From the Iron Curtain to the Schengen Area: Bordering Communist and Postcommunist Europe

“From the Iron Curtain to the Schengen Area: Bordering Communist and Postcommunist Europe”
Vienne (Autriche), 29-30 septembre 2011
Date limite de réponse : 15 février 2011

Edit, September 21th, 2011 : the program is available online (conference’s website)

Edit, January 10th, 2012 : conference report online (H-Soz-u-Kult)

Organisation : Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for European History and Public Spheres, Vienna; Institute for Human Sciences (IWM), Vienna; Historical Commission, Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW), Vienna

Almost 50 years ago, on August 13 1961, the Berlin Wall was erected in order to prevent the East German communist dictatorship from collapsing.

It was and still is by far the best-known segment of the long fortified border separating the two opponents of the Cold War era, Soviet communism in the East and liberal democracy in the West. Departing from this symbol of the division of Europe, the conference intends to reflect on the significance of the border regimes for the ideology and practice of post-war communist regimes and their demise in general. The conference will focus on the latter half of the 20th century: from the aftermath of World War II that saw the spread of communist rule westwards, into the Soviet-dominated “people’s republics”, to the aftermath of the dissolution of the Eastern Bloc accompanied by the creation of new borders within its former territory and by its participation in European efforts toward unification. The conference sets out to reflect on the historical relevance and implications of the communist border regimes for societies of the former Eastern Bloc, including the lasting imprints of those regimes in the memories and commemorations of their lived experience.

We encourage contributions employing approaches from history (political, economic, military, social, and everyday life history), sociology, anthropology, political science, legal studies, geography, and cultural and gender studies. Case studies and more general investigations should be based on original archival, empirical or field research. Discussions of comparative and transnational perspectives are particularly welcome.

Keynote addresses will be delivered by Sabine Dullin, Alf Lüdtke, and Alfred Rieber.

We invite conference paper proposals addressing issues, such as, but not limited to:

  • Sovietization of the Eastern Bloc border space, including the ideological and legal basis of border regimes and bordering.
  • The State as the perpetrator of repression and violence at the border: killings, kidnappings, forcible removals, deterrence, technology of fortification.
  • The making of the border populations: purges, resettlements, homogenisation.
  • “Making the borders more permeable in the interest of the people” (Willy Brandt): The détente, Helsinki Accords, and the dissolution of the Bloc.
  • Collective self-surveillance: border residents “assisting” the state border regime practices.
  • National agendas and discourses: nationalisms, intra-Eastern Bloc border issues, emergence of new borders after 1989.
  • Heroes and villains: the border in propaganda and mass media on both sides of the Iron Curtain.
  • Economic and consumerist aspects of borders: trading, smuggling, commuting for work.
  • Borders in creative representations: literature, film, graffiti.
  • Intellectual cross-border cooperation and penetration: technology and cultural transfers across borders, intellectual networks.
  • Borders in memory cultures and everyday life: narratives, memoires, museums.

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words and a short c.v. by 15 February 2011 to: Libora Oates-Indruchová, Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for European History and Public Spheres Vienna, Austria (

The authors of the selected abstracts will be invited to submit their written papers by 15 August 2011.

The full versions of the papers for the edited conference volume will be due by 31 December 2011.

The organisers are currently applying for funding to cover travel and accommodation costs of the participants.

For the extended call for papers see:

Emilia Robin

Chercheuse associée à l'UMR SIRICE. Violons d'Ingres : guerre froide, médiation scientifique, logiciels libres

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