“Peripheral Observations” and Their Observers
Introduction to Social Sciences in the ”Other” Europe since 1945, coord. Adela Hîncu, Victor Karady, Budapesta, 2018
Judging by the extent to which it has been debated, there is, by now, a robust field of research devoted to the history of the social sciences and humanities in the postwar period. The analytical usefulness of “Cold War social science” as an overarching description of the field has been productively contested almost as soon as it emerged as shorthand for a remarkable flourishing of works on the history of social science and humanities disciplines, comparable with the expansion of these disciplines themselves between 1945 and the 1970s. The deliberately broad features used to describe “Cold War social science”—the (often covert) patronage by military and by government agencies; the postwar quantitative turn; the self-fashioned “scientific objectivity”; and the penchant for grand theory—have, in effect, opened up the field to multiple accounts of disciplines, intellectual pursuits, and research projects not quite approximating the ideal type. Faithful to the reflective ethos encouraged by the growing interest in the history of the social sciences, a diverse group of historians, social scientists, and science and technology scholars have constructed a field of research in the process of challenging its very object of study. Its fragmentation is the fragmentation of this object itself, spanning disciplines, methods, instruments, and scientific practices.
Acknowledgement: The editors thank Balazs Trencsenyi for generously hosting the project and offering guidance throughout the process, Emily Gioielli for her dedicated editorial assistance, and Monika Nagy for her patience and support with the publication of the volume. Ioana Macrea-Toma thoughtfully commented on an earlier draft of the introduction, which owes its final form to Victor Karady’s keen reading.
In spite of this diversity, the geography of the field has remained overwhelmingly North American and Western European. This has often meant that authors resorted to East Central European references either for the contrastive illustration of Western specificities, or the presentation of how paradigms emerging in the West have impacted scholarly options in the “other Europe,” or else how the latter succeeded or failed to accomplish achievements in the process of “catching up.” It rarely happened that social science disciplines east of Vienna received attention per se. One can cite here the recent example of INTERCO SSH, an international project funded by the European Commission on the post–Second World War history of seven disciplines (economics, ethnology, literary studies, philosophy, political science, psychology, and sociology) in seven countries. Piloted from the Parisian Centre national de la recherche scientifique, the project pursued three objectives: mapping the institutionalization of the disciplines concerned (and, occasionally, their de-institutionalization, as in Sovietized Eastern Europe during the 1950s); investigating the worldwide diffusion and reception of major scholarly paradigms; and analyzing the processes of internationalization, notably the emergence of the European scientific space, as expected, planned, and promoted by European public authorities. Only Hungary was involved in this project, without any reference to developments in other formerly socialist countries.
This volume brings in the perspective of the “other Europe.” It contributes a series of “peripheral observations,” on and from the margins of the field, which reflect on the condition of knowledge and research on what is perceived as the (semi-)periphery by the observers themselves. Rather than attempt to shift focus, these explore scientific visions of the social off-center. Chapters span the years from the immediate postwar period to the present, and the European semi-peripheries from Tartu to Portugal, with the majority of studies covering East Central Europe. In its chronology, the volume follows, but often challenges, existing accounts of postwar social science: part one engages with the profound transformation of most disciplines in the postwar period up to the 1950s; the second part covers the spectacular rise and domination of sociology in the 1960s, along with the discipline’s ups and downs culminating in the fading away of official “scientific socialism” as the mandatory reference to the Marxist doctrine; the intensification of transnational exchanges up to the 1980s is the topic of the third part; and the crisis and reorganization of the social sciences in the late-socialist period and the post-socialist years of transition are dealt with in the fourth and final section.
The first and last parts, in particular, echo similar findings in the history of “Cold War social science,” showing that epistemological continuities and ruptures neither immediately nor perfectly map onto sociopolitical changes. The establishment and downfall of state socialism have been momentous for the history of the social sciences and humanities. Yet these do not stand in isolation from broader transnational and global processes such as postwar reconstruction, accelerated urbanization and industrial growth, “spontaneous” or enforced secularization, the upsurge of mass higher education generating the birth of professional intellectual strata (“researchers” as a new social category), or the consolidation of state policies of science inspired by neoliberalism, including schemes of project-based public funding.
