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.
Postcolonial studies and postsocialism in Eastern Europe
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.
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.
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.
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.
A Remark on the Invisibility of Ideology in Popular Education
School history atlases are used almost exclusively as required textbooks in Central and Eastern Europe, where the model of the ethnolinguistic nation-state rules supreme. My hypothesis is that these atlases are used in this region because a graphic presentation of the past makes it possible for students to grasp the idea of the presumably "natural" or "inescapable" overlapping of historical, linguistic, and demographic borders, the striving for which produced the present-day ethnolinguistic nation-states. Conversely, school history atlases provide a framework to indoctrinate the student with the beliefs that ethnolinguistic nationalism is the sole correct kind of nationalism, and that the neighboring polities have time and again unjustly denied the "true and natural" frontiers to the student's nation-state.
The Role of the State
Nearly 30 years of transformation of the sociopolitical and legal, socioeconomical and financial, sociocultural and welfare, and socioenvironmental dimensions in both Central and Eastern Europe, including Ukraine, has led to a change of the social quality of daily circumstances. On the one hand, the interconnection and reciprocity of these four relevant dimensions of societal life is the underlying cause of such changes, and on the other, the state as main actor of the sociopolitical and legal dimension is the initiator of those changes. Applying the social quality approach, I will reflect in this article on the consequences of these changes, especially in Ukraine. In comparison, the dominant Western interpretation of the “welfare state” will also be discussed.
With Brexit, the European Union has entered the first phase of unprecedented and potentially wider political disintegration. This is a reflection of the growing division between the EU’s core political agenda, defined under Germany’s increasingly uncompromising hegemonial leadership throughout the past decade, and the political preferences of the periphery in Southern and Central-Eastern Europe. This article critically examines the multiple effects of Germany’s dominant leadership role in the EU since the onset of the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis on the basis of a liberal intergovernmentalist perspective. It also considers future perspectives for German leadership in the EU after Brexit. As Angela Merkel enters her fourth term as German chancellor, she faces growing domestic political pressures and dwindling support for German leadership in the EU. German leadership is therefore more constrained than ever at a time when it is urgently needed to steer the EU away from further disintegration and towards lasting consolidation. The latter will require Berlin to engage profoundly in rebuilding a multilateral EU leadership constellation with France and Poland, which develops an inclusive policy agenda that represents the growing diversity of national interests amongst the remaining EU-27 member states.
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.
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.