Border communities: microstudies on everyday life, politics and memory in European societies from 1945 to the present

« Border communities: microstudies on everyday life, politics and memory in European societies from 1945 to the present »
Vienna, 14-15 October 2010

The purpose of the workshop is to create a network of researchers working on border studies in Central and Eastern Europe with a view of a common publication project that would go to print by late 2011. The publication(s) will bring together the research findings generated within the project « Border Communities » conducted at LBI EHP since 2006 and other similarly focused projects conducted at other institutions.

The research on « Border Communities » at LBI EHP has produced material covering a broad scope of issues: from memories of WW2 to EU-accession, through perceptions of political events to the minutiae of everyday life at the border, the material and abstract significance of the border, to religious, ethnic, generational and gendered divisions and fusions. This workshop intends to zoom in on some of the issues and develop thematically focused articles/book chapters covering particular aspects of borders and border regimes within local communities. Although an historical perspective is central to the overall direction of the envisioned publication project, approaches from political science, anthropology, sociology, and cultural and gender studies are encouraged.


Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for European History and Public Spheres (LBI EHP)

Nussdorfer Strasse 64, 4th floor.

A-1090 Vienna, Austria



Emilia Robin

Histoire de la guerre froide, humanités numériques, linux, médiation scientifique

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Stimmen der Freiheit – westliche Provokation? 60 Jahre Radio Free Europe in München und Prag

Stimmen der Freiheit — westliche Provokation? 60 Jahre Radio Free Europe in München und Prag

28-30 avril 2011, Munich/Prague

Date limite : 20 octobre 2010

“Volá hlas svobodného Československa, rozhlasová stanice Svobodná Evropa…(Here is the voice of free Czechoslovakia, Radio Free Europe…)“ – with these words, the American radio station, Radio Free Europe (RFE), began regular broadcasting from Munich on 1 May 1951. Its broadcasting services to other Eastern European countries followed in quick succession. Today RFE/RL continues to broadcast from Prague to several Arabic, Asian, and CIS states.

Against the background of discussions between “East” and “West”, between “free democracies” and socialist “people’s republics”, post-war radio broadcasters gained a new significance. In contrast to the traditional media, radio waves could penetrate the “Iron Curtain”. As a relatively new medium, radio assumed a new role as a mediator of information, worldviews, opinions, and rumour across state borders and the Cold War divide in 1950s Europe – similar to the internet today. Radio Free Europe shaped “images” of the “East” and the “West” in both East and West, and can thus be seen as an important and abiding protagonist in the Cold War.

Until 1989, emigrants from East Central, South East and Eastern Europe comprised the majority of Radio Free Europe’s staff. In programming for their native countries and local compatriots, they provided coverage of political and social developments in their respective countries, as well as information on “Western” culture. Although the reception of Radio Free Europe was forbidden in socialist states, for many people in Czechoslovakia, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary, RFE was for decades one of the few alternative sources of information. As such, Radio Free Europe represented an important bearer and mediator of knowledge for almost 40 years in Eastern Europe. Today it is often claimed that, through its activities, Radio Free Europe contributed to the fall of communist regimes and to the (re-)establishment of democracy in Eastern and East Central Europe.

However, the role of RFE – and later, of Radio Liberty (RL) – as an instrument of politics, the station’s significance in the formation of block identities and the crystallisation of alternative public fora and spheres of cultural and social dissent, as well as changes in programming goals and contents have not yet been adequately explored. In this light, the conference focuses on the activities and structures of the radio station, and on its significance and reception in a transnational context.

The central idea of the conference is that in the analysis of the phenomenon of RFE as a whole, we need to put stronger emphasis on the ideological and political categories of the time. While the prevailing view at RFE itself was that their mission was democracy and freedom, in East European countries RFE programs were often perceived as interference in domestic affairs or as Western propaganda. The research of the phenomenon of RFE needs to take into account this wide range of different views.

