Rightly Stated? Contemporary and Historical Considerations of the State in Eastern Europe and Eurasia
Featuring Keynote Speaker Professor Eugene Huskey
University of Pittsburgh, February 24‐26, 2012
A little over 20 years ago, the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union sparked an eastward flow of western consultants bearing recommendations for remaking the former communist states. While their prescriptions ranged from more presumptuous formulations such as "shrinking the state" to seemingly more agnostic "right‐sizing" it, a shared assumption was that the West had somehow gotten the state "right" and needed to share its experience with eastern counterparts who had historically gotten the state so wrong.
Twenty years later, the "state of the state" in the former communist countries remains as problematic as ever. Moreover, state reform in the contemporary era is further complicated by western democracies' deep crisis of confidence in their own cherished models of the state. Traditionally social democratic states find themselves burdened with debt while their more classically liberal counterparts ponder whether their free market models are to blame from increasingly wrenching boom and bust cycles. Amidst declarations of the "failure of multiculturalism," established western democracies struggle to redefine what it means to be a citizen. The European Union, which challenged traditional concepts of state sovereignty and presented itself as a "post-state" future, is struggling with the potentially fatal contradictions of a supranational economy layered over still very traditional state‐centric polities. In short - the former communist states are still searching for models, but these no longer flow so unambiguously from the West.
Acknowledging the intellectual challenges of this new era of uncertainty, this year's GOSECA conference focuses on the theme of the state in Eastern Europe and Eurasia. While contemporary events certainly warrant such a focus, we feel that specific historical and contemporary characteristics of our region make this an especially fitting topic. Throughout history this region has produced a vast array of state entities and state-‐related phenomenon. States have disintegrated, expanded and failed. Empires, supranational and international organizations have delayed state creation or challenged the traditional sovereignty of existing states. In terms of the state as a center of power or as a bureaucratic structure, our region has boasted some of history's weakest states ‐ and certainly one of its strongest. A glance across the region reveals a startling variety of state policies in the realms of the economy, culture, citizenship and immigration, security, governance, the environment and many other areas. Clearly the state remains a major entity and an enduring point of contention in the region. Students of all disciplines, covering a broad range of historical periods will certainly find ample questions to explore under this wide-‐ranging theme.
Please note that GOSECA welcomes submissions covering these and similar topics from any historical period.
Submissions due December 16, 2011: Visit goseca.pitt.edu for registration, online submission and other useful information
Submissions: Visit goseca.pitt.edu for registration, online submission and other useful information
University of Pittsburgh
Email: email@example.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Visit the website at http://goseca.pitt.edu
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