History, Legacy and Social Transformation

This grouping builds on CEES’ longstanding strengths concerning the historical processes at work within the former socialist region and has broadened since 2008 to incorporate legacy issues and more recent societal shifts across the region.

Professor Geoff Swain’s recent research includes a biographical examination of Tito (published by I B Tauris, 2011). Building on his earlier studies of Tito’s pre-war and wartime career, this biography considers in detail the dramatic switch from reform to reaction which occurred in Yugoslavia in the 1960s. Central here was the relationship Tito established with Khrushchev, linking to the theme of national aspirations under communism explored in the Latvian context through Professor Swain’s Leverhulme grant-funded project: Re-educating Latgale Youth.

Dr Jon Oldfield’s current research is structured primarily around two RCUK grants (in collaboration with Dr Denis Shaw, University of Birmingham). This work provides a first in-depth examination of the emergence of Russian geographical thought (The Landscape Concept in Russian Scientific Thought c1880s - 1991) and the significant contribution of Soviet geographers and cognate scientists to modern environmental understanding (Soviet Environment project). Dr Oldfield is also part of a new Leverhulme International Network award (2013-2015) involving leading US, UK and Russian institutions, which aims to shape the research agenda within Russian environmental history.

Professor Terry Cox has edited several volumes on issues of legacies and post-communist transformation in recent years. These have dealt with: the challenges to communist rule in Eastern Europe in and around 1956, transformation and legacy in 1989, and continuities, legacies and turning points in Polish history (with Martin Myant). He has also been developing research on state-society relations in the process of post-communist transformation, engaging with the debate on ‘the weakness of civil society’ in Eastern Europe and the relative impact of communist era legacies and post-communist developments on the development of civil society. His recent publications have drawn on findings from earlier completed surveys of interest groups and policy makers in Hungary 1994-2002 and on a Leverhulme-funded project on Policy Actors and Policy Making in Post-Communist Hungary (in collaboration with Sandor Gallai, Corvinus University Budapest) based on elite interviews with leading policy actors in four different policy areas in Hungary. He is currently working with colleagues in Hungary, Slovenia and the Czech Republic on the design and implementation of new rounds of survey research on interest groups in each country.

Dr Helen Hardman’s recent monograph Gorbachev’s export of perestroika to Eastern Europe (MUP, 2012) provides an innovative examination of the liberalisation process in Central and Eastern Europe during the late 1980s, based on archival and interview fieldwork in Hungary, Poland and Russia. This comparative project focused on an un-researched phenomenon, the communist party national conferences of 1987-1989, offering a new perspective on the democratization process in the region. Her current research is exploring systemic human rights abuses in Europe and associated court reform in Russia (in collaboration with London Metropolitan University) as well as the process of electoral reform in Central and Eastern Europe (in collaboration with Queen’s University, Belfast).