Memory of Everyday Collaboration with the Communist Regimes in Eastern Europe

Catégorie :Appels à communication

Date :du lundi, 21 octobre 2013 au jeudi, 24 octobre 2013

Date limite : mercredi, 15 mai 2013

Lieu :Budapest (Hongrie)

Contact :


Résumé :

One of the aims of this conference is to develop a new interpretation of ‘collaboration’ with the communist regimes by using the terms ‘cooperation’ and ‘political participation’, but also to find new directions for a field that is often disrupted by the politically charged atmosphere in which stories of cooperation are revealed.

Détails :

Call for papers

In the past 15 years two distinct research traditions have evolved concerning collaboration with the communist regimes in Eastern Europe in the second half of the 20th century. One of them concentrates on the proliferation of public history, highlighting the experiences of specific victims and perpetrators, and discusses the complex issues of building and interpreting narratives about secret agents and the hunt for them. The other more recently emerging perspective emphasizes the nature and multitude of memories of these experiences, and the routine and extraordinary everyday forms of collaboration and resistance. By now it is clear that one cannot understand the stories of resistance without the stories about collaborators and denouncers, but it still seems difficult to surpass the normative kind of interpretation of the “agent-hunting” stories.

One of the aims of this conference is to develop a new interpretation of ‘collaboration’ with the communist regimes by using the terms ‘cooperation’ and ‘political participation’, but also to find new directions for a field that is often disrupted by the politically charged atmosphere in which stories of cooperation are revealed. It promises to reveal not only a wealth of ‘local’ and comparative information about cooperation hitherto unknown, but also seeks to interrogate the ways in which postsocialist cultures produce knowledge about ‘collaborators’ or ‘political participants’, and draw a distinction between ‘extraordinary’ and ‘ordinary’ histories. By intertwining the questions of knowledge production and the writing of the history of cooperation, the conference will yield methodologically sophisticated insights into how we construct such a past. The aim is also to better understand the often neglected national differences in East-Central Europe, instead of simply considering the Soviet bloc as a uniform entity.
The conference will focus on the micro-historical and the comparative, a combination that will offer in-depth understandings of the different ways in which the processes of cooperation played out in different socialist societies. These comparative everyday approaches have been carried out for
Fascist and Nazi regimes, but not in a similarly systematic fashion for the communist ones, and a broader comparative history of the ways in which these regimes were experienced on the everyday level is still missing. The conference hopes to elicit papers that explore issues which focus on the
everyday experiences of collaboration (e.g. socio-historical biographies of everyday secret agents and analyses of communities surrounding them).

The other important question to be addressed is who is a collaborator? The papers will investigate the role of collaboration in shaping the everyday life of people during the socialist period. To what extent did the totalitarian system influence the private and public life of ordinary members of society? The conjecture of the conference is that not only the private life stories and community networks were transformed, but also the modes of resolving conflicts, interest-based negotiations and the way of representing memories. Given the vast abundance of richly detailed archival evidence and living testimonials, the selected papers will try to construct a different and dynamic context of private and public life using the biographical and the micro-level perspective.

Two main sets of questions are central in this conference:
1) the function, social representation and history of national institutions, secret police archives and institutes of national memory studying the history of collaboration with the communist dictatorships (for example the BStU in Germany, the Institute of National Remembrance (InstytutPamięci Narodowej – IPN) in Poland, or the secret police archives in other East-Central European
countries). We welcome papers that address any of the following questions concerning the history of these institutions and debates on collaboration in the last twenty years: What kinds of memory of collaboration with the communist regime are regionally specific? What are the differences between the narratives concerning the collaboration in different Eastern European countries? How and why do the practices of forgetting and remembering collaboration develop? What were the effects of collaboration on everyday life and how was it represented in regional memories? How do the memories of collaboration influence national historiographies, and how do historians interpret collaboration? How does public culture represent the collaborators? And finally, how do the local national narratives of the past incorporate the public history concerning collaboration during the communist period?

2) the social and micro-historical use of secret police documents; life histories or case studies of individuals or small groups of individuals who were once connected to the institutional infrastructure of Communist dictatorships (‘collaborators’ or ‘cooperators’ with the communist regime). The conference will focus on three important sections of the party-states that used to be instrumental in the routine everyday functioning of these regimes: a. local rank-and-file party organizations (e.g. party members as cooperators), b. professional ‘think-tank’ institutions in economics, public policy and education, c. civil ‘collaborators’ with the secret services. The objective is not simply to take into account the differences and similarities, but to understand their cultural and social consequences and how they were perceived by citizens of the former Eastern bloc.

Speakers are invited who carry out research on memories and collaboration during the communist period in Eastern Europe, and/or study the establishing process of secret police archives and institutes of national memory. We seek original research papers devoted to key issues of regional histories that
apply a micro-historical or comparative perspective.

Language of the conference: English.
The organizers will pay the travel expenses, and provide both accommodation and meals for the conference speakers.
We will publish a volume based on the conference by a distinguished international publisher in English. We will provide proofreading for those who are not native speakers.

Please send an abstract of no more than 300 words and a short biographical statement together with a brief biography (CVs not accepted). The conference organizers will ask the authors of selected papers (max. 10 000 words) to submit their final conference papers a month before the conference to allow for distribution to chairs and commentators.

Deadline of sending abstracts: May 15, 2013.

Proposals should be submitted to the organizers by email:
Sándor Horváth
Head of Department for Contemporary History, Institute of History, Research Centre for the Humanities, Hungarian Academy of Sciences

The conference organizers:

The conference is a joint initiative of the Institute of History at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (, and the European Network Remembrance and Solidarity ( The conference will take place in Budapest (Hungary) between 21 and 24 October 2013, and will be hosted by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. The attendance at the conference is limited to a maximum of 20 participants. A scientific committee of representatives of the organizing institutes will evaluate and select the papers.

The members of the organizing committee:

Sándor Horváth (Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Péter Apor (Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Research Centre for the Humanities, Institute of History), Paweł Sowiński (Polish Academy of Sciences, Institute of Political Studies), Marína Zavacká (Slovak Academy of Sciences, Institute of History), Matej Spurný (Czech Academy of Sciences, Institute of Contemporary History), Zoltán Novák (Romanian Academy, Gheorghe Sincai Institute for Social Studies and the Humanities, Târgu Mureş), Georg Herbstritt (Office of the Federal Commissioner for the Records of the State Security Service of the former GDR), Stefano Bottoni (Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Research Centre for the Humanities, Institute of History).

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