This volume asks how political, economic, social, and epistemological change is intertwined at the local and national levels, in transnational interactions, and within broader, global processes. As such, it complicates our understanding of postwar epistemological change in the social sciences and humanities not by simply reminding us that there was a parallel story unfolding in the other Europe, but by reflecting on how this story was integrated, or why it was not, into a broader narrative of global transformation. Where Cold War social science is contested, the endlessly recurring debates over the existence of socialist social sciences during the Cold War should be recovered because of their cultivated sensitivity to epistemological difference. Grand theory was an ambition shared, failed, and redeemed on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Placed in their proper context, the accounts of resistance, resilience, compromise, and the efforts at scholarly selflegitimation in social scientists’ engagement with both the state and the given political establishment might become less central and also less overpowering in the scholarship on knowledge production in non-democratic regimes. Instead, the issue of hierarchies of epistemic power and how they are internalized, reproduced, and subverted outside of the core would complement debates on the relationship between social scientists and power. Finally, both the public role of the social scientists and the interpretation of their ideological functions stand to benefit from a history of objectivity and “depoliticized” knowledge that accounts for how the identity of the social scientist as “activist” was marginalized, in fits and starts, in the postwar period.
Most of the papers collected in this volume were presented at Central European University during two events held under the aegis of Past, Inc. Centre for Historical Studies and the Department of History. The conference “Social Sciences since 1945 in East and West: Continuities, Discontinuities, Institutionalization, and Internationalization” was organized by Victor Karady, Peter Tibor Nagy, and Balazs Trencsenyi in 2015. In 2016, I convened a smaller workshop on “Cold War Epistemics Revisited: Resistance and Legitimation in the Social Sciences.”
Since these events, Central European University has itself become the object of reflection with regard to the relationship between knowledge production, state ideology, and arbitrary political power, mobilizing old and new arguments on the social role of public intellectuals and the value of academic freedom. This introduction offers an overview of the themes and historiographical interventions of the collected chapters in what emerges as a fragmented, yet interconnected account of the social sciences on the semi-peripheries of postwar Europe. Rather than a comprehensive picture, it is an image of its times—reflecting the interests of scholars embedded in different but equally complex institutional, disciplinary, and intellectual traditions. By placing them in dialogue with each other, the editors of this volume hope to inspire comparative and collaborative research, and to open up the field to the variety of geographies, temporalities, and linkages of knowledge showcased by the social sciences in the other Europe.
Misalignments: Modernization, Sovietization, and De-Stalinization
Not all postwar histories of the social sciences and humanities align well with political accounts of Sovietization and de-Stalinization in East Central Europe. The four chapters on sociology, human geography, and historiography that open the volume suggest that there are historiographical opportunities in such misalignments, and raise questions about the role of continuities and ruptures as central themes in the history of social sciences in the other Europe. In their contributions, Agata Zysiak and Zoltan Ginelli engage with the concept of Sovietization in the history of Polish sociology and Hungarian geography, respectively. The case has long been made for abandoning a simplified vision of a homogenous Eastern bloc under direct Soviet control, as implied by the concept of Sovietization in its Cold War iteration. New perspectives on the postwar period further destabilized the monolithic view of an all-encompassing transformation imposed on passive actors from the outside, to emphasize processes of negotiation, transfer, compromise, and adaptation in political, economic, social, and cultural areas.
Furthermore, alternative conceptualizations of the process of Sovietization have been proposed, which go beyond the vision of unilateral transfer, impermeable boundaries, and colonial subjugation. One may ask then, what remains to be debated by Zysiak and Ginelli? They remind us that the concept of Sovietization, especially its primary underlying assumption—radical historical rupture, enjoys an afterlife of its own in East Central Europe that has been largely undisturbed by post-revisionist historiographical debates. Unless one is ready to concede a simplified vision of “backwardness” and “lagging behind,” reminiscent of the classical debates on modernization in the European periphery, the reasons behind this should be sought at the confluence of institutional arrangements, the structure of local academic and intellectual elite networks, and national epistemic traditions. Both Zysiak and Ginelli perform the double work of arguing against the pitfalls of existing accounts of Sovietization and modeling, in the case of postwar knowledge production in sociology and geography, the kind of analysis that, if applied to the post-socialist period, might eventually illuminate the reasons behind the resilience and continued appeal of what Zysiak calls the “totalitarian paradigm” and Ginelli, more bluntly, “political revisionism.” The key elements in both accounts are unacknowledged continuities between the interwar and the postwar periods; the embeddedness of local epistemic changes in broader, transnational histories of knowledge production; and the unpredictable consequences of epistemic claims under shifting ideological and institutional conditions. Zysiak studies the working-class University of Łodź in the immediate postwar years and the innovative activism of its rector, the Polish agrarian, sociologist, and left-radical thinker Jozef Chałasiński, to illuminate how quasi-utopian visions of educational reform were ultimately conducive to the de-legitimization and dissolution of sociology, the very academic discipline seeking to ground them. She shows how the account familiar to historians of sociology throughout East Central Europe—that of the discipline’s destruction, as Zoltan Rostas puts it in his own chapter in the volume—obscures and disregards both epistemic continuities and the different life strategies of the actors involved. Sociology in fact continued to be practiced in other guises, its ethos was invested in various projects such as the socialist university, and sociologists’ positions were made possible by the institutional arrangements they helped establish.
