Party, Security Services, and Government Archives in International Perspective: Perceptions of Society at the Top in East Central Europe, 1945-1981

  • Termín: Od 01. 12. 2016 do 02. 12. 2016
  • Místo konání: Ústav pro studium totalitních režimů, Siwiecova 2, Praha 3

Anotace příspěvků v anglickém jazyce v rozsahu 300 až 500 znaků prosíme zaslat do 31. května 2016 na adresu: nebo Konference bude probíhat v anglickém jazyce.


Thursday 1 December 2016

13:30 Opening Statements: Zdeněk Hazdra, Director of the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, and Jiří Pehe, Director of New York University Prague

14:00 Muriel Blaive (ISTR): Introduction

First Panel: From Postwar to Communism

 Chair: Jiří Pehe (NYU)

14:10 Rosamund Johnston (NYU): To Create the Perfect Listener: Polling at the Czechoslovak Ministry of Information during the Third Republic, 1945-1948

14:30 Discussion

15:00 Muriel Blaive (ISTR): Perceptions of Society in Czechoslovak Politburo and Secret Police Archives, 1945-1956

15:20 Discussion

15:50 Nicolas Maslowski (Centre of French Civilization): The Emergence of Popular Opinion in Polish Politburo Archives, 1945-1956

16:10 Discussion

16:40 Coffee Break

Second Panel: Deeper Into Communism

 Chair: Molly Pucci (Trinity College Dublin)

17:10 Marián Lóži (ISTR): Implementation and Results of Stalinist Legitimization Practices. The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia at the Regional Level (1948-1952)

17:30 Discussion

18:00 Adrian Grama (CEU): “Fear of the Masses”: Workers, Communists and the Question of Physical Violence in Postwar Romania (1945-1950)

18:20 Discussion

18:50 Break

Keynote Lecture

19:00 Sonia Combe (Centre Marc Bloch): Who Was Afraid of Whom? Cross Examination of Stasi Files and Records of the Writers‘ Union in the GDR (1961-1989)

20:00 Dinner


Friday 2 December 2016

Third Panel: From Stalinism to Real Existing Socialism

 Chair: Ondřej Matějka (ISTR)

10:00 Molly Pucci (Trinity College Dublin): Perceptions of Society at the Top in East Central Europe, 1945-1981

10:20 Discussion

10:50 Christian Axboe Nielsen (Aahrus University): Enforcing Brotherhood and Unity: The Yugoslav State Security Service and Everyday Nationalism, 1945-1980

11:10 Discussion

11:40 Tomáš Sniegoň (Lund University): Novocherkassk 1962. Social Riots of Soviet Workers Through the Eyes of the KGB Leadership

12:00 Discussion

12:30 Lunch Break

 Fourth Panel: From Real Existing Socialism to the Beginning of the End

Chair Adéla Gjuričová (Institute of Contemporary History)

13:30 Machteld Venken (Vienna University): How Universal Was Communist Children’s Television? Representing Borders in the Polish Series Four Tank-Men and a Dog

13:50 Discussion

14:20 Libora Oates-Indruchová (Graz University): From an Idea to a Manuscript: Gatekeeping and Negotiating in Czech Scholarly Publishing during Normalisation

14:40 Discussion

15:10 Miroslaw Szumilo (Maria Curie-Sklodowska University/Institute of National Remembrance): Public Opinion and Decision-Making by the Communist Leadership in Poland, 1980-1981

15:30 Discussion

16:00 Coffee Break

 Fifth Panel: From Failing to Predict the Future to Dealing with the Past

 Chair: Muriel Blaive (ISTR)

16:30 Jill Massino (UNC Charlotte): ‘With Tears in My Eyes, I Appeal to You, Comrade Elena Ceauşescu’: Letters to the Communist Leadership in Late-Socialist Romania

16:50 Discussion

17:20 Martin Dimitrov (Tulane University): Anticipating Crises in Autocracies by Collecting Information on Levels of Popular Discontent

