277 episodes

Interviews with Scholars of Eastern Europe about their New Books
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New Books in Eastern European Studie‪s‬ New Books Network

    • Society & Culture
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Interviews with Scholars of Eastern Europe about their New Books
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    Erik S. Herron, "Normalizing Corruption: Failures of Accountability in Ukraine" (U Michigan Press, 2020)

    Erik S. Herron, "Normalizing Corruption: Failures of Accountability in Ukraine" (U Michigan Press, 2020)

    Erik S. Herron’s Normalizing Corruption: Failures of Accountability in Ukraine (University of Michigan Press, 2020) zeroes in on the mechanisms that sustain corruption and minimize accountability: aspects that play a crucial role in the effectiveness of democratic processes. This investigation is based on rigorous analyses of data that shed light on the specificities of the accountability system in Ukraine. In Ukraine, corrupt practices seem to overwhelm political and societal life. Corruption is a ubiquitous topos that is extensively commented on by both politicians and scholars. Many connect the pervasiveness of corruption in post-Communist states with the Soviet legacy. While recognizing Soviet influences on the formation of corrupt practices in Ukraine, Herron offers to compartmentalize corruptions, which may facilitate the development of actions and activities that can help minimize corruption. While focusing on the Ukrainian case, this book also includes sections that highlight the experiences of other former Soviet countries, including Georgia, Baltic states, and Russia. 
    Normalizing Corruption: Failures of Accountability in Ukraine contributes to the study of the development of democratic practices in the states whose political history is closely connected with totalitarianism and authoritarianism.
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    • 54 min
    David Stavrou, "Zion: The Israeli Diaspora in Europe" (Pardes, 2019)

    David Stavrou, "Zion: The Israeli Diaspora in Europe" (Pardes, 2019)

    The meaning of being an immigrant has changed significantly in the 21st century. The internet, social media and networks, cost of travels, homeland products of food that one can find all over the world, working far from home – all bring new opportunities to the idea of living in one place, but still feel deep belonging with the homeland.
    Growing numbers of Israelis are living today in Europe. The book, Zion: The Israeli Diaspora in Europe (Pardes, 2019; in Hebrew), gives us a wide picture of their lives, challenges but also shows us a glimpse for a broader perspective around being an immigrant and having an hybrid identity.
    Some of these Israelis still work remotely in companies based in Israel, in Hebrew, visiting Israel once a month since it is cheap and takes only a few hours of travel. They speak Hebrew with their kids, meet with other Israelis who live in their European city, and use Israeli media. Many of their parents or grandparents left Europe after the Holocaust or a bit before, to create a homeland for the Jewish people in Zion. Now, their children and grandchildren are moving back to Europe and make there, their new homes. In his book, journalist David Stavrou brings us their stories, stories that invite other immigrants and scholars to rethink about the meaning of living in two homes.
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    • 1 hr 1 min
    Rachel Applebaum, "Empire of Friends: Soviet Power and Socialist Internationalism in Cold War Czechoslovakia" (Cornell UP, 2019)

    Rachel Applebaum, "Empire of Friends: Soviet Power and Socialist Internationalism in Cold War Czechoslovakia" (Cornell UP, 2019)

    The familiar story of Soviet power in Cold War Eastern Europe focuses on political repression and military force. But in Empire of Friends: Soviet Power and Socialist Internationalism in Cold War Czechoslovakia (Cornell University Press, 2019), Rachel Applebaum shows how the Soviet Union simultaneously promoted a policy of transnational friendship with its Eastern Bloc satellites to create a cohesive socialist world. This friendship project resulted in a new type of imperial control based on cross-border contacts between ordinary citizens. In a new and fascinating story of cultural diplomacy, interpersonal relations, and the trade of consumer-goods, Applebaum tracks the rise and fall of the friendship project in Czechoslovakia, as the country evolved after World War II from the Soviet Union's most loyal satellite to its most rebellious.
    Throughout Eastern Europe, the friendship project shaped the most intimate aspects of people's lives, influencing everything from what they wore to where they traveled to whom they married. Applebaum argues that in Czechoslovakia, socialist friendship was surprisingly durable, capable of surviving the ravages of Stalinism and the Soviet invasion that crushed the 1968 Prague Spring. Eventually, the project became so successful that it undermined the very alliance it was designed to support: as Soviets and Czechoslovaks got to know one another, they discovered important cultural and political differences that contradicted propaganda about a cohesive socialist world. Empire of Friends reveals that the sphere of everyday life was central to the construction of the transnational socialist system in Eastern Europe―and, ultimately, its collapse.
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    • 1 hr 19 min
    Roger R. Reese, "The Imperial Russian Army in Peace, War, and Revolution, 1856-1917" (U Kansas Press, 2019)