Given the special position of RFE (long based in Munich and broadcasting predominantly for the audience behind the “Iron Curtain”), the conference focuses both on the role of RFE as broadcasting agent in the target countries and on RFE as a pan-European phenomenon. The station’s significance for Western Europe in general and for West Germany in particular requires closer attention and a re-evaluation.

The conference welcomes papers from various fields of study: history, politics, media and cultural studies, literature, and other disciplines. Contributions should address, but are not limited to, the following topics:

  • Political Dimensions: What political structures were behind RFE? To what extent may we claim that RFE was politically significant? What role did RFE play in German and American foreign and domestic policy as well as for the idea of the Cold War “block thinking”?
  • The day to day operations and work procedures at RFE: The conception of RFE and its objectives. Who worked for RFE? What programming guidelines did program makers have to follow at different stages in the station’s history? What was the relationship between the broadly autonomous national desks and the overall concept of RFE?
  • Program contents: What information was collected and how was this information transmitted? What concepts of democracy, communism, culture and social change were communicated by RFE? How did program formats and contents change over time?
  • Reception: To what extent did RFE contribute to the crystallisation of alternative or oppositional public fora in the countries to which it broadcast? What was the relationship between programming and historical events? What role did RFE play for dissidents? How was RFE viewed in West Germany, in the USA, and by communist regimes?
  • Comparisons with other transnationally operating broadcasting stations during the Cold War era (BBC, Voice of America, Deutsche Welle etc.).

The program of the conference will include both scientific discussion as well as round tables and podium discussions with former RFE journalists and other contemporary witnesses.

The languages of the conference are English, German and Czech.

The academic presentations will be published in conference proceedings.

Please send your proposals in German, Czech or English (max. 2 pages) by 20 October 2010 to

Anna Bischof
Collegium Carolinum
Hochstraße 8
D-81669 München
Tel. +49/89/55 26 06 – 0
FAX +49/89/55 26 06 – 44

Emilia Robin

Histoire de la guerre froide, humanités numériques, linux, médiation scientifique

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The world towards « Solidarity » movement 1980-1989

The world towards « Solidarity » movement 1980-1989

Wroclaw (Pologne), 21-23 octobre 2010

«When in August 1980 strikes broke out in Poland and « Solidarity » movement was created, the world public opinion realized that something important happened. For the first time behind the iron curtain a massive, independent from totalitarian state trade union organization appeared. For almost a year and a half people watched the effects of non-violent struggle of the Polish workers for the right to freedom and dignified life. It appeared possible, even if for some time only, to overcome the barrier which had divided Europe. Governments and parliaments, political, social and labor organizations, church and charity societies wanted to support « Solidarity » by sending financial help, developing contacts, advising in organizational affairs. This, not really formalized and reluctantly welcomed by the communist authorities, co-operation contributed to make « Solidarity » stronger. It proved that the Polish democratic movement is not alone in their struggle, what was even more important after the martial law was introduced in December 1981. In that difficult time « Solidarity » could count on support and help from the whole world. Spontaneous protests and manifestations could be watched in lots of countries, various committees were created, after a few weeks sending equipment and funds was started again, this time illegally. In a smaller way the support for « Solidarity » was visible in the countries of communist bloc.

This phenomenon of a wide range should be described. In the meanwhile it was not researched enough, many archives were destroyed or scattered, only few participants of the events gave their reports. In order to change the situation, even in part, the Institute of National Remembrance in Warsaw and the Institute of History of the University of Wroclaw organize the international scientific conference The World towards « Solidarity » Movement 1980-1989.»

Programme détaillé :

The conference is held under the honourable patronage of President of Wrocław Rafał Dutkiewicz.

Location: Wrocław, Grand Hall of the Old Town Hall (the City Museum of Wrocław, Sukiennice 14/15, 1st floor).

The conference languages are Polish and English with simultaneous interpretation.

The conference will be open to the public. All participants without papers are asked for registration by sending the enclosed form with personal data. The conference is free of charge. The applications should be sent to: Anna Piekarska (

Emilia Robin

Histoire de la guerre froide, humanités numériques, linux, médiation scientifique

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