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Weapons of Mass Instruction

Schoolbooks and Democratization in Multiethnic Central Europe

Charles Ingrao

History schoolbooks are part of a much broader legitimation process through which every society's ruling elite secures the uncritical acceptance of the existing political, social and economic system, together with the cultural attributes that re ect its hegemony. In central Europe, the need to justify the creation of nation-states at the beginning and end of the twentieth century has generated proprietary accounts that have pitted the region's national groups against one another. Post-communist democratization has intensi ed these divisions as political leaders feel obliged to employ hoary myths—and avoid inconvenient facts— about their country's history in order to survive the electoral process. In this way they succumb to the "Frankenstein Syndrome" by which the history taught in the schools destroys those who dare to challenge the arti cial constructs of the past. The article surveys history teaching throughout central Europe, with special emphasis on the Yugoslav successor states.

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Jewish Messianism and Revolutionary Utopias in Central Europe

Erich Fromm’s Early Writings (1922–1930)

Michael Löwy

Erich Fromm (1900–1980) is well known for his essays on social psychology, most of them written after his exile in the United States at the end of the 1930s. But his lesser known early works – from 1922 to 1930 – are very creative, as well as politically radical, and deserve to be discussed. They have some common aspects: a messianic understanding of Judaism; a Freudian-Marxist rejection of capitalism as a socio-economic system; and the revolutionary aspiration for a socialist utopia with religious roots. These elements together shaped an original and subversive thought.

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Gabriel Pirický

Local populations in Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia, and to a lesser degree in the Czech Republic, experienced much interaction with Muslims throughout the course of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when the Ottomans, as well as the Crimean Tatars, invaded the Kingdom of Hungary and waged wars against the Polish-Lithuanian state and the Habsburg Hereditary Lands. The Ottoman era has usually been reflected in the history textbooks of these four countries under the headings "Turkish Wars" or "Ottoman Expansion." Since the collapse of the Iron Curtain in 1989, all four ex-communist states have been involved in rewriting textbooks, although the perception of the Ottomans and Muslims has not changed in all cases. Without claiming to map the entire historical presentation of the Ottomans, this article demonstrates the polyphony found in the textbooks of this region. By analyzing secondary school educational materials in all four languages, it is possible to identify stereotypes, prejudices, and distortions within the perception of the Ottoman Turks.

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Social Quality

A New Concern in Hungary

Zsuzsa Széman

Following the systemic change which affected Eastern and Central Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Western experts considered that individual countries had different chances of catching up to the West. According to Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former US National Security Adviser, the Central European countries would take at least ten years to become pluralistic, free-market democracies. Five countries (Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia and Estonia) were thought to have better chances of transforming themselves into successful liberal democracies, and so to come near to Western standards in the foreseeable future.

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Victor Neumann

This article explores the controversial issue of concepts defining the East-Central European Romanian and Hungarian identities (nem, neam, popor, nép). It specifically focuses on the translation and adaptation of the German concept of nation by examining the inclusive or exclusive meanings this concept acquired in these two languages and political cultures during the first half of the nineteenth century.

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Leon Yudkin

Following the First World War, writers sought to articulate both a personal position and a position within the public domain, well illustrated by the 'Prague Circle' in the heart of the failing Austro-Hungarian Empire. Jews occupied a liminal position in Czech society, straddling three identities: Jewish, Czech and German. Max Brod became the primary historian of this 'circle', which included writers as diverse as Franz Kafka, Franz Werfel, Leo Perutz and Gustav Meyrink. Prague was central to their writings. Here was a borderland position crying out for a voice in the contemporary world.

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From “Liberal Minimum” to the “Complete Catalog of Human Rights”

On Central Concepts of Hungarian Postdissident Liberals

Ferenc Laczó

This article analyzes how five leading Hungarian postdissident liberal thinkers conceptually constructed their view of liberalism in the early years of postcommunism. Studying Beszélő, the most signi cant liberal journal during the early years of representative democracy, it shows how they did so through references to political “threats” and the idea of a “liberal minimum” (János Kis), local liberal and democratic traditions and “progressive patriotism” (Miklós Szabó), the ongoing “liberal-conservative revolution” and the creation of a “new political community” (Gáspár Miklós Tamás), antipolitics and “expertise” (György Konrád), and the “complete catalog of human rights” and the agenda of “modernization” (István Eörsi), respectively. Next to its conceptual analysis of heavily influential individual thinkers, the article discusses the ambition of postdissident Hungarian liberals to harmonize liberal and democratic tenets. Last but not least, it elaborates on the left-wing origins of many of their central concepts that, as suggested here, ultimately hindered liberalism's assumption of a central position in the new political system.

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Stephen Gross

Over the past decade Germany has had one of the most successful

economies in the developed world. Despite the ongoing Euro crisis unemployment

has fallen below 7 percent, reaching its lowest levels since German

reunification in 1990. Germany’s youth unemployment is among the

lowest in Europe, far beneath the European average.1 One of the most

important engines of the German economy today, and in fact throughout

the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, has been its export sector. As Ludwig

Erhard, West Germany’s Economics Minister during the Wirtschaftswunder

of the 1950s remarked: “foreign trade is quite simply the core and

premise of our economic and social order.”2 According to various estimates,

today exports and imports of goods and services account for nearly a half of

German GDP—up from only a quarter in 1990. Germany is one of only three

economies that do over a trillion dollars worth of exports a year, the other

two being the United States and China.

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Máiréad Nic Craith

Tomasz Kamusella (2009), The Politics of Language and Nationalism in Modern Central Europe (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan), 2009, 1140pp, Hb: $235, ISBN: 978-0-230-55070-4; Pb: $34.95 ISBN: 978-0-230-29473-8 (June 2011).

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Women, Gender and Conflict

Reflecting upon the Gendered Harms of War

Kirsten Campbell

Vesna Nikolić-Ristanović, ed., Women, Violence and War: Wartime Victimization of Refugees in the Balkans, trans. Borislav Radović, Budapest and New York: Central European University Press, 2000, 300 pp., £13.95 (pb), ISBN 978-963-9116-60-3.

Vesna Nikolić-Ristanović, ed., Zene, nasilje i rat (Women, violence, and war), Belgrade: Institut za kriminološka i sociološka istraživanja, 1995, 207 pp., €10.00 (pb), no ISBN mentioned.