CFP: Knowledge Personae and Regime Changes: Central and Eastern Europe 1945-1991.

Jan Surman's picture

Call for Papers: Knowledge Personae and Regime Changes: Central and Eastern Europe 1945-1991. Panel at the 26th International Congress of History of Science and Technology, July 25-31 2021, Prague. Deadline May 28, 2020.

As “models of scholarly selfhood” (Algazi 2016) scholarly personae have recently gained momentum in the history of science (Paul 2019; Daston, Sibum 2003; on CEE: Báar 2019). In our section we intend to revisit the concept and direct it at Soviet- and Post-Soviet spaces. It seems that in the second half of the 20th century classical figures of knowledge that are connected to the academic world have been joined by figures that do not rely on academic recognition. In fact, self-taught historians, popular science writers, representatives of non-standard medicine etc. have become socially acknowledged authority figures.

We argue that during the times of regime changes, the norms of scholarship and expertise were fluid, which allowed new knowledge personae to gain acknowledgment more easily. New figures of knowledge could arise through strategic actions of individual authors trying to assert their positions, but also could be demanded by new political elites, as happened with post-1945 experts in Marxism-Leninism. However, as it was the case with dissidents, they could also oppose the episteme of the ruling. Such processes involved renegotiation of vices and virtues, but also new strategies of presentation and justification of expertise, be it scholarly or not.

We are particularly interested in case studies addressing the issues of public and individual renegotiations of expertise in Central and Eastern Europe around 1945/48, 1968, and 1989/91. We especially welcome papers focusing on questions such as:

  • How did “new experts” and “old experts” justify their value for the new societal expectations? Which knowledge/medial/political strategies did they use to claim, regain or keep their expert status?
  • How did this process affect epistemic values and virtues, epistemic tools, and scientific programs?
  • What role might new knowledge personae have played during the build-up of regime changes?
  • To which extent did regime changes result in tensions between new and old knowledge personae? Which social and epistemic strategies can be identified in such conflicts (i.e. change of epistemic virtues vs. the idea of enforcing the virtues vs. the idea of splitting the persona into official and dissident one).
  • How were new and old knowledge personae framed in official and non-official media? Which legitimization and delegitimization strategies were applied?

Proposals (an abstract of max 200 words + a short bio) should be sent to panel organizers ( and by Thursday, 28 May 2020.