Akademie Neubeuern Summer School
Arbeitsgruppe 5: Cultures and Societies of Central and Eastern Europe
This working group will explore a variety of topics regarding the cultures, societies, economies, and polities of the geographic region loosely defined as Central and Eastern Europe. Although the region is heterogeneous and each modern nation has its own rich and complicated local history, they share certain legacies. Stretching from Podgorica on the Adriatic Sea to Gdansk on the Baltic, the seminar focuses on those countries that once sat on the other side of the Iron Curtain but emerged from their various experiments with state socialism in 1989/1991 to become members of NATO and/or the European Union. Although now united with the West politically or militarily, many citizens of Central and Eastern Europe maintain a strong sense of national identity and an unwillingness to be supplicants to Brussels or Berlin. EU members like Poland and Hungary are now flirting with decidedly illiberal forms of democracy, while others struggle with poverty, unemployment, emigration, aging populations, and collapsing birth rates. The working group offers a broad survey of both historical and contemporary topics in Central and East European Studies. Students will explore the varied influences of Orthodox Christianity and Islam on the region, as well as the critical impacts of modernization, nationalism, and gender politics. Further topics will include overviews of war, communism, post-communism, public memory, population, public health, and the situation of refugees. One full session will also be dedicated to discussing methodology, research skills, and publication strategies for those interested in working specifically in the field of Central and East European Studies.