17:40 Discussion

18:10 Veronika Pehe (EUI Florence): Authenticating the Past: The Role of the Security Services Archives and the Figure of the Agent in Contemporary Representations of Socialism

18:30 Discussion

19:00 Nicolas Maslowski (Centre of French Civilization): Conclusions

19:30 Dinner

List of Participants

Muriel Blaive (Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, Prague)

Sonia Combe (Centre Marc Bloch, Berlin)

Adrian Grama (CEU Budapest)

Adéla Gjuričová (Institute of Contemporary History, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague)

Rosamund Johnston (NYU New York)

Marián Lóži (Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, Prague)

Ondřej Matějka (Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, Prague)

Nicolas Maslowski (Centre of French Civilization, Warsaw)

Jill Massino (University of North Carolina, Charlotte)

Christian Axboe Nielsen (Aarhus University, Denmark)

Libora Oates-Indruchová (Graz University, Austria)

Jiří Pehe (New York University Prague)

Veronika Pehe (European University Institute, Florence)

Molly Pucci (Trinity College Dublin)

Tomáš Sniegon (Lund University, Sweden)

Miroslaw Szumilo (Maria Curie-Sklodowska University, Lublin/Institute of National Remembrance)

Machteld Venken (Vienna University)

Call for Papers:

Studies of GDR and Soviet communism have amply demonstrated that a permanent negotiation process was at play between rulers and ruled. Communist authorities were keen on legitimizing their domination and on keeping the political and social situation under control. They were deeply concerned with the approbation, or lack thereof, that the “public”, “citizens”, “ordinary people” or “workers” might have conferred to its policies. The violent protests that periodically emerged (1953 in the GDR, 1956 in Hungary, 1956, 1968, 1970, 1976 or 1980-81 in Poland, for instance) confirmed that stability was the most desirable state for regimes that maintained themselves by force – or by the threat to use force. Discussions at the top and decisions to ensure a certain well-being of the population are thus easy to trace and analyze. On the other hand, people accepted this rule at conditions which they negotiated to some extent (“I sign this paper, but you let my child go to university”; “I write reports on this colleague but you promote me to the position which I deserve”; “I join the party but you let me buy this plot of land to build my house”, etc.) and sometimes even participated themselves to the repression policy (denunciations, membership in the Militia, etc.), so much so that the border between the ruler and the ruled ran through each individual. A “tacit minimum consensus” (Thomas Lindenberger) was established between both parties and to study the very notion of “popular opinion” (Paul Corner) becomes indispensable if we are to understand what happened under communism – and beyond. By studying the degree of interest from the regime concerning its own popularity on the basis of Party (Politburo, but also Central Committee and even regional and local archives), Security Services or other types of archives (national institutes of public opinion, ministries, etc.), this workshop’s aim is to reflect on the exercise of power and popular opinion under the communist regimes. Our approach is centred around the notions of social history of domination, everyday life, Herrschaft (domination), Eigen-Sinn (agency), sociology of actors, practices of domination, etc. It is by nature interdisciplinary and is combining a historical approach “from below” (i.e. centred on the population in all aspects of everyday life) with a study of decision-making by the elites. This international workshop is the first of three conferences to be held in the frame of the research project Rulers and Ruled in Poland and Czechoslovakia (1945–1968): Practical and Methodological Challenges in the Historicization of a Complex Relationship financed by the Grant Academy of the Czech Republic. While the project is expressly dedicated to Poland and Czechoslovakia and to the period 1945–1968, we encourage for comparative purposes the submission of papers dealing with other countries of East Central Europe and with post-1968 period. Selected texts from this workshop will be included in the final, eponymous collective publication of the project. We invite interested scholars to send a 300 to 500 words abstract and a short bio to Muriel Blaive and Nicolas Maslowski at and Advanced PhD students and fresh post-docs will also be considered. Travel and accomodation, as well as part of the meals, will be provided.