The project seeks to place the current anti-liberal and anti-democratic backlash in Eastern Europe, arguably manifesting the all-European socio-political and ideological crisis in its most acute form, into a comparative historical perspective. It begins with the striking contrast between the optimistic expectations of a quick socio-economic and cultural harmonization with “the West” around 1989, and the ensuing complex process of adaptation and adjustment of conceptions, aspirations and procedures. While the process of “Europeanization” led to convergence in certain areas, it also raised dramatic questions about the position of these societies in the new European order and about the long-term legacies of authoritarian--pre-communist and communist--regimes. In order to tackle this vast problem area, the project sets out critically to reconsider the various scripts of post-socialist social, economic and cultural transformation, focusing especially on cognitive dissonances among the different actors (Western political elites, international expert communities, local political and technocratic elites, civil society, etc.), which shaped the process of transition and led to increasing gaps between spaces of experience and horizons of expectation. The intention is to grasp why and how such cognitive dissonances resulted in increasing resentment on all sides, precipitating the collapse of the “liberal democratic consensus” that seemed to underpin the transition process. In order to study these problems, we have identified five thematic foci: 1) the interplay of economic liberalization and political democratization; 2) the relationship of civil society to the state and the problem of the rise of “uncivil society”; 3) the relationship between “old and new” elites and the debates and policies concerning the predominance and/or weakness of the state; 4) the formal and informal networks of social solidarity and the concomitant dynamics of emancipation and marginalization, with a special eye on the interplay of social and ethnic categories; and 5) the competing models of Westernization/modernization and attendant negotiations related to “identity politics” and the “politics of history.” The project is rooted in the long-term cooperation of five leading institutions dealing with Central and Eastern European history and politics, based in Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania. The thematic teams will be hosted by these institutions, but the research framework envisioned is designed to create a multi-level inter-disciplinary and cross-team interaction, thus securing the cohesion of the project.
Central European University, Budapestmehr
Imre Kertész Kolleg, Jenamehr
Școala Națională de Ștudii Politice Și Administrative (SNSPA), Bukarestmehr
Joachim von Puttkamer
Imre Kertész Kolleg Jenamehr