CfP: The Many Faces of Late Socialism: The Individual in the “Eastern Bloc,” 1953-1988

CFP: The Many Faces of Late Socialism: The Individual in the “Eastern Bloc,” 1953-1988 (May 26-28, 2016, University of Cologne, Germany) – Research Workshop

How did individuals who grew up under state socialism experience and, in turn, influence what we now call ‘Late Socialism’? Individuals figure prominently in narratives about state socialism’s repressive character and passive or open resistance to “the system.” At the time, persecuted dissidents such as Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Adam Michnik, and Václav Havel represented the ideal of the unfaltering, independent mind. Today people like Jan Palach and the almost 10 million individuals who had joined Solidarność by 1981 remain firmly integrated into the narrative of Central Eastern Europe’s return to the fold of the “free world.” However, even though people participated in events that challenged socialist state power, the different versions of state socialism in Eastern Europe remained quiet stable between 1953 and 1988. And despite the whirlwind developments of perestroika, the eventual disintegration of state socialism took most people by surprise.

The purpose of this workshop is to gain a better understanding of both the stabilizing and the disruptive forces at work during Late Socialism by reexamining individuals’ views, milieus, everyday practices, and self-understandings. Continue reading