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   Course Title    History and Politics in Central and Eastern Europe (1945 to the present)
Lecturer    Vsevolod Bashkuev
Institution    Buryat State University
Country    Russia

Course Description:

This course is an introduction to one of the most exciting areas of study in the last decade: the politics and societies of Central and Eastern Europe. Until the fall of the "Iron Curtain" in 1989, the CEE region was a mystery to most students of comparative politics and international relations. Many social scientists viewed it as a monolith and the politics and societies of Soviet satellites as static. On the contrary, as this course demonstrates, there was a range of political and cultural adaptation to communism in CEE before 1989. Similarly, there have been notable differences among these countries in the strategies and outcomes of democratic transition since 1989.

Course Objectives:

To understand the nature of these differences, we will begin with an examination of inter-war politics followed by the communist takeover of Central and Eastern Europe after 1945.  We will then trace the development of communism in the region, emphasizing important events such as the Hungarian uprising of 1956 and the Prague Spring of 1968 and exploring the rise of opposition movements in the 1980s. Our analysis then turns to the causes, meanings, and effects of one of the most memorable events of the twentieth century – the "velvet revolutions" of 1989 that brought an end to four decades of communism in the CEE region.

The second half of the course investigates a number of important themes relevant to the on-going processes of political, economic, and social change in CEE. In the final weeks of the course, we will consider where these changes may be leading, with special attention to old "ghosts," new forces in politics, and the integration of Central and Eastern Europe into NATO and the European Union.

Course Requirements:

The list of required readings is given below. You can find the books on reserve in the CECI resource room (room 712). It is your responsibility to arrange copying required parts of the books. Note that you cannot copy entire books, only the pages given as an assignment.

1) Vladimir Tismaneanu. Reinventing Politics: Eastern Europe from Stalin to Havel. Free Press, 1994.
2) Czeslaw Milosz. The Captive Mind. New York: Knopf, 1953.
3) Vladimir Tismaneanu, ed. The Revolutions of 1989. London and New York: Routledge, 1999.
4) Timothy Garton Ash. The Magic Lantern. Vintage Books, 1993.
5) Tina Rosenberg. The Haunted Land: Facing Europe’s Ghosts after Communism. New York: Random House, 1995
6) Vaclav Havel. Summer Meditations.

You also have a course reader available in room 712. Articles from the reader are marked with an *.

There will be three writing assignments for this course. Details about the assignments will be provided in class.

1) A short (3-5 pages) position paper about the meaning of the revolutions of 1989. This paper will critically analyze the interpretations found in Part II of The Revolutions of 1989 and discussed in class.
2) A second short position paper about the legacies of 1989. Analysis of Part III, Revolutions
3) A 10-15 page research paper, due at the end of the semester, that investigates an aspect of the transition from communism in one East European (including the Baltics and Balkans) country.

Grading Policy:

Your grade will depend on the following things:

Participation: 35%
Short papers: 15% each
Research Paper: 35%

Regular participation in class is essential. This means coming to class prepared, having read all assignments, and contributing to class discussions.

Topics and Readings:

Week 1: Introduction to the course and to the region

CEE map quiz.

Week 2: The Communization of East Europe

Tismaneanu Preface and Ch. 1; *Milan Kundera, "The Tragedy of Central Europe" in reader.

* Volgyes, "The Legitimating Ideology" (pp. 107-126 & 294-308); start reading Milosz, The Captive Mind.

Week 3: Stalinism and Totalitarian Rule in East Europe.

Tismaneanu Ch. 2, Milosz entire book

Week 4: The Decay of Communism and the Prelude to Revolution

* Bekes, "The 1956 Hungarian Revolution and the Great Powers"

Tismaneanu Ch. 3

Week 5: The Rise of Civil Society in East Europe

Tismaneanu Ch. 3 (Solidarity)

Tismaneanu Ch. 4

Week 6: The Revolutions of 1989

Work on first short paper and read The Magic Lantern

Tismaneanu Ch. 5; Garton Ash, The Magic Lantern entire book

Week 7: The Revolutions of 1989

The Revolutions of 1989, Part I "Causes"

Week 8:

Tismaneanu Ch. 7, Epilogue, and Afterword

Week 9: The Transformation of Political Institutions

* Elster, Offe, and Preuss,  Ch. 3 "Constitutional politics in Eastern Europe," 63-93

* Agh,  Ch.5 "The Role of Political Parties: Political Culture and Electoral Behaviour"; Aleksander Smolar, "Poland’s Emerging Party System," Journal of Democracy, vol.9, no.2 (1998) 122-133, found on-line at

Week 10: The Transformation of Political Elite

* Higley, Kullberg and Pakulski, "The Persistence of Postcommunist Elite"; ** Gallagher, "A Feeble Embrace: Romania’s Engagement with Democracy, 1989-94"

* Havel & Klaus, "Rival Visions"; * Garton Ash, "Prague: Intellectuals and Politicians"; * Wolchik, "The Politics of Ethnicity in Post-Communist Czechoslovakia"

Week 11: Dealing with the Communist Past

Rosenberg, Introduction and Part Three

Rosenberg, Parts One and Two, last section "Haunted Lands"

Week 12: Social and Economic Transformation

* Cox and Mason, "The State-Managed Economy and Social Relations under the Old Regimes"

Week 13: The Integration of East Europe into NATO and the European Union

* Odom, "NATO’s Expansion: Why the Critics are Wrong"; * Herspring, "After NATO Expansion: The East European Militaries"; and * Haerpfer, et al. "Old and New Security Issues in Post-Communist Eastern Europe"

* Mayhew, Ch. 8 "Preparing for accession: problems for the associated countries"

Week 14: Prospects for the Consolidation of Democracy in East Europe

* Rose, et al., Ch.10 "Completing Democracy

Havel, Summer Meditations entire book

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