1st Panel: “Democratic, Liberal, or Neoliberal Revolution?”

The events of 1989 led to a transformation of the social order. This panel poses the question of how to characterize this new order and how social and economic sciences began to situate the events of 1989 in the global context of changing economic thought, economic practice, and governance from the 1970s through the 1990s. Was it a revolution of liberal political freedoms and human rights or a neoliberal revolution leading to privatization, the creation of a market economy, and the establishment of a specific neoliberal mode of governance? How did Central European economic and political thought relate to Western—or perhaps global—liberalism and neoliberalism? Were “Western” models adopted unchanged, or did they take on new meanings in Central and Eastern Europe? What alternative political and economic projects existed in 1989?

Keynote speakers: Johanna Bockman, Jan Drahokoupil
Interventions: Tereza Stöckelová, Luka Lisjak Gabrielcic, Jan Komárek

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2nd Panel: “Dissent, Post-Dissent, and the Ideas of 1989”

In a moment of historical change, the dissidents in East Central Europe represented the most legitimate alternative elite. As a whole, however, they did not succeed in establishing themselves in a position of power, losing out to the “gray zone” of technocratic and expert elites that rose to the top of the new regimes. Nevertheless, the dissidents fundamentally shaped the leading political narratives and ways of thinking about the period of Communist Party “totalitarian” dictatorship. How did the dissidents imagine political and social-economic change before 1989? How did their visions of the future as well as their readings of the past affect immediate understandings of 1989? How, then, did the key narratives of post-dissident legitimation emerge and spread in historical memory and political discourse after 1989?

Keynote speakers: Padraic Kenney, Michal Kopeček
Interventions: Piotr Wciślik, Joe Grim Feinberg, Kateřina Lišková

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3rd Panel: “The End of History or the End of the Future?”

This panel will be devoted to the meaning of 1989 in attempts to research future. What predictions or developmental tendencies were addressed by the study of the future (“prognostics” or “futurology”) in the 1970s and 1980s? How did they react to the events of 1989 and what conclusions and predictions did they draw? What influence did 1989 have on the legitimacy of social-scientific expertise in studying the future of socialism, capitalism, and the region of Central and Eastern Europe? How was the future conceptualized after the fall of the “Eastern bloc,” which according to one influential interpretation was supposed to herald the “end of history”?

Keynote speakers: Jenny Andersson, Dieter Segert
Interventions: Pavel Barša, Vítězslav Sommer, Balázs Trenscényi

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4th Panel: “Theories of Soviet-type Society”

This panel focuses on the numerous theories of Soviet-type society, especially theories of state capitalism, theories of degenerated workers’ states, and theories of a new mode of production. We will analyze the subversive influence of these theories relative to official ideology, and we will discuss the historically shifting roll that the theories played in movements opposed to the official system. We will investigate the development of these theories in relation to social and political developments, and we will ask how these theories might frame interpretations of the eventual collapse and replacement of the regimes that they theorized.

Keynote speakers: Hillel Ticktin, Boris Kagarlitsky
Interventions: Anna Ochkina, Jerzy Kochan

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5th Panel: “The Second Life of the Prague Spring in 1989”

Through an exploration of the generation of “sixty-eighters,” this panel is intended to trace the changing function of the “Prague Spring” in Czech, Slovak, and international debates about the disintegration of the Soviet bloc. The panel will map the intellectual, political, and organizational attempts to return to the project of “socialist democracy”—including attempts to “complete” the work that was begun in 1968, as well as other attempts to oppose such endeavors. What are main dividing lines that run through these competing projects—Czech-Slovak, generational, communist vs. anti-communist, socialist vs. liberal capitalist?

Keynote speakers: Alessandro Catalano, James Krapfl
Interventions: Juraj Marušiak, Tomáš Zahradníček, Kacper Szulecki

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