Focusing on the case of geography and spatial planning, Ginelli’s premise is complementary: political, institutional, and biographical ruptures do not necessarily imply epistemic changes of similar dimension as well. On the one hand, he tracks conceptual and methodological continuities, arguing how, as compared to other social sciences, geography “failed” to Sovietize, that is, to develop into a genuinely “socialist science.” On the other hand, he maintains that, taking Hungary’s semi-peripheral position into consideration, the Marxist-Leninist discourse should be understood as part of a broader shift towards modernism, developmentalism, and rational planning that originated well in the interwar period and spread globally in the decades following the Second World War. On the first point, his analysis should be read alongside Jozsef Litkei’s recent account of the early Sovietization of history writing in Hungary. Rather than contesting the applicability of Sovietization as an analytical concept, Litkei shows that it was a process fraught with tensions—not beneath an inflexible “ideological facade,” but exactly because of the absence of an ideological master narrative. Various actors were left to continuously reinterpret and approximate its alleged doctrinal core, not independently of their power position in the nomenklatura and their abilities to both decode and intervene in politically authoritative discourses and institutional arrangements (or to know when not to). Another interesting parallel is the continuity of expert knowledge in Romanian urban sociology, as illustrated by the mobilization of the interwar concept of “urban area” for centralized planning and policy-making in the drive for socialist industrialization and urbanization. Despite the brutality of the Romanian “postwar,” the translation was made possible by the survival and adaptation of what Norbert Petrovici identifies as a developmentalist logic not unlike the one claimed by Ginelli for Hungarian geography.
Besides the issues of continuity and rupture, cycles of reform, liberalization, and normalization in postwar East Central Europe have also served as central topical areas in historical accounts of the social sciences. Eva Laiferova’s survey of Slovak sociology in this volume comes closest to this approach to mapping long-term change. Increasingly, however, both microhistories of momentous events (debates, “affairs,” institutional changes, etc.) and understanding the temporalities of knowledge production under state socialism (especially the system of planned sciences) on their own terms, have complicated the account of how political, institutional, and epistemological transformations intertwined. The impact of de-Stalinization in the Soviet Union is credited as the source of the first wave of liberalization in the social sciences in East Central Europe. Yet much as “the dilemmas of de-Stalinization” in the Soviet Union led to a very fragmented, indeed fragile liberalization in the field of culture, one can observe “a growing diversity of forms of de-Stalinization” in the socialist bloc. The social sciences and humanities, here historiography and sociology, illustrate that well. “Riding the wave of de-Stalinization” was an unpredictable, though not entirely hopeless undertaking. As detailed by Anna Birkas, the story of the tortuous attempts to formulate a “science of party history” in Hungary after 1953, which would both earn the discipline a measure of academic respectability and allow it to fulfill its critical function as a check on the party’s self-image, is that of many social sciences negotiating their relationship to dogmatic Marxism-Leninism during de-Stalinization. This should not be understood as a clash between “science” and “politics,” which were thoroughly intertwined in any case. Rather it was a measure of the inability of communist parties in power to reconcile their interest in maintaining that power with an ethos of critical self-reflection. That the tension between de-Stalinization, professionalization, and memory might define knowledge production in the 1950s more broadly is suggested by similar analyses of the re-writing of party history in Romania. The professionalization that gained momentum in the mid-1950s produced its own “unintended consequences” at the Institute for Party History. When a voice was restored to interwar party veterans dissatisfied with the existing power structures, Mihail Roller, the already marginalized main promoter of Stalinist historiography in Romania, was forced to retire as head of the institute. At the same time, de-Stalinization was not gender blind. The post-Stalinist rearrangements which were to consolidate, infamously, a nationalist historiography in Romania, also edged out women’s history after 1958, as women were themselves the easier targets in the “professionalization” drive against Stalinist historians lacking qualifications. These cases show that the reform of various disciplines is not easily disentangled from the internal party struggles occasioned by de-Stalinization, from official memory politics, especially the cultural and political legacies of the interwar period, and from Marxist-Leninist epistemology proper. In fact, it was entirely possible to observe a constellation in which the most extensive interwar social science was discontinued at the end of the 1940s and re-institutionalized in the mid- 1960s by a high-ranking party member who was sidelined almost a decade earlier for taking de-Stalinization seriously, but now had been brought back as part of a seemingly reformist drive. As reconstructed by Zoltan Rostas, this was the case of Romanian sociology, which saw interwar experts selectively re-integrated but which ultimately had very little intellectual continuity or continuity of expertise, despite there having been several alternative projects of re-institutionalization.
