Conference – 1989-2009: The East European Revolutions in Perspective

1989-2009: The East European Revolutions in Perspective

Organised by: Debatte. Journal of Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe

Location and date: London, 17-18 October 2009.

Keynote speakers:

Caroline Humphrey, Boris Kagarlitsky, Gáspár Miklós Tamas, Peter Gowan, Alex Callinicos, Bernd Gehrke, Catherine Samary.

Deadline for abstracts and panel proposals: 22 June 2009.


Debatte is marking the twentieth anniversary of the revolutionary upheavals of 1989 by inviting scholars and students of Central and Eastern Europe to reflect upon the events of that year, their causes and processes, and the ensuing transformation of the region. In line with Debatte’s credo, the conference encourages critical and inter-disciplinary contributions. Especially welcome are papers that:

  • examine the part played by social movements in overthrowing regimes and bringing about democratic change
  • explore the power relations involved in the post-1989 restructuring of Central and Eastern Europe
  • look afresh at the seminal contributions and debates in this area of research
  • investigate ways in which research on 1989 and the transition has affirmed, deconstructed or challenged dominant ideological conventions

Topics for inquiry

Promising areas for papers include:

  • The dissolution of the Soviet system. The roles played by relative economic decline, military competition, social and cultural change, the Western media. Comparison with the trajectory of ‘communism’ elsewhere: China, North Korea, Cuba etc
  • Revolution and social change. The question of the ‘revolutionary’ nature of the events of 1989. Comparative revolutions and pseudo-revolutions. The contribution of social movement theories to analysing processes of mobilisation etc. in 1989. The history of dissident, resistance and reform movements
  • Post-1989 transitions
    • Geopolitical: Russia and the West; E.U. enlargement
    • Geo-economic: Central and Eastern Europe’s changing location within the global division of labour; labour migration
    • Geo-ideological: what has become of the Cold War mentality?; the repositioning (‘othering’?) of Central/Eastern Europe within Western discourse
    • Economic: neoliberal reform; ‘shock therapy’; comparative economic policy
    • ‘Bringing labour back in’: working-class recomposition and industrial relations
    • Political and social: expansion and privatisation of the public sphere; the restructuring of social power ; elite continuities and discontinuities; democratisation and ‘managed democracy’; the evolution of Communist parties and of pre-1989 currents of dissidence and resistance; changing gender roles and relations; old and new nationalisms (including the break-up of Yugoslavia); the environment, transport and climate change
    • Anthropological: cultures of everyday life; the ethnography of societies in ‘transition’; new forms of division and exclusion
    • Cultural: new freedom, new censorship; the changing role of the artist; developments in cinema, literature, art and music; the creation of collective memories and narratives of the pre-1989 era
  • Historiography of post-1989 Central and Eastern Europe: assessing the debates and breakthroughs; identifying gaps and silences in the scholarly literature

Papers and panel proposals

Submission of a panel proposal: The proposal should be no longer than 500 words, and should include the panel convenor’s full name and e-mail address, as well names and e-mail addresses of at least two other panel participants.

Questions, as well as submissions of panel proposals and abstracts, should be directed to Gareth Dale,
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1989-2009 - The East European Revolutions in Perspective

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