After the dramatic events of 1989, Eastern Europe has frequently been called a laboratory of change. Within a short period, the region experienced the collapse of Empire, war, genocide, the birth of new states, the vanishing of others, the breakdown of socialism, deep economic crisis, massive emigration and the embrace of capitalism and democracy. Its countries have also become part of broader European and global changes, as members or aspiring members of the European Union and through integration in globalizing capitalism. More recently, some East European countries have become laboratories for illiberal change, while others have been experimenting with radical neoliberal reforms.
1989 was by far not the first time that Eastern Europe has undergone such sweeping changes. The resulting unsettled nature of Eastern Europe’s borders, identity, economic, social and political orders have often led to its negative stereotyping and orientalising from without, and self-orientalising from within. Yet, the propensity for frequent and often radical change is inextricably linked with the region’s peripheral status, and its location between two influential powers, Russia and Germany.
Peripherality has given rise to repeated and often frustrated attempts of catching up with the West. The region’s location has destined it to become the plaything of Russian and German ambitions. At the same time, being a crossroad and place of exchange, also attests to Eastern Europe’s capacity to innovate, and influence events beyond its borders. As such, rather than its “other”, Eastern Europe is very much part of Europe, sharing the best and worst legacies of the continent.
Despite the rich propensity for change and innovation and its centrality for European history, economy and politics, academic interest in Eastern Europe is on the wane. In some countries in the region, academic freedom has come again under attack, while in Western Europe’s social science there is declining interest in substantive area specific knowledge. The research group seeks to stem this tide. It invites fellows who are interested in exploring aspects of East European specificities, also in a comparative perspective. It is interested in the changes the region has gone through in its recent and more remote history and these changes’ lasting legacies; the challenges it faces, and its importance beyond its borders. It also encourages to explore methodological aspects of studying change within the region and beyond from a multidisciplinary perspective.
Recent activities 2022/2023
- 28.11.2023 Working papers "There’s Strength in Networks: The External Incentives Model and Informality in South-Eastern Europe" by Alexander Mesarovich and "Shrouded in Secrecy. Explaining Why Some Countries Refuse to Disclose Their Military Aid to Ukraine" by Marius Ghincea
- 24.10.2023 Working papers "Preferences for Geographic Representation in Bureaucracy: How Shared Local Ties Influence the Turnover of Public Servants" by Dániel Kovarek and "How do electoral systems and reforms affect incumbents? Quasi-experimental evidence from municipality elections in Poland" by Michał Gulczyński
- 25.09.2023 Lecture "Human rights, democracy and the rule of law in the Western Balkans: From Council of Europe to EU membership - perspectives 20 years after Thessaloniki" by Tobias Flessenkemper (Council of Europe, Belgrade)
- 21.09.2023 Roundtable "Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe amidst Russia’s Aggression" with the participation of Natalia Letki (University of Warsaw), Jozef Batora (Comenius University in Bratislava),Michal Parízek (Charles University), Daniel Bochsler (Central European University and University of Belgrade)
- 08.06.2023 Working papers "Right-Wing Legal Mobilization Against Women's Rights. The Case of Abortion in Poland" by Karolina Kocemba; "Russian Strategic Narratives 2022-2023" by Olena Snigyr; and "Varieties of Central European Housing Tenure Regimes: The Long Life of a North-South Cleavage Line" by Bence Kováts
- 18.05.2023 Working paper "Neighbors with Benefits: How Politicians' Local Ties Generate Positive Externalities When Bureaucratic Oversight is Limited" by Dániel Kovarek
- 20.04.2023 Working paper "Disinformation as a Corruption Defense: Evidence from a Survey Experiment in Georgia" by Scott Radnitz and Yuan Hsiao
- 09.03.2023 Working papers “Heavy clouds, no rain. Unmasking the Polish Constitutional Tribunal challenging the primacy of the EU law and the Court of Justice in case K 3/21“ by Michał Ziółkowski and “Ownership of National Recovery Plans: Next Generation EU and Democratic Legitimacy” by Mario Munta
- 09.02.2023 Group Discussion of Lewicki, Aleksandra. forthcoming “East-West Inequalities and the Ambiguous Racialisation of ‘Eastern Europeans”, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. and Baker, Catherine. 2021 “The contingencies of whiteness: Gendered/racialized global dynamics of security narratives”. Security Dialogue 52 (S): 124-132.
- 08.12.2022 Group discussion of Ghodsee, Kristen, and Mitchell Orenstein. 2021. Taking Stock of Shock: Social Consequences of the 1989 Revolutions. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.
- 05.12.2022 Lecture « Bonding vs. Bridging and Linking Social Capital » by Katalin Füzér
- 10.11.2022 Working paper "Wartime EU: Consequences of the Russia – Ukraine war on the enlargement process" by Veronica Anghel and Jelena Džankić
If you want to be included in the mailing list or have suggestions and ideas for the group, please contact the group coordinator