Much like the case of Andras Hegedus in Hungary, patronage is thought to have ensured relative autonomy for the discipline, which in practice could mean that sociology was reimagined “as a purely scientific, even technical, discourse,” with little to no interest in Marxist social theory. Sociology is interesting exactly for having mobilized, in different contexts in the late 1950s, reformist intellectual clusters across the (then possible) political spectrum, from factions of disenfranchised Stalinists, to marginalized interwar specialists previously involved in different “sciences of the nation,” to aspiring new technocrats. More generally, the patterns of sociology’s institutionalization throughout Europe do not neatly follow political fault lines. Yet a standard periodization of the discipline, such as that proposed by Laiferova, which alternates periods of liberalization and repression, is recognizable within different temporalities across East Central Europe and the Soviet Union, with the latter generally treated as the primary mover for wide-ranging political change. In spite of its analytical shortcomings, this periodization has allowed for numerous cross-national comparisons and the subsequent mapping of East Central Europe in terms of temporalities of crisis and reform—with 1956, 1968, and 1980–81 taking center stage. This pattern of change, based on the shifting dynamics between political, economic, and epistemological interests, was observed more broadly in the management of over-bureaucratization under state socialism. Moreover, for the Czechoslovak case, Vitězslav Sommer has shown that while the importance of social scientific expertise for governance has been increasingly emphasized beginning in the second half of the 1950s, the importance of different domains of expertise shifted over time: from law and political science at the end of the 1950s; to sociology, scientific management, and cybernetics during reform communism; to the sciences of forecasting, planning, and management after 1968, with economics especially dominating the 1980s. If sociology is ultimately remembered as the quintessential product of de-Stalinization in the social sciences, the first part of this volume suggests that this might have less to do with de-Stalinization, a process similarly fraught with tensions across disciplines, and more with the ability of sociologists themselves, especially after what Laiferova calls “the second discontinuity”—i.e., post-socialist transition—to successfully disentangle the discipline from the web of party, ideological, and memory struggles surrounding de-Stalinization.
Sociology in the Long 1960s and the 1970s
If the first postwar decade was one of rearrangements meant to establish Marxism- Leninism as the official core epistemology in the social sciences and humanities, regardless of the extent to which this was achieved, the long 1960s were the high point for sociology throughout East Central Europe. The spectacular development of the discipline after what became known as the “banning of sociology as a bourgeois pseudo-science” was followed by growing interest in sociology both at the time and in the post-socialist period. Surveys of the sociological work conducted in the region were published across the East-West “divide,” a divide much elaborated upon in the self-reflective sociological literature and mediated through various collaborative projects.
Sociology’s complex identity also appealed to historians of state socialism more broadly. Together with ethnography, it was argued that sociology “produced notions, metaphors, and views that offered not only society with tools for self-description, but also provided the party with plans for policy making.” Moreover, it served in various fine-tuned ways for the self-legitimization of communism as a support for intellectual modernity and even an objectification of the rapprochement to the West (a strategic political claim after the Helsinki agreement in 1975). The multifunctional position of sociology in service of the (party-)state is addressed, to different extents, by all the chapters of this volume dedicated to sociology in the long 1960s.
