263 episodes

Interviews with Scholars of Eastern Europe about their New Books

New Books in Eastern European Studies New Books Network

    • Society & Culture
    • 3.9 • 14 Ratings

Interviews with Scholars of Eastern Europe about their New Books

    Carol Rittner and John K. Roth, "Advancing Holocaust Studies" (Routledge, 2020)

    Carol Rittner and John K. Roth, "Advancing Holocaust Studies" (Routledge, 2020)

    I think this is the fifth time I've interviewed John K. Roth for the podcast (and the second for Carol Rittner). He has always been relentlessly realistic about the challenges, intellectual, practical and emotional, that Holocaust Studies poses.  
    Advancing Holocaust Studies (Routledge, 2020), however, reads differently. Published in a world wracked by political and ideological conflict, the essays here struggle to reconcile the time, energy and devotion Holocaust scholars have poured into their subject with the seeming failure to change real world behavior and attitudes. The essays are personal and honest. They ask hard questions about the value of Holocaust Studies about whether or how it needs to change to confront modern challenges.
    Rittner and Roth have done their usual wonderful job in finding and publishing an important group of essays. It says nothing about their work to suggest that the essays provide more questions than answers.  
    Kelly McFall is Professor of History and Director of the Honors Program at Newman University.
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    • 1 hr 11 min
    Gábor Scheiring, "The Retreat of Liberal Democracy: Authoritarian Capitalism and the Accumulative State in Hungary" (Palgrave, 2020)

    Gábor Scheiring, "The Retreat of Liberal Democracy: Authoritarian Capitalism and the Accumulative State in Hungary" (Palgrave, 2020)

    As Donald Trump's presidency draws to a close, his opponents give thanks that he never developed a strategy or learned to use his powers and agencies efficiently. If he had, like Hungary's four-term prime minister Viktor Orbán, Trump could have created an "illiberal democracy" - a country with democratic trappings but with a charismatic, nationalist leader in charge of a hegemonic party, politicised institutions, and facing a divided and hobbled opposition.
    “For two decades after the fall of socialism, Hungary was heralded as a champion of liberal reforms”, says Gábor Scheiring. "The country turned from a laboratory of neoliberalism into a laboratory of illiberalism”.
    Orbán is a skilful politician, he argues, but his success is built on fundamental economic and political mistakes made by governments of the left in the early days of the transition. The prime minister and his party used this environment to launch a "pre-meditated, systematic and aggressive” campaign to court national rather than transnational capital and replace the socialists as the representatives of "left-behind" working class communities. This is a formidable coalition.
    Today I talked to Scheiring about his book The Retreat of Liberal Democracy: Authoritarian Capitalism and the Accumulative State in Hungary (Palgrave, 2020). Scheiring is a sociologist and economist, a former Green member of the Hungarian parliament from 2010-2014, and is currently a Marie Curie Fellow at Bocconi University in Milan. 
    *His own book recommendation is Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism by Anne Case and Angus Deaton (Princeton University Press, 2020)
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    • 54 min
    Serhy Yekelchyk, "Ukraine: What Everyone Needs to Know" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    Serhy Yekelchyk, "Ukraine: What Everyone Needs to Know" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    In 2020, Oxford University Press published a second edition of Serhy Yekelchyk’s Ukraine: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford UP, 2020). This series is based on the reference format that allows to concisely present the most essential information on both generic and most recent acute issues. One will find in this addition answers to the questions pertaining to Kyivan Rus, the Cossacks, as well as the notorious Pereiaslav Treaty of 1654. In addition to this information, the book contains chapters that concisely describe both the Orange Revolution and the Euromaidan. These chapters are followed by inquiries into Russia’s occupation of the Crimea and the Donbas war which is supported by the Kremlin. Yekelchyk emphasizes that the Euromaidan was, on the one hand, the Ukrainians’ response to the corrupt regime which was being normalized by Yanukovych and his supporters; on the other hand, it was also a response to the turn to Russia, which Yanukovych promoted and supported: “Popular dissatisfaction with the corrupt regime had been mounting for years, but the sudden diplomatic turn from Europe to Russia was simply the last straw” (93). For the Ukrainians, “Europe” represented democratic values which were systematically violated by Russia: “‘Europe’ served as a popular shorthand slogan implying democracy, rule of law, and economic opportunity—all the things ordinary citizens found lacking in Yanukovych’s Ukraine” (93).
    Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is viewed by Yekelchyk as part of Putin’s ambitions to restore the mightiness of Russia—in terms of global positioning—within the traditions of both the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union.
    Yekelchyk’s book also contains brief inquiries into the most recent developments around the Russo-Ukrainian conflict on the international level: the evaluation of the presidency of Petro Poroshenko and his decisions during the years of the most active conflict; the investigation of the shooting down of the Malaysia Airlines passenger flight; the international sanctions against Russia; the recent controversy about the Steinmeier Formula. There are sections which address the alleged meddling of the Ukrainian authorities in the 2016 presidential election in the US and the current presidency of Volodymyr Zelensky. With Ukraine: What Everyone Needs to Know, Serhy Yekelchyk shares his outstanding expertise that helps understand the complex overlaps and developments that shape the historical and political environment in contemporary Ukraine.
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    • 1 hr 12 min
    Olena Palko, "Making Ukraine Soviet: Literature and Cultural Politics under Lenin and Stalin" (Bloomsbury, 2020)

    Olena Palko, "Making Ukraine Soviet: Literature and Cultural Politics under Lenin and Stalin" (Bloomsbury, 2020)

