Keynote Speakers


BerendIván Berend
Iván Berend is Distinguished Professor of the University of California, Los Angeles, member of the British Academy, the Academia Europea, and four other European Academies of Sciences. He is author of 29 books on economic history; the most recent ones being "Europe Since 1980" (2010), "Industrialization and Diversity. A Regional Economic History of 19th Century Europe" (forthcoming in 2012) and he is currently working on "Out of the Blue? The 2008-12 European Economic Crisis."

Abstract: Change and Continuity in Central and Eastern Europe
The Eastern peripheries, in spite of major attempts to catch up with the West, remained continuously backward for two centuries. The region’s income level fluctuated around 40 to 50% that of Western Europe. Backwardness is not only lower per capita income, but a complex cultural-economic-political- and social phenomenon. It means the conservation of pre-modern cultural values and behavioral patterns, lower level of education, broader income gap in a more hierarchical society, and more authoritarian, often dictatorial political regimes.  These elements of peripheral backwardness mutually reinforce each other.

The paper presents three separate stories of backwardness. They together illuminate some of the genuine problems of change and continuity in Central and Eastern Europe. The Greek example is providing an angle to economic scenario to catch up with the West from economic backwardness. The Russian case represents the political strategy of dealing with the challenges and pressures of change and continuity regarding the choices of development. The Hungarian story illustrates a scheme of trying to find a solution to come to terms with social backwardness and the revisiting of welfare institutions.

GelmanVladimir Gel'man
Vladimir Gel'man is Professor of Political Science and Sociology at the European University in St. Petersburg, Finland Distinguished Professor at the Center for Modernisation Studies at the Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki, visiting Professor at the Central European University in Budapest and at the University of Texas in Austin. He is member of the editorial board of journals Polis, European Political Science and International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. He has published 17 books and over 120 articles on Russian and Post-Soviet politics and comparative politology.

Abstract: Challenges of Competitive Authoritarianism: Lessons from Russia’s Experience
Why do some authoritarian regimes survive while others do not? Considerable effort has been recently invested into analysis of “competitive”, or “electoral” authoritarianism – the type of authoritarian regime which is based upon meaningful elections (unlike “classical” versions of authoritarianism, which are known due to their “elections without choice”). The essence of these elections is an uneven level playing field, which aimed to maintain incumbents’ electoral victories irrespectively to preferences of voters. The recent proliferation of competitive authoritarian regimes resulted from the very fact that autocrats across the globe sought elections as a mean of both domestic and international legitimization of the status quo. No wonder that post-electoral protests often became challenges, which might be incompatible with regime survival, as the experience of “color revolutions” tells us. Although Russia’s regime in 2011-2012 was able to muddle through these challenges, the cost of its survival was certainly high. But what are the major features of such a regime in case of Russia, what about its institutional foundations and mechanisms of maintenance? How its life cycle – the emergence, development, and further decay – changed over time, which ways it might evolve in the foreseeable future and what are the lessons, which might be learned from Russia’s experience for the study of competitive authoritarianism? The presentation sought answers to these questions.

PetöAndrea Petö
Andrea Petö is Associate Professor at the Department of Gender Studies at the Central European University in Budapest, the President of the gender and women’s history section of the Hungarian Historical Association, the Feminist Section of the Hungarian Sociological Association and co-President of AtGender, The European Association for Gender Research, Education and Documentation. Petö is author of several books and articles on European comparative social and gender history.

Abstract: History as Happiness
On a long weekend in August, 2012 tens of thousands of Hungarians were parading in historical costumes in an open air festival called: “kulurtaj” (meeting of the tribes) celebrating that Hungarians are not of Finno-Ugric origin but have Sumerian and Hunnic roots. Similarly, in the Czech Republic, people dressed as Hussites, fourteenth-century religious reformers in the Czech lands, march on the streets of Prague to protest against the European Union. Extreme nationalism and populism are on the rise all over Europe. The talk seeks to contribute to a new field of analysis, exploring the possible ways in which the popularity of the far right is constructed in relationship to the past and the narratives of the past, how history becomes an indispensable tool for constructing happiness.

SparksColin Sparks
Colin Sparks is Professor of Media Studies at the University of Westminster (UK) and Director of Communication and Media Research Institute (CAMRI). He  was one of the founders of Media, Culture and Society, and was a founder of the European Institute for Communication and Culture. His current research interests include the comparative study of media systems undergoing rapid change. He is particularly interested in comparing the media systems of post-communist countries with those of other societies that have moved away from different forms of dictatorship towards more democratic forms of political rule.

Abstract: Censors, Markets and Journalism
The general shift from a command to a market economy in China has affected the mass media as much as, if not more than, other areas of society. Starting in 1978, the whole of the media have moved away from the subsidised model towards a dependence upon advertising and subscription. Today, most of the media is dependent upon market forces for its economic survival and consequently is under pressure to adapt its content to the needs of those markets. There remain some heavily subsidised areas, for example international broadcasting, but the main media like CCTV and the large circulation newspapers are almost completely dependent upon their ability to attract readers, viewers and advertisers. Alongside the existing media that have made an adaptation, there have been numerous new outlets, notably newspapers and magazines, that originated with a market orientation. At the same time, party control of the media remains a central reality for the activities of journalists and other media producers, particularly in the field of news production. For some years, critical Chinese and western commentators argued that the development of the market would inevitably bring the media into conflict with the party and lead to a pressure towards democratization. This hope has turned out, so far at least, to be illusory: Chinese media organizations and Chinese journalists have found ways of adapting to the new situation, with a greater or lesser degree of comfort. More recently, observers have expressed the same enthusiasm for the democratic potential of the internet, and in particular instant messaging services, and this situation is indeed much more hopeful. This presentation reviews the changes to Chinese media organisations, to the practices and self-conceptions of Chinese journalists, and to the relations between the media, political power and popular interests. It is demonstrated that there is no simple and uniform progression from a controlled state media to a free market media, and that there are a range of different practices to be detected in the current situation.

SzelenyiIván Szelényi
Iván Szelényi is William Garam Sumner Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Political Science, Yale University, Max Weber Professor of Social Science and Foundation Dean of Social Sciences at NYUAD. He is a Fellow of American Academy of Arts and Sciences as well as member of the Hungarian National Academy of Sciences. Szelenyi has published several books and articles on social inequalities from a comparative and historical perspective in Communist and Post-Communist countries.

Abstract: Pathways from and Crises after Communism
The transition from socialist redistributive economy to capitalist markets proved to be a rockier road that anticipated.  The degree and character of difficulties countries faced during the transition depended on the nature of the pathways taken. In this paper I distinguish three major trajectories various countries followed: Central European neo-liberalism; post USSR neo-patrimonial regime and the East Asian (Chinese and Vietnamese) transformation from below. Rather than distinguishing the “right way” from the “wrong way” I explore what the different costs and benefits were of the various pathways at various stages of the transformation.