As argued by Matthias Duller, however, and later on illustrated by Bruno Monteiro, the issue of sociology’s autonomy from politics is not confined to state socialism. Rather than mechanically oppose “Western” and “Eastern” sociologies, in effect reproducing a simplified vision of the Cold War scientific fault lines, the implicit correlation between liberal democracy and scientific autonomy on the one hand, authoritarian regimes and suppression of scholarly agency on the other, should be called into question. If, with Duller, and following Pierre Bourdieu, autonomy is reformulated as social scientists’ ability to pursue their self-defined roles within structural conditions which promote the field’s proximity to power regardless of the political regime, then agency is recovered as an important factor of scholarly professionalization and intellectual legitimization. From this it follows that the alliances forged by social scientists with other social actors were instrumental in establishing different configurations of dependence and autonomy. In both Romania and Hungary, it was politically able patronage which partly guaranteed sociology’s autonomy, as well as an alliance with managerial elites—the assumed beneficiaries of much sociological research—which rendered sociology vulnerable to switches from managerial to ideological/normative modes of administration.
In Yugoslavia, where sociology flourished relatively undisturbed because of the initial alignment of its goals with the party’s anti-Stalinist ideology, institutionalization and ideological renewal combined to establish a discipline that remained critical of the failures of state socialism and invested in the further elaboration of Marxist humanism throughout the 1960s. In this sense, the infamous dissolution of the Praxis group in 1974 was an attack directed at the most radical faction of the sociological field and not so much at the autonomy of the field as a whole. Around the same time, sociology was effectively de-institutionalized in Romania not on account of its radicalism but because of its inability to participate at the production of ideology—i.e., national communism.
Accounts focusing on the agency of social scientists are further complicated by the long-term dynamics of tactical and intellectual allegiances. The two main strands of sociological research that emerged throughout East Central Europe, humanist Marxist and structural-functionalist, reached notably different conclusions about the reformability of real-existing socialism. In terms of research, while post-Stalinist Marxist sociologists everywhere were preoccupied with issues of social structure research, work and industrial relations, and the scientific-technological revolution, sensitive research topics such as social stratification, social conflict, and self-management were prioritized differently from one national context to another, and by humanist Marxist rather than structural-functionalist sociologists. Finally, and most strikingly, they had different responses to the challenges of the 1980s, notably in Yugoslavia by taking opposing stands on the issues of war and nationalist mobilization.
There is, then, also a need to reconstruct the cross-national circulation of intellectual sources beyond the inner workings of sociologies in various national contexts. Polish sociology, in particular, was an early mediator between Western, especially American, sociology and post-Stalinist Marxist sociology in the making. This is true not just for Czechoslovakia, the case detailed by Jarosław Kilias, but for the Eastern bloc more generally. The Polish sociologists’ version of “open Marxism” was appealing because it simultaneously enjoyed ideological legitimacy and integrated up-to-date sociological theory and research techniques, which were otherwise inaccessible. Though essential in the 1960s, exchanges with Polish sociology were mostly asymmetrical, and by the 1970s they were replaced by contacts forged through the general internationalization of the social sciences, and East-West academic exchanges in particular. Within this broader trend, the case of Czechoslovak sociology and its self-perceived inferiority vis-avis Polish sociology is noteworthy in that it shows that knowledge production in postwar East Central Europe was structured by multiple asymmetrical relations beyond those between Western and Eastern social science. Intra-regional dynamics, a topic also addressed by Bogdan Iacob in this volume, could capitalize on, mediate, and but also replicate these supposed unbridgeable differences. Sociologists in East Central Europe were skilled at positioning themselves within a field which they recognized as buttressed by the distribution of epistemic power and resources along a capitalist-socialist divide; by increased opportunities and obligations for cooperation in the Eastern bloc around the project of a “socialist sociology”; and by the changing weight of sociology within the field of social sciences at the national level. For the most part, these different layers of professional and intellectual embeddedness were neither unacknowledged nor passively accepted. As the case of social structure research in 1970s Romania shows, they were instrumentalized, depending on the context, to support research agendas aimed at more than one audience. At least until the end of the 1970s, the tensions between national, transnational, and international structural constraints to knowledge production were successfully mitigated, producing empirical research which could then be mobilized to subvert the very strand of ideological legitimation—“ every-day Marxism-Leninism”—that sociologists’ work was meant to support.
