the 1920s, after a redefinition of the Czech part of the university in Prague as the Charles University (Univerzita Karlova: cf. p. 278). Czechoslovak Egyptology – indeed oriental studies as a whole – was, like many aspects of a state that was a successor to a multinational empire, derived from the Austrian(-Hungarian) school system and educational practices, a system that was, albeit reluctantly at times, multinational and multilingual. Tensions between a multinational state and local national revival (as nations within one state competed for a political recognition) had an impact on the formation of scholarship, particularly in the humanities. On one hand, future Czechoslovak oriental studies had important ties to international scholarship, specifically to German-, French- and English-speaking orientalists; on the other, within regions such as the former Austria-Hungary, history and humanities were confronted with several competing national revivals (and hence national memories and histories), and there was a need to counteract local tendencies towards insularity that might be motivated by narrow nationalism.