Focus

Apart from documenting and analyzing cultures of history in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe from various angles, the Cultures of History Forum also regularly initiates more collaborative, special features that zoom in on specific events or discussions that concern the entire region (and sometimes beyond). By asking experts from the region to write about one and the same issue and how it is being debated in their respective local or national contexts, we intend to open up additional comparative insights into discourses and developments in this part of Europe.

Even though the represenation and contestation of historical narratives is not necessarily the primary subject of these special features, the past and

 

 

what is made of it still often inform the ways in which current affairs are being understood and attitudes formed; they therefore constitute an important backdrop to understanding local media discourses and political developments. 

The first collection of texts takes a closer look at the 2014 crisis in Ukraine and how it reverberated in the media and public debates in different European countries. The second project provides insights into local reactions to the 'Lex CEU' in the spring of 2017 and discusses illiberal tendencies in the broader region. Other special features will follow soon.

Ukrainian Crisis

Ukrainian Crisis

The current situation in Ukraine is the subject of an intense discussion in the public sphere and the media across Europe. But what do we know about how our neighbouring countries are reflecting on the crisis, its historical background and its meaning for the relationship between our countries, Ukraine, Russia and the European Union? The Cultures of History Forum of the Imre Kertész Kolleg asked historians and sociologists from more than 15 European countries, the US, Israel and Turkey from April to June 2014 for contributions on the media coverage of and public debates on the Ukrainian crisis in their own countries. The authors summarize the main issues raised in reflections on the situation in the Ukraine, the Maidan and Crimea and point to shifts in these reflections over time. In particular, the contributions highlight the frequent recourse to historical issues and narratives in discussions of the Ukrainian crisis, the prevailing images of Ukraine, Russia and the European Union, and the historical concepts and stereotypes on which those images are based.

'Lex CEU'

'Lex CEU'

The recent attempts by the Hungarian government to shut down the Central European University (CEU) in Budapest triggered a wave of protest and of solidarity from academics and politicians worldwide. The law, known as 'LEX CEU', was widely perceived not just as an infringement on academic freedom, but also as yet another move by Viktor Orbán, a self-professed adherent of 'illiberalism', to retreat from the basic principles of liberal democracy and the rule of law. In this special focus of the Cultures of History Forum we seek to place the ‘Lex CEU’ in a broader context, both regionally and historically, and to ask what the state of academic freedom, civil society and liberal values is in the countries that came out of communist dictatorships more than 25 years ago. The contributors to this issue thus not only report on local reactions to the 'Lex CEU'; they critically assess also anti-Soros sentiments, openly illiberal and anti-liberal policies as well as the situation of the media and civil society in their countries. They draw an intriguing and multi-facetted picture of a region that is struggling to make sense of the legacies of 1989.