Historicizing this period necessarily entails a reflection on the “pre-history” of the transition, focusing on the different projections of regime change elaborated and debated by the dissident and technocratic expert circles during the 1980s, and tracing the way the very narrative of transition became a key component of the political struggles. Thus, the project entails not only the analysis of policies and societal reactions but also that of the immense corpus of knowledge which shaped these policies, starting with the very model of transition which was transferred from the academic sphere to the political one. Obviously, an engagement with different social-scientific knowledge-regimes and methodological specificities requires the cooperation of different disciplines.
The historical reconstruction of “what went wrong” is meant to contribute to the rethinking of the modalities of interaction of academia and politics in a moment of deep moral, institutional and epistemological crisis. In order to understand the current situation and draw some lesson for the future, we need to reflect critically on the contribution of academic knowledge to facing societal challenges. The analysis of paradigms of transitology offers ample food for thought. Hence, the participants in the project will critically reconsider the various scripts of post-socialist social, economic and cultural transformation as formulated by scholarly and expert communities, focusing especially on cognitive dissonances among the different actors, which shaped the process of transition and led to increasing gaps between spaces of experience and horizons of expectation.
The project will be implemented between 1 November 2019 and 31 October 2022, and envisages the following activities: regular workshops, individual and team research work, international conferences, preparing research results for publication, other forms of dissemination reaching broader public and higher education institutions (web-based and media platforms), curriculum development on contemporary history of the region.
The direct beneficiary group is a cohort of young social scientists from six countries in East Central Europe, who will be brought together to develop, under the supervision of a group of established scholars, the analytical instruments to interrogate critically the capacities of their disciplines to meet the challenges of our future. The indirect beneficiaries are a number of interest groups – academics, public intellectuals, NGOs, participants in public debates and politicians – who possess the authority and resources to bring their knowledge to bear on societal decision-making and raise public awareness on major critical issues of our time.
It is funded by the Porticus Foundation.