States and Social Transformation in Eastern Europe 1945-1965
The Open University Conference Centre, London, UK
24-26 April 2003
Call for Papers
In the years following the Second World War the countries of Eastern Europe (Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, the GDR, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Yugoslavia) fell under the rule of Communist parties and underwent major state-directed social change. Industry was nationalised, industrial employment expanded dramatically and private ownership of agricultural land was drastically restricted in the interests of collectivisation. Attempts were made to integrate previously excluded groups into national life while urban and rural life was transformed.
The vast majority of the work on the socialist dictatorships of post-war Eastern Europe has concentrated on the realm of high politics, show trials, police repression or events like 1953 and 1956 when socialist rule was seriously challenged by popular unrest. This work has either completely ignored the transformation that took place in everyday life during the first two decades of socialist rule, or it has attempted to argue that popular experiences of these transformations can be read from a focus on high politics. As the social and economic institutions built during these years were dismantled during the 1990s, however, a nostalgic memory of the patterns of everyday life under socialism has emerged. This nostalgic memory has provided the basis for remarkable political shifts in some of the countries of the region over the course of the decade. This alone suggests that the popular experience of state directed social transformation is need of re-examination. A focus on the transformation of everyday life suggests that a new look need to be taken at some of the social and economic policies of the regimes in order to re-shape our understanding of the nature of socialism.
In order to focus on everyday socialism in the Eastern Europe of the 1950s and 1960s we would like to bring together historical work on all of the countries of the region. We would welcome proposals for papers from historians, anthropologists, sociologists and those interested in the material and visual cultures of the region during the period under discussion. Proposals for papers should address the following themes:
Projects of the state
The Experience of Socialist Labour
The private sphere
Memories of Early Socialism
Please send a 300-500 word abstract of your proposed paper indicating its content and the sources on which it is based before 21 June 2002 to the conference organisers.
Dr. Mark Pittaway
Lecturer in European Studies
Department of History
Faculty of Arts
The Open University
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