Conference: ‘Reform Communism since 1945’

September 11, 2011

‘Reform Communism’ since 1945 in Comparative Historical Perspective

Location: Room 3.26, Arts 2, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ

Date: 22 Oct 2011 – 23 Oct 2011
Organiser: Dr Matthias Neumann
Institution: University of East Anglia
Ticket Price: Free, but with limited spaces

Conference hosted by UEA School of History in conjunction with the journal Socialist History: ‘Reform Communism’ Since 1945 in Comparative Historical Perspective’.

The collapse of the USSR and the Eastern bloc in the wake of Gorbachev’s perestroika seemed to show that communism was essentially unreformable. It could be preserved, dismantled, or overthrown, but it could not be reconstructed as a viable alternative to capitalism, free from the defects of its Leninist-Stalinist prototype.

Prior to 1989-91, however, reform communism was a live political issue in many countries. At different times in countries as diverse as Yugoslavia, the USSR, Czechoslovakia, Western Europe, Japan, and China, the leaderships of communist parties themselves sought to change direction, re-evaluate their own past, correct mistakes and so on with the aim of cleansing, strengthening and improving communism, rather than undermining or dismantling it. In countries ruled by communist parties this process usually involved political relaxation and an easing of repression, and was often accompanied by an upsurge of intellectual and cultural ferment.

The aim of this conference is to consider reform communism as a distinct phenomenon, which can usefully be distinguished from, on the one hand, mere changes of line or leader without any engagement with a party’s own past and the assumptions which underpinned it, and on the other, dissenting and oppositional activity within and outside parties which failed to change the party’s direction.

Selected papers will be published in 2012 in a special issue of Socialist History ( devoted to the subject.

Attendance of the conference will be free of charge, but we ask that anyone wishing to attend registers in advance by emailing Francis King on and/or Matthias Neumann on at School of History, UEA, Norwich NR4 7TJ. Any enquiries should be addressed to us.

Download an information poster

Download a copy of the programme

Supported by the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies