Eastern Europe in Transition: The Road to 1989 and Beyond
Spring Quarter, 2000 (University of Chicago)
Melissa Feinberg Office Hours: Mondays, 1:00-3:00
Office: Gates Blake 127 or by appointment
The fall of the Communist system in 1989 was a moment of euphoria for Eastern Europe, a moment seemed to herald a complete and immediate transformation of life in the region. However, once the dust had settled, it quickly became apparent that the transition from socialism to democracy and a free market economy would be a long and torturous process. This course examines the revolutionary events of 1989 in Eastern Europe and the numerous, sometimes unanticipated, problems that arose in their wake. We will consider the political, social and economic ramifications of chEastern Europe’s attempted post-Communist transformation, looking at such topics as the difficulty of building democratic institutions, the rise of the radical right and xenophobic nationalism, the troubled implementation of market-oriented economic reforms, the problem of how to dispense justice for the crimes of the Communist past, and effects of the transition on gender relations. Our approach will be interdisciplinary, incorporating ideas from historians, journalists, sociologists, anthropologists, philosophers and economists.
Requirements: For each class, you will turn in 1-2 typed pages with your responses to the week’s readings. These responses, along with your verbal participation in class, will be worth 50% of your grade. You will also write a 12-15 page research paper on a topic of your choosing (but you should consult with me before you decide).
Texts: The following have been ordered at the Seminary Co-op Bookstore
4 Gale Stokes, The Walls Came Tumbling Down: The Collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe
(Oxford University Press, 1993)
Tina Rosenberg, The Haunted Land (Random House, 1995)
Stephen White, Judy Batt and Paul G. Louis, eds, Developments in Central and Eastern European
Politics 2 (Duke University Press, 1998)
4Eric Gordy, The Culture of Power in Serbia: Nationalism and the Destruction of Alternatives,
(Penn State University Press, 1999)
Katherine Verdery, What was Socialism, and What Comes Next? (Princeton University Press,
All of these books have also been placed on reserve at Harper Library
Additional readings on the syllabus (marked with a * ) are also on reserve at Harper
March 27 Introduction: Where is Eastern Europe and What Was It Like Under Communism?
Reading: Batt, White and Louis, p. 1-14.
Recommended "Background" Reading on Eastern Europe:
Ivan Berend, Decades of Crisis: ch Central and Eastern Europe Before WWII (University of
California Press, 1998)
Joseph Rothschild, Return to Diversity: A Political History of Easchtern Europe Since WWII
(Oxford University Press, 1993)
April 3 Dissidence and Opposition Under Communism: Building Civil Society
Reading: Stokes, p. 1-48
Vaclav Havel, "The Power of the Powerless"*
Adam Michnik, "Letter from Gdansk Prison"*
April 10 The Revolutions of 1989
Reading: Stokes, p. 49-200
Slavenka Drakulic, "Forward to the Past"*
April 17 Beginning the Transition: Dealing With the Past
Reading: Tina Rosenberg, The Haunted Land (all)
April 24: Democracy and Its Discontents
Reading: White, Batt and Louis, pp.
af4 23-170, 255-279
May 1 A Just Capitalism?: Problems in Moving to a Market Economy
Reading: White, Batt and Louis, 191-233
Kazimierz Poznanski, "The Morals of Transition: Decline of Public Interest and Runaway
Reforms in Eastern Europe"*
Plus pick ONE specific country to investigate (list of articlesch to follow)
May 8 Nationalism, Violence, and the Yugoslav Wars
Reading: Stokes, p. 200-235
Eric Gordy, The Culture of Power in Serbia(all)
May 15 chGender and the Post-Socialist World
Reading: White, Batt and Louis, p.234-251
Katherine Verdery, "From Parent-State to Family Patriarchs: Gender and Nation in Contemporary
ab Dimitrina Petrova, "The Winding Road to Emancipation in Bulgaria"*
Ewa Hauser, Barbara Heyns and Jane Mansbridge, "Feminism in the Interstices of Politics and
Culture: Poland in Tchransition"*
Obrad Kesic, "Women and Gender Imagery in Bosnia: Amazons, Sluts, Victims, Witches and
Susan Gal and Gail Kligman, "Gendering Post Socialismch: Reproduction as Politics in East Central
May 22 Moving Into the New Millennium: Whither Eastern Europe?
dbchVerdery, What Was Socialism and What Comes Next? (all)
May 28 Holiday.
Papers will be due in the History Office on Friday, June 3 by 5 pm.