Authoritarianism and Nationalism in State Socialist Societies

Stephanie Karmann's picture
Call for Papers
June 18, 2020 to June 20, 2020
Subject Fields: 
Contemporary History, Eastern Europe History / Studies, German History / Studies

Call for Papers/Articles

Authoritarianism and Nationalism in State Socialist Societies


In cooperation with the Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung, the Leibniz Center for Contemporary History is hosting the "2nd Hermann Weber Conference on Historical Communism Research" in Berlin in June 2020. The conference will focus on the traditions and mentalities of authoritarianism and nationalism in the societies of the Soviet hegemonic sphere. After selection and peer review, the conference papers will appear in the Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung 2022.


On the Topic


With the rise of right-wing populist, authoritarian movements and the establishment of illiberal regimes (also) in the former Eastern Bloc, historians are increasingly focusing their attention on the origins and traditions of these political currents in the era of state socialism. The interpretation of the collapse of historical communism in 1989/91 as the secular triumph of the liberal "West" and its values of democracy and plurality has come under scrutiny.

Developments in post-communist societies have led to an abundance of mentalities and political-cultural attitudes beyond the ideological spheres of orthodox communism, but also - in the broadest sense - to Western liberal ideas of freedom, such as those claimed in the dissidence. It is characteristic of these phenomena that they often cannot be clearly assigned to the dichotomy of regime versus population, but can be found at the intersection of it.

At the "2nd Hermann Weber Conference on Historical Communism Research", we welcome contributions on the history of mentality, social history and intellectual history, particularly those which pursue the following topics up to the post-communist epoch or - vice versa - ask about the historical roots of phenomena of authoritarianism in the present:


  • Political-social currents and discourses from the pre-socialist period which lived on in state-socialist societies, in public or in private.
  • Forms of authoritarianism, such as nationalist and anti-Semitic elements; informally negotiated images of the enemy and social concepts of order present in societies (ethnic stereotypes, gender relations, authoritarian educational ideals, militarism, imperialism).
  • The role of authoritarianism and conservatism in the resistance and opposition
  • the formation of these political-social milieus in the transition from eroding late communism to post-communism.

We explicitly welcome contributions –comparative studies in particular – which are case studies on Eastern and Central European states, but are additionally seeking perspectives from post-socialist states in Asia and the Global South.


On the Conference and Year Book


The "2nd Hermann Weber Conference on Historical Communism Research" will take place from June 18-20, 2020 in Berlin. To apply, you must submit a first draft of your essay contribution to the conference. Travel and accommodation expenses will be reimbursed by the organizers if the contribution is sent in due time. The aim is to jointly publish the contributions to the conference in a thematic volume of the Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung after selection and review. Further information on the Yearbook for Historical Communism Research can be found at

Please send your contribution offer to Stephanie Karmann ( by 31 October 2019 in the form of a short exposé (2000 characters), in which you outline the contours of your research, describe your sources and methods and provide information on the focus of your previous work.

The JHK publishes articles in German with a volume of 40,000 characters (including footnotes and spaces). Translations from English will be arranged if required. Unfortunately, it is not possible to pay for the contributions. Unless otherwise agreed, any texts to be revised after the conference must be sent to the editors of the Yearbook ( by 30 November 2020. The contributions will be edited there and, if necessary, translated beforehand. 

Travel and accommodation costs will only be covered if the draft text is by the deadline. The organisers recommend booking the trip early and taking out travel cancellation insurance.

The "Hermann Weber Conference on Historical Communism Research" preserves the memory of the Mannheim historian Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Hermann Weber (1928-2014) and is intended to network and initiate projects on the history of communism. The conference contributions appear in the Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung (Yearbook for Historical Communism Research) founded by Hermann Weber, which has been continued by the Bundesstiftung zur Aufarbeitung der SED-Diktatur (Foundation for the Study of Communist Dictatorship in East Germany) since 2004. The conference series is made possible by a donation from the widow to the Gerda and Hermann Weber Foundation.


Dr. Jens Gieseke, Leibniz-Centre for Contemporary History Potsdam (ZZF)

Dr. Ulrich Mählert, Foundation for the Study of Communist Dictatorship in East Germany / JHK

Contact Info: 

Dr. Jens Gieseke

Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History (ZZF), Potsdam

Am Neuen Markt 1

14467 Potsdam


Contact Email: