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Visiting Fellows 2011-2012



Natali Stegmann, University of Regensburg

“Concepts in Transition: Meanings and Spaces of Late Socialism (Poland and Czechoslovakia, 1967-1981)”
Fellowship period: May 1 – June 30, 2012

PD Dr Natali Stegmann studied East European history at the University of Frankfurt/Main and in Poznań. From 2002 to 2008, she was an assistant professor at Tübingen University’s Institut für Osteuropäische Geschichte und Landeskunde. Since 2009, she has been engaged as a coordinator for interdisciplinary research at the University of Regensburg, where she also teaches East Central European history. Stegman’s fields of study include European history, especially Polish and Czech/Czechoslovak history in the 19th and 20th centuries; gender history; citizenship; national institutions; symbols and representations; and speech and public life in late socialism.

Her main publications are: Die Töchter der geschlagenen Helden. “Frauenfrage”, Feminismus und Frauenbewegung in Polen, 1863–1919 (Harrassowitz: Wiesbaden, 2000); Kriegsdeutungen – Staatsgründungen – Sozialpolitik. Der Helden – und Opferdiskurs in der Tschechoslowakei, 1918–1948 (München: Oldenbourg 2010); with Katrin Boeckh (eds): Veterans and War Victims in Eastern Europe during the 20th Century: A Comparison (=Comperativ 20, 2010, 5).

Abstract of current research:
If, like Antonio Gramsci, we assume that all revolutions are rooted in a critical work of intellectual penetration and herewith in the transmission of ideas to specific groups, then this would apply not only to the French and Russian Revolutions, but also to the revolutionary processes of the 1980s in the East European countries. Departing from this premise, this project suggests that the 1970s and 1980s produced specific perceptions of the meaning(s) of crucial terms. It deals with late socialist ideas of a good life and a proper societal order, focusing on Poland and Czechoslovakia from the Prague Spring of 1968 to the temporary end of the solidarity movement after the proclamation of martial law in 1981. An analysis of statements from that period indicates that socialism was still treated as a political fact, as a model and as an everyday reality. Against this backdrop, the project analyses the changing meanings of crucial terms in connection with the shifting conceptions of private and public spaces. There was a palpable link between the definitions of terms, the spaces where they were defined and the places where the protagonists articulated them. Samizdat is a speaking example for this; another example would be the party congresses. Apart from these two opposing realms, the spaces in between are of analytical importance. The project is divided into a two-step analysis. Firstly, I will investigate open letters and other appeals to the wider public, as well as documents that can be read as official answers to these letters, concentrating on the substance and circumstances of communication processes in late socialism. The second part of the analysis will pertain to places of action and of interpretation. It will focus on conceptions of state and society, and also on the ideals of family and workplace. I will work on the first part during my stay in Helsinki.

Email: Natali.Stegmann [at]
Personal website:

Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Katalin Miklóssy and Riikka Nisonen