Assembling the Post-Liberal Order in Central and Eastern Europe (1929-1956)

Workshop, 26-27 June 2015, Budapest, Hungary

Organized by the History Department of the Central European University and by the Past Inc. Center for Historical Studies, this workshop is meant to serve as a preliminary meeting seeking to establish a research agenda on Central and Eastern European societies that is sensitive to the manifold impact of the Great Depression and to the transformations that came in its aftermath.

The workshop is also an attempt to reconsider the first years of state socialism, challenging some of the historiographical traditions that have regarded the establishment of socialist regimes in the region in terms of a clear break with the interwar past. In critiquing these narratives , the workshop addresses the underlying structures and processes that formed the infrastructure of both socialist and pre-socialist societies: models of organizing labour, welfare institutions, modes of governing urban life, of organizing economic production, ways of framing financial processes and fiscal policies, etc. To this purpose, the workshop will feature three topical foci:

1) the regulation and structure of labour relations after 1929: rationalization attempts, factory organization and new management techniques, the militarization of factory life during the war , anti-semitic labour laws, the problem of rural labourers, etc.

2) the restructuring of welfare institutions and their transnational diffusion: social insurance systems, poverty alleviation, the governing of family life through welfare,rural vs. urban poverty, etc.

3) technologies of economic development: new fiscal, financial and monetary innovations; new trade instruments such as clearing agreements; new patters of international economic relations, etc.

More detailed information about the aims of the workshop can be found in the “Project Statement” page which outlines some of the theoretical and pragmatic stakes of the meeting.

Prospective participants are invited to submit abstracts of approximately 300 words addressing one or more of the three main subthemes mentioned above as well as more general topics relevant for the aims of the workshop and which might provide a critical perspective on interwar and postwar Eastern European History. Analyses of the discursive constructions and the affective structures underpinning these technologies are particularly welcome.

The keynote speech will be delivered by Katherine Lebow, research fellow at the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Research and author of Unfinished Utopia: Nowa Huta, Stalinism, and Polish Society, 1949-56 (Cornell University Press, 2013), awarded with the Barbara Jelavich Prize for 2014.