Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowphoto

from October 2019 to October 2021


Tel. [+39] 055 4686 502

Email: [email protected]

Postal address: Department of History and Civilization | Via Bolognese 156 | 50139 Florence - Italy

Villa Salviati Castello - Office SACA 417

Liaison Professor: F. Romero

Tom Junes has a PhD in History from the KU Leuven in Belgium and has held postdoctoral fellowships in Poland, Austria, Hungary, Finland, Germany, Bulgaria and Italy. His research interests include Eastern European history and politics, Cold War history, the history of youth and student movements, and the history of the European Left. He is the author of Student Politics in Communist Poland: Generations of Consent and Dissent and has published widely on youth and protest movements in Eastern Europe. As a political commentator he has contributed to media outlets such as Foreign Policy, Open Democracy, and Balkan Insight.

Communists into Liberals: The Transformation and Demise of the Left as Precursor to the Illiberal Turn in Poland

This research project seeks a historically grounded explanation to the recent ‘illiberal turn’ in Poland by pursuing a new line of inquiry into the country’s transition from state socialism to a European liberal democracy. Rather than focusing on relatively short-term political and economic structural contingencies, the project aims to bring both historical process and agency of key protagonists to the fore as a factor precipitating the developments of the past years. In doing so, three historical processes spanning from 1968 to the mid-2000s are placed in correlation to each other: the demise of communism and transition to liberal democracy in Poland, exchanges of ideas that transcended the Cold War divide of Europe, and the political trajectory of the Polish and European Left. The research re-examines the dynamics of reform communism prior to 1989 as well as its impact on the transition afterwards highlighting two issues: the ‘social-democratisation’ of communism and the ‘neoliberalisation’ of social democracy. Within this framework, the goal is to study the agency of a particular group of politicians and activists from the Polish Left and investigate how their ideas and policies set the stage for the recent so-called ‘illiberal turn’ fueled by populism of the Right.


European flagThis project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 846018 


Page last updated on 08 October 2019

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