Event series "His- and Herstories of Transformation: Negotiating labour, educating sex and constructing gender after 1989"


Too often the accelerated deep-going social transformations in Central and East Europe during the 1980s and 1990s are told as one history. Political actors today build one-sided narratives of the transformation as failure or success in order to justify systemic changes to (or to defend) the political and social order established after 1989. Most social and historical research, for often plausible reasons, takes a "systemic" point of view focussing on the political transition, economic change and normative ideologies behind collectively binding decisions.

Following more "grounded", ethnographically informed approaches "from below", we therefore intend to highlight the multiplicity of STORIES (pl.!) within/behind the hiSTORY of transformations. In this context "His- and Herstories" is meant to serve as a loose "motto" for a series of events which raise such issues as the following:

First and foremost, the topic draws attention to the multiple differences of experiencing, coping and evaluating transformations related to sexuality and gender. These multifaceted perspectives further help to understand transformations as "liminal" periods of shifting and blurred categorial, temporal, spatial, social and material boundaries. Among these problem complexes and experiences of liminality we focus on labour and civic engagement - everyday life, bodies and sexualities - visual constructions and identities.

Our intention is to stimulate thoughts and raise questions about the prevalence, functioning, and consequences of such differentiations, and further, to also give our own projects and discussions on transformation at RECET food for further thought. We are neither proposing a feminist or queer re-reading of established narratives, nor implying a binary distinction between "his" and "her" past experiences. Our aim is to discuss and critically examine the multiplicity of transformation experiences in his-, her- and beyond-stories and to engender critical self-reflections about our own field of transformation studies.

The programme entails a short series of lecture-dialogues and film screenings, followed by a round table discussion and workshop at RECET. The latter is meant to fertilize on the ideas raised throughout the former events and stimulate the RECET members' own research projects. Eventually, the workshop will also serve to discuss the use that can be made of these ideas for future mutual events or grant applications.


1. Webinar Lecture

Thursday, 26.11.2020, 12:15 p.m.

Magda Szcześniak (Warszawa), cultural anthropologist, author of „Normy Widzialności. Tożsamość w czasach transformacji” (Fundacja Bęc Zmiana/Instytut Kultury Polskiej UW, 2016)


2. Workshop: His- and Her-Stories of Transformations

Thursday, 10.12.2020, 12:15 p.m.

Keynote by Libora Oates-Indruchova (Graz): "Mundane Epiphanies: A Herstory of Czech Normalization and Its Uses for the Study of the Transformation from State Socialism"

Friday, 11.12.2020, 9:00-12:00

Impulses by members of RECET

Discussants: Libora Oates-Indruchova, Juraj Buzalka

Stephanie Weismann, stephanie.weismann@univie.ac.at
Lukas Becht, lukas.becht@univie.ac.at


28.-29.11.2019 - RECET Annual Conference "Lost in Expectation. What Happened to the Futures of 1989?"

Public talks 

11.11.2020 - "Mein Körper - meine Entscheidung": RECET im Gespräch über die aktuelle polnische Abtreibungsdebatte

Dr. Magdalena Baran-Szołtys vom Research Center for the History of Transformation (RECET) im Gespräch mit Magdalena Długosz, Aktivistin und Politikerin aus Lublin.


Brown Bag Lunches

04.07.2019 - Conceptualizing the Role of Expectations in Historical Transformations

28.03.2019 - Roundtable on Brexit in historical perspective

28.2.2019 – History of Emotions as an Approach to Transformations

24.01.2019 – Historical Events as Transformations of Social Structures

26.11.2018 – Shifting Narratives: Literary Representations of Inequality in Poland’s Post-Socialist Transformation 

Guest speaker: Magdalena Baran-Szołtys (Vienna University)

15.10.2018 – Transformation and the Concept of Semi-periphery

18.6.2018 – Phantom Borders and Comparative Perspectives: Transformations 1918 and 1989

Guest speakers: Dr. phil. Florian Kührer-Wielach (LMU Munich) / Prof. Dr. Claudia Kraft (Vienna University)



11.10.2019 - Internal Workshop "The Role of Expectations in Historical Transformations"

12.10.2018 - all-day workshop "Intervision"

The purpose of this workshop was to bring together for the first time a group of international scholars who have conducted research on the Intervision Song Contest. Intervision was a project of the International Organisation for Radio and Television - the international broadcasting organisation for Eastern European and other communist-led statesduring the Cold War - and it was created as an alternative to Western Europe's Eurovision Song Contest. Mari Pajala from the University of Turku, Yulia Yurtaeva-Martens from the Film University Babelsberg and Dean Vuletic from the University of Vienna exchanged their experiences in accessing archives, discussed the state of the art on this topic, and considered future directions for research. On 14 October, they also jointly presented examples of their research on Intervision atthe conference Technological Innovation and the Spread of Globalisation in the Cold War, which was held in the Department of East European History at the University of Vienna. The workshop was organised by Dean Vuletic who, as a Lise Meitner Fellow in the Department of East European History and RECET, leads the research project "Intervision: Popular Music and Politics in Eastern Europe" that is funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF)

18.04.2018 - RECET Opening Workshop

Inauguration of the Research Cluster for the Study of East Central Europe and the History of Transformations (RECET)

Workshop Report [pdf]