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Sozialismus als kulturelles System


The Many Faces of Late Socialism. The Individual in the 'Eastern Bloc', 1953-1988

Drittmittelgefördertes Forschungsprojekt

Finanzierung: UoC Advanced Postdoc Grant (09/2015-03/2017)

Projektleitung: Prof. Dr. Maike Lehmann
Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter: Sebastian Lambertz
Studentische Hilfskraft: Andrea Thubauville

Kontakt: uoc-manyfaces(at)uni-koeln.de

How did individuals, who grew up under state socialism, experience and, in turn, influence what we now call Late Socialism? Traditionally, individuals figured prominently in narratives about state socialism’s repressive character. While persecuted dissidents represented the ideal of the unfaltering, independent mind (Žižek 1999) at the time, people like Jan Palach burning himself in protest against Soviet intervention 1969 or the almost 10 million individuals joining Solidarność in 1981 are also firmly integrated into today’s narrative of Central Eastern Europe’s inevitable return to the fold of the free world... [mehr]

'Geteilte Welten'. Intellektuelle Begegnungen im späten Kalten Krieg


Projektleitung: Prof. Dr. Maike Lehmann

Der Intellektuelle ist tot! Ganz in Sinne dieser 1983 von Jean François Lyotard aufgestellten Behauptung befasst sich die jüngere Zeitgeschichte kaum mit Intellektuellen, wenn sie den politischen, sozialen wie weltanschaulichen Umbrüchen der 1970er und 1980er Jahre nachspürt. Dabei verweisen nicht nur die zeitgenössischen Diskussionen um die Rolle und das Schicksal von Intellektuellen in den Medien, dass sie ihre Funktion als Projektionsflächen für gesellschaftliche Selbstverständigungsprozesse keineswegs eingebüßt hatten. Auch als Akteure fanden sich Intellektuelle wiederholt zwischen den Fronten politischer und sozialer Auseinandersetzungen des späten Kalten Krieges wieder – sei dies als ‚Staatsfeinde‘, die sich Hausdurchsuchungen oder Zwangseinweisungen in die Psychiatrie ausgesetzt sahen, oder als Aktivisten, die Politiker berieten, mediale Aufmerksamkeit provozierten oder sozialen Bewegungen ein Gesicht verliehen...[mehr]

Interpreting Socialism. Individual Engagements with State Policies in the ČSR after 1953


Sebastian Lambertz

Betreuer: Prof. Maike Lehmann (Universität Köln), Prof. Martin Schulze Wessel (LMU-München)

This project posits that the perception of socialist ideology and policy by their recipients was considerably more heterogeneous than the socialist rulers in Eastern Europe and many Western observers thought. Between acceptance and opposition, a wide range of different interpretations of socialist values and ideas showed that the ideological guidelines provided by state and party authorities were open to individual appropriation and adaptation to different situations. As a result, the socialist ideology was used by people to make sense of their lives both in a manner intended by the Party and in ways, which at first sight might appear to  contradict the ideological guidelines.

In socialist Czechoslovakia this was especially important in the time between 1953 and 1963. Starting with the protests against the currency reform of June 1st 1953 several events – such as Nikita Khrushchevs secret speech – called into question the legitimization of socialist rule in the country. In connection with this, state and party had to find new ways of re-establishing their relationship to the working class and other parts of society again and again. This not only changed the way socialist values and ideas were perceived by both sides but also provided new ones.

How Czechoslovak citizens – which included party members as well – interpreted and adapted the provided values and ideas in the constant state of crisis of the mentioned years is what my project investigates. By analysing petitions and appeals written to state and party authorities by Czechoslovak citizens I explore, how these individual perceptions influenced the relationship between rulers and ruled. I argue that a partial openness of the ideological discourse enabled the people to adapt at least parts of it to their own environment in many different situations. This increased the chance of agreement with underlying socialist values and ideas, which in turn stabilised socialist rule in Czechoslovakia during the sample period.

To achieve this, I consider petitions and appeals as expressions of the adaption of the values and ideas, which were important for the respective writer. The authors present their own interpretation of the provided guidelines against the background of their lives, in this manner entering negotiations with state and party authorities about how to interpret socialism. Juxtaposing the authors’ interpretation with the official one(s) publicized in printed press will allow me to analyse the appropriation process and to identify those values and ideas, which turned out to been meaningful to the individuals.

Redefining Community in the Late Soviet Union

Prof. Dr. Maike Lehmann

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