    Olena Palko’s Making Ukraine Soviet: Literature and Cultural Politics under Lenin and Stalin (Bloomsbury Academic Press 2020) offers an intriguing investigation that zeroes in on the intersection of history and literature, politics and literature. The main focus of the book is comprised of two iconic figures in the history of Ukrainian literature: Pavlo Tychyna and Mykola Khvyl’ovyi. Through a complex and multilayered investigation of archival materials and historical documents, Olena Palko further advances the understanding of the formative years in the history of Soviet Ukraine. The two protagonists around whom the book seems to revolve offer additional venues for unraveling the highly entangled history not only of Ukraine under the Soviet Union but also of the Soviet Union itself. The theoretical framework of the book allows to consider multiple developments and influences that contributed to the specificity of the Soviet establishment in Ukraine. As the author of the book emphasizes, the conversation about the Soviet years in Ukraine asks not only for scrupulous reading of various documents but also for the acceptance of inherent ambiguities that the Soviet presence brought forth in Ukraine and beyond. Making Ukraine Soviet highlights the entangled and contested political and historical developments that took place in Soviet Ukraine, particularly during the first decade of the USSR; it also invites the readers to look at the writings by Tychyna and Khvyl’ovyi as an additional venue to not only better understand the milieu in which the writers worked but to also see how their writing responded to the environment that within a few years underwent profound and drastic changes.
    Nataliya Shpylova-Saeed is a PhD student in the Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures.
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    • 55 min
    Leslie Waters, "Borders on the Move: Territorial Change and Forced Migration in the Hungarian-Slovak Borderlands, 1938-1948" (U Rochester Press, 2020)

    Leslie Waters, "Borders on the Move: Territorial Change and Forced Migration in the Hungarian-Slovak Borderlands, 1938-1948" (U Rochester Press, 2020)

    The movement of borders and people was a remarkably common experience for mid-twentieth-century Central and Eastern Europeans. Such was the case along the border between Czechoslovakia and Hungary, where territory changed hands in 1938 and again in 1945. During the intervening period and beyond, residents of the borderland were caught in a nearly continuous onslaught of ethnic cleansing - expulsion of Czech and Slovak "colonists," Jewish deportations during the Holocaust, and postwar population exchanges - that was meant to reshape the territory first in the desired image of the Hungarian state and later on in that of Czechoslovakia.
    Leslie Waters's book Borders on the Move: Territorial Change and Forced Migration in the Hungarian-Slovak Borderlands, 1938-1948 (University of Rochester Press, 2020) examines the impact of border changes and migrations on this region between 1938 and 1948. It investigates the everyday consequences of geopolitical events that are well-known from the perspective of international and national histories, but does so explicitly in the context of the borderland. Making skillful use of state and local archival sources in Hungary and Slovakia, author Leslie Waters illuminates the catastrophic effects of state action - including sweeping wealth redistribution and the expulsion of those perceived as enemies of the state - on individuals. This engagingly written and far-reaching work will be invaluable to scholars of the Holocaust and of East Central Europe as well as to those who study forced migration, population exchange, and inter-ethnic relations.
    Leslie Waters is assistant professor of History at the University of Texas at El Paso.
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    • 57 min
    Anna Hájková, "The Last Ghetto: An Everyday History of Theresienstadt" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    Anna Hájková, "The Last Ghetto: An Everyday History of Theresienstadt" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    Anna Hájková's new book The Last Ghetto: An Everyday History of Theresienstadt (Oxford UP, 2020) is the first in-depth analytical history of a prisoner society during the Holocaust. Terezín (Theresienstadt in German) was operated by the Nazis between November 1941 and May 1945 as a transit ghetto for Central and Western European Jews before their deportation for murder in the East. Rather than depict the world of the prisoners as an atomized state of exception, it argues that the prisoner societies in the Holocaust are best understood as existing among the many versions of societies as we know them. This book challenges the claims of Holocaust exceptionalism and insisting that we view it with the same analytical tools as other historical events. The prisoner society Terezín produced its own social hierarchies, but the contents of categories such as class changed radically: seemingly small differences among prisoners could determine whether one ultimately lived or died. During the three and a half year of the ghetto’s existence, prisoners created their own culture and habits, bonded, fell in love, and forged new families. The shared Jewishness of the prisoners was not the basis of their identities, but rather, prisoners embraced their ethnic origin. Based on extensive archival research in nine languages, The Last Ghetto is a transnational, cultural, social, gender, and organizational history of Terezín, revealing how human society works in extremis.
    Dr Anna Hájková is associate professor of modern European continental history at the University of Warwick. Hájková has co-edited the yearbook Theresienstädter Studien und Dokumente between 2006 and 2008. A special issue of German History on “Sexuality, Holocaust, Stigma” appeared online this summer. She has also edited family wartime diaries from the Communist resistance in the Holocaust. She is on Twitter at @ankahajkova.
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    • 56 min

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5
14 Ratings

14 Ratings

Knihovnik527 ,

today’s show

worthwhile content today with john connelly...he is easily understood but the host is barely intelligible...please fix this...hard to spend an hour listening to such poor audio...

Caliwinter ,

Great content, but bad quality

Great, interesting content, excellent books. Just wish that the audio quality would be on the level. A lot odd noise, fade outs, tough to hear parts make it not easy to enjoy.

NemoX1970 ,

5 stars content. 1 start production.

This work is too important to have such poor production values. Echoes, fade out, stuttered audio.

Some fantastic books. Articulate authors who are able to discuss their work so that the educated layman may follow it.

The audio should be the easy part. The guests (and listeners) deserve better.

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