    Roger R. Reese, "The Imperial Russian Army in Peace, War, and Revolution, 1856-1917" (U Kansas Press, 2019)

    Roger Reese’s recent book, The Imperial Russian Army in Peace, War, and Revolution, 1856-1917 (University of Kansas, 2019), takes a deep dive into the internal workings of the Russian army. Focusing particularly on relations between officers and the rank and file, as well as on divisions within the officer corps itself, Reese notices that conditions for soldiers did gradually improve, over the course of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, these improvements for the rank and file, and the gradual transition to an army based on merit rather than on past traditions of aristocratic honor, proved unable to withstand the pressures of World War One. In this context, breakdown of discipline and loyalty in the army then played an important role in the end of the Russian monarchy.
    Aaron Weinacht is Professor of History at the University of Montana Western in Dillon, MT. He teaches courses on Russian and Soviet History, World History, and Philosophy of History. His research interests include the sociological theorist Philip Rieff and the influence of Russian nihilism on American libertarianism.
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    • 1 hr 2 min
    Naomi Seidman, "Sarah Schenirer and the Bais Yaakov Movement: A Revolution in the Name of Tradition" (Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2019)

    Naomi Seidman, "Sarah Schenirer and the Bais Yaakov Movement: A Revolution in the Name of Tradition" (Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2019)

    Sarah Schenirer is one of the unsung heroes of twentieth-century Orthodox Judaism. In Sarah Schenirer and the Bais Yaakov Movement: A Revolution in the Name of Tradition (Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2019), Naomi Seidman describes how the Bais Yaakov schools Schenirer founded in interwar Poland had an unparalleled impact on a traditional Jewish society threatened by assimilation and modernity, educating a generation of girls to take an active part in their community. The movement grew at an astonishing pace, expanding to include high schools, teacher seminaries, summer programmes, vocational schools, and youth movements, in Poland and beyond; it continues to flourish throughout the Jewish diaspora.
    Seidman explores the movement through the tensions that characterized it, capturing its complexity as a revolution in the name of tradition. She presents the context which led to its founding, examining the impact of socialism, feminism, Zionism, and Polish electoral politics on the process, and recounts its history, from its foundation in interwar Krakow to its near-destruction in the Holocaust, and its role in the reconstruction of Orthodoxy in subsequent decades.
    A vivid portrait of Schenirer shines through. The book includes selections from her writings published in English for the first time. Her pioneering, determined character remains the subject of debate in a culture that still regards innovation, female initiative, and women's Torah study with suspicion.
    Schneur Zalman Newfield is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York, and the author of Degrees of Separation: Identity Formation While Leaving Ultra-Orthodox Judaism (Temple University Press, 2020).
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    • 59 min
    Łukasz Stanek, "Architecture in Global Socialism: Eastern Europe, West Africa, and the Middle East in the Cold War" (Princeton UP, 2020)

    Łukasz Stanek, "Architecture in Global Socialism: Eastern Europe, West Africa, and the Middle East in the Cold War" (Princeton UP, 2020)

    In the course of the Cold War, architects, planners, and construction companies from socialist Eastern Europe engaged in a vibrant collaboration with those in West Africa and the Middle East in order to bring modernization to the developing world. Architecture in Global Socialism: Eastern Europe, West Africa, and the Middle East in the Cold War (Princeton UP, 2020) shows how their collaboration reshaped five cities in the Global South: Accra, Lagos, Baghdad, Abu Dhabi, and Kuwait City.

    Łukasz Stanek describes how local authorities and professionals in these cities drew on Soviet prefabrication systems, Hungarian and Polish planning methods, Yugoslav and Bulgarian construction materials, Romanian and East German standard designs, and manual laborers from across Eastern Europe. He explores how the socialist development path was adapted to tropical conditions in Ghana in the 1960s, and how Eastern European architectural traditions were given new life in 1970s Nigeria. He looks at how the differences between socialist foreign trade and the emerging global construction market were exploited in the Middle East in the closing decades of the Cold War. Stanek demonstrates how these and other practices of global cooperation by socialist countries—what he calls socialist worldmaking—left their enduring mark on urban landscapes in the postcolonial world.

    Featuring an extensive collection of previously unpublished images, Architecture in Global Socialism draws on original archival research on four continents and a wealth of in-depth interviews. This incisive book presents a new understanding of global urbanization and its architecture through the lens of socialist internationalism, challenging long-held notions about modernization and development in the Global South.
    If you are curious to see some of the architectural projects discussed in Stanek's award-winning book, please review some images here. 
    Sharika Crawford is an associate professor of history at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis and the author of The Last Turtlemen of the Caribbean: Waterscapes of Labor, Conservation, and Boundary Making (University of North Carolina Press, 2020).
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    • 44 min

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