The conference presents trust and distrust as crucial forces in a historical dynamics of the Eastern bloc from 1956 to 1991. It is the first systematic attempt to draw comparisons and conclusions about the scope, meaning and semantics of trust and distrust across European socialist countries: in the GDR, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union. Looking at the entire region reveals a distinctive picture of cultural, political, and economic national peculiarities in each socialist country and sharpens our understanding of the configurations of trust and distrust in the Eastern bloc through the analysis of interconnections, exchanges and encounters in the socialist bloc and beyond during the Cold War. To sum up, studying trust and distrust deepens our understanding of how dictatorships really work and how closed societies really function from a completely new perspective by re-examining the role of state institutions and interpersonal relations, informal networks and unwritten rules, space and emotions, language and their media both in the vitality and the collapse of the socialist system.
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