Eastern Europe was until recently, for Jews in the rest of the world, an area of memories of disaster and oppression. It was a region that was wiped from the Jewish world and from which Jews fled. Dramatic developments and rapid change have altered the picture. Eastern Europe now presents us with glimmers of opportunity and challenges that must be met. This brief paper outlines these challenges and opportunities. It does not propose solutions. It is intended to be a starting point and basis for discussion.
An Essential Resource
Rochelle Goldberg Ruthchild
Women and Gender in Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, and Eurasia. A Comprehensive Bibliography. Volume I. Southeastern and East Central Europe. Edited by Irina Livezeanu with June Pachuta Farris for the Association for Women in Slavic Studies (AWSS), Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2007, xvi + 892 pp., (hb) ISBN 978-0-76560-737-9.
Women and Gender in Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, and Eurasia. A Comprehensive Bibliography. Volume II. Russia, the Non-Russian Peoples of the Russian Federation, and the Successor States of the Soviet Union. Edited by Mary Zirin and Christine D. Worobec for the Association for Women in Slavic Studies, Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2007, xix + 1200 pp., $388.95 (for both volumes together), hb; ISBN 978-0-76560-737-9.
Postcolonial studies and postsocialism in Eastern Europe
The introduction to this special section explores the ways in which postcolonial studies contribute a deeper understanding of postsocialist change in Central and Eastern Europe. Since the collapse of socialism, anthropological and other social science studies of Eastern Europe have highlighted deep divides between “East” and “West” and drawn attention to the ways in which socialist practices persist into the postsocialist period. We seek to move beyond discourses of the East/West divide by examining the postsocialist context through the lens of postcolonial studies. We look at four aspects of postcolonial studies and explore their relevance for understanding postsocialist Eastern Europe: orientalism, nation and identity, hybridity, and voice. These themes are particular salient from the perspective of gender and sexuality, key concepts through which both postcolonialism and postsocialism can be understood. We thus pay particular attention to the exchange of ideas between East/West, local/global, and national/international arenas.
Andreea Deciu Ritivoi
Before identifying the roles of women writers and intellectuals in the current political climate in Eastern Europe, and particularly in Romania, let me first qualify the climate itself, as I see it.1 Over a decade a er the collapse of communism, the political situation in Romania is still very much a transitional one, defined by competing cultural and moral codes, widespread societal mistrust (intensified by the recent scandals surrounding collaboration with the political police, the Securitate) and anxiety about the future. In this context, women intellectuals in Romania have o en found themselves in difficult positions, accused by their more established male colleagues of trying to introduce new intellectual concepts and values on the cultural market for the sole purpose of drawing attention to themselves, opportunistically and in a facile manner.
This article examines the unintended effects of policy on the cross-border health care experiences of persons from the new Central and Eastern European (CEE) states of the European Union (EU) during a time of major transition. While permitted to travel freely, most individuals from the new member states are not yet authorised to work in Germany. As a result, they face many everyday forms of exclusion, including lack of access to medical services. Drawing upon ethnographic fieldwork, this article examines experiences of patients from newly acceded CEE countries. Cross-border health care highlights instrumentality because implementation has consisted only of patchwork policies and is characterised by insufficient attention to marginalised populations, such as those who are driven to seek work abroad due to economic asymmetries across borders. In the current transitional period, evidence suggests a disconnect as social rights struggle to catch up to economic ones.
Images of Eastern Europe in World Regional Geography Textbooks in the United States
This article discusses contemporary western representations of the former Cold War geopolitical "other," Eastern Europe, conveyed by illustrations in contemporary American world regional geography textbooks. I would like to explore certain geopolitical biases in the pictures' general messages, such as tendencies to highlight the transitional, problematic, and marginal at the expense of the essential and centripetal characteristics and landscapes. Images of Eastern Europe tend to marginalize it from the rest of Europe by minimizing visual references to its physical landscape and its role in European history; overemphasizing local problems connotes the need for the supranational assistance of the expanding European Union. Overall, this article attempts to reveal various Cold War legacies and "marginalizing" tendencies in visual representations of Eastern Europe, thus contributing to the visual and popular cultural turns in geography and geopolitical studies.
On the Phenomenon of Communist Nostalgia in Slovenia and Poland
The article examines the phenomenon of communist/post-socialist nostalgia, with a focus on Slovenia and Poland, through the central issue of identity, memory and the concrete manifestations of nostalgia. The emergence of a somewhat distinct 'Eastern European' identity and the East--West divide in historical and cultural terms is explored through several historical events of the European project between the World Wars. The revival of the communist brands, commercial products, symbols, music and film is the core of the communist 'renaissance', witnessing mainly the need for encountering the past, the selectiveness of memory and the right and emotional need to value one's own personal history and past.
The Case of Belarus
There is a stereotype that such former Soviet republics as Russia, Ukraine and Belarus are totally Orthodox. However, this statement is not entirely correct, as part of the population in these countries belong to many different churches, while a large part have rather eclectic religious and para-religious beliefs. In the case of Belarus, a major part of the population belongs to two Christian confessions, Orthodox and Catholic, while many other confessions and new religious movements also exist. Religious pluralism is a practical reality in Belarus which has the reputation of the most religiously tolerant post-Soviet country. Contemporary laws provide the legal basis for the tolerant relations in the country, and there is a historical tradition of religious tolerance in Belarus. Research data from the EVS studies and national surveys are used.
The Case of Lubuskie, Poland
Robert A. Parkin
While it can claim some historical depth, essentially Lubuskie is a new province in western Poland that emerged from the local government reforms of 1999. It is thus located in a part of the country taken over by Poland from Germany in 1945, which as a consequence experienced a complete replacement of populations (Polish for German) at that time. This makes the province a useful case in which to study the emergence of a new identity over time. At present its identity is not as strong as in the case of its neighbours like Silesia and Wielkopolska, though it is being cultivated where possible by some local bureaucrats and politicians. It is argued that it is nonetheless justified to study such cases in order to determine and account for differences in the strength of regional identities in the same nationstate. The wider framework is regional identities within Europe as part of the process of European integration and its articulation with nation-states in the EU.
Separating Heads and Bodies in Eastern Europe
What remains of the Soviet identity for those who grew up in an empire that started in the Baltic sea and ended in Kamchatka? What kind of post-Soviet cultural combos have been produced afterwards? Was it bizarre to listen to Led Zeppelin and Nirvana while being targeted with nuclear missiles from the West? In a retrospective way and engaging with the collective memory of his home country, Estonia, the author reflects on different narratives of Europeanisation, shame and peripherality and the way local people embodied them.