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Narratives Unbound
Historical studies in post-communist Eastern Europe

Edited by

Sorin Antohi, Orbis Tertius, Institute of Cultural Studies, Bucharest
Balázs Trencsényi, Assistant Professor of History, Central European University, Budapest
Péter Apor, Research Fellow, Pasts, Inc. Center for Historical Studies, Central European University, Budapest

"An excellent addition to the existing literature on postsocialist historiography in eastern and southeastern Europe. A particular strength of the contributions is their coherence.
This well-edited book will appeal not only to specialists of east central and southeastern European history and historiography but would also be an asset in classes dealing with collective memory and historiography in this region." - Slavic Review

The first work that covers the post-Communist development of historical studies in six Eastern European countries: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia. A uniquely critical and qualitative analysis from a comparative and critical perspective, written by scholars from the region itself.

Focusing on the first post-Communist decade, 1989–1999, the book offers a longer-term perspective that includes the immediate ‘prehistory’ of that momentous decade as well as its ‘posthistoire’. The authors capture the spirit of 1989, that heady mix of elation, surprise, determination, and hope: l’ivresse du possible. This was the paradoxical beginning of Eastern European post-Communism: ushered in by ‘anti-Utopian’ revolutions, and slowly finding its course towards a bureaucratic, imitative, challenging, and anachronistic restoration of a capitalism that had changed almost beyond recognition when it had mutated into the negative double of Communism. Each individual chapter has numerous and detailed notes and references.


Sorin Antohi: Narratives Unbound: A Brief Introduction to Post-Communist Historical Studies; Balázs Trencsényi and Péter Apor: Fine-Tuning the Polyphonic Past. Hungarian Historical Writing in the 1990s; Maciej Górny: From the Splendid Past into the Unknown Future. Historical Studies in Poland after 1989; Pavel Kolář and Michal Kopeček: A Difficult Quest for New Paradigms: Czech Historiography After 1989; Zora Hlavičková: Wedged Between National and Trans-National History: Slovak Historiography in the 1990s; Cristina Petrescu and Dragoş Petrescu: Mastering vs. Coming to Terms with the Past. A Critical Analysis of Post-Communist Romanian Historiography; Ivan Elenkov and Daniela Koleva: Historical Studies in Post-Communist Bulgaria. Between Academic Standards and Political Agendas

"The historian’s craft from the annus mirabilis (1989) to the fin-de-siecle is scrutinized by a team of young scholars from Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria. Inspired by and atuned to a truly comparative agenda and methodology, these richly detailed and rigorously analytical surveys of the historical profession in the six post-communist countries provide an indispensable base for transregional and transnational comparisons and syntheses. A valuable and well-crafted volume that brings historiography to the center-stage and that, hopefully, will inspire similar endeavors not only across Europe but also in the newly emerging field of world history."
Maria Todorova, Professor of History, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

"To find itself and its way into the future, Europe needs to look at its past and at its historiography. This book closes a hurting gap in our knowledge of historical studies and of their public resonance in six countries from East Central and Southeastern Europe, usually overlooked by syntheses devoted to European historical studies. The editors and the authors provide abundant information on and thorough critical assessments of the way scholars from these EU newcomers research, understand, and represent their respective national histories after the dramatic turn of 1989. Thus, they significantly contribute to the articulation of a vision of Europe as a living unity of diverse and interactive pasts."
Jörn Rüsen, President, Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut. Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities, Essen

"This collection of studies of Eastern European historiography will be much welcomed by Western European and New World scholars. The coverage of the six countries treated is comprehensive, the issues clearly identified, and the scholarship impressive. Anyone interested in the problem of writing history in the wake of the Second World War in contested areas (and what areas were not?) will want to study this book. Antohi is an authoritative expert on historiography and one of the few theorists of history and history writing with a cosmopolitan perspective."
Hayden White, University Professor Emeritus, University of California, and Professor of Comparative Literature, Stanford University

512 pages
ISBN 978-963-7326-85-1 cloth $60.00 / €48.95/ £45.00