The overrepresentation of sociology among histories of the social sciences in this volume and recent historiography is not accidental. Sociology thrived during the reformist periods of the long 1960s, and was one of the main sources of progressive social critique in the region. Furthermore, the pushback that regularly mired the discipline rendered it ever more visible. It mobilized various strands of interwar expertise, new postwar visions of science, shifting ideological commitments, and party and state interests in unpredictable configurations. In the existing landscape of the humanities and social sciences, sociology seemed not only excitingly new, but also fashionable and uniquely attuned to the spirit of the age. But was there a sociology specific to state socialism? The question has been asked for “communist psychiatry” by Sarah Marks and Mat Savelli, who concluded that “there were multiple psychiatries practiced across the period and the region,” entangled through the complex circulation of knowledge and practices on both sides of the Iron Curtain. The same could easily be said of “socialist sociologies.” Moreover, the institutionalization of Portuguese sociology in the long 1960s, as analyzed by Bruno Monteiro, followed a very similar course to that of sociologies in East Central Europe, which invites reflection on the relationship between sociology and the modernizing aspirations of semi-peripheral authoritarian regimes more broadly. Both the epistemological rearrangements required from the social sciences by a colonial power on the margins of Western Europe seeking to modernize its core, and the contemporary debates on Portuguese sociology’s long-standing ties to the modernizing factions of the state bureaucracy and the Church, resonate with “peripheral observations” elsewhere in the other Europe. Yet at the same time the chapters in this section suggest that there is value in taking seriously the project of a “socialist sociology” as imagined, practiced, and subverted in the long 1960s, out of an awareness of the synchronous, though asymmetrical, development of the discipline at the peak of its popularity in Europe and North America. Ideas about the East-West divide, transnational collaboration, and reflections on their own semi-peripheral condition were constitutive parts of this project—and of the resulting knowledge and practices—in ways that are yet to be fully appraised. These issues are at the core of the third part of this volume.
Transnational Encounters and Collaboration into the 1980s
The growing interest in the transnational aspects of state socialism in East Central Europe is well documented. How knowledge was transnationally coproduced during the Cold War, however, has been much less researched thus far. This is especially the case for the social sciences, which have paid little attention to the all but completely discredited Marxist-Leninist epistemology in their drive for postsocialist reconstruction. Moreover, the retrospective articulation of social scientists’ engagement with Marxism-Leninism in terms of resistance and legitimation has largely levelled the contradictions of knowledge production in the postwar period. As Jenny Andersson and Eglė Rindzevičiūtė have argued for the case of prediction, forecasting, and future studies in one of the few attempts to reconstruct the transnational configuration of a field of social scientific research, such knowledge played an ambiguous role “both for consolidating postwar regimes of power and control and for mobilizing crucial forms of dissent and visions of change.” As intellectual, professional, and existential strategies developed in the unstable context of the postwar expansion and reshuffling of the social sciences, resistance and legitimation were mutually enabling, rather than mutually exclusive responses to the challenges of postwar reconstruction. The supposed dichotomy between the two was widely adopted, adapted, and internalized as one of the major symbolic tropes of the transition from socialism, which has structured the modes of engagement with the knowledge produced during the period of state socialism to this day.
Another exception to the underrepresentation of the social sciences in transnational histories of the Eastern bloc is Johanna Bockman’s account of the coproduction of economic thought across the East-West divide in the postwar period.
Notably, she recovered the historical dimension as a much-needed corrective to transitology literature, which often lacks self-reflectivity, and as part of the ongoing debates on the global hegemony of neoliberalism. More recently, Egle Rindzevičiūtė has argued that transnational collaboration in the field of policy sciences, including the strategies of de-politicization which made investment in system-cybernetic governmentality possible across the East-West divide, had a more ambiguous relationship with neoliberal reforms compared to economics.
Advocating a contextual, nuanced approach, Rindzevičiūtė points to the dual potential— critical and instrumental—of policy sciences developed transnationally, a lesson perhaps more broadly applicable to social sciences in the 1960s–1980s. The chapters collected in this part showcase a range of transnational exchange from critical reception to coproduction, and a range of analytical approaches from quantitative analysis to institutional and intellectual history.
The “openness” to Western literature in the social sciences, which started in the second half of the 1950s but became most apparent throughout the Eastern bloc in the 1960s, has rarely been assessed systematically. This is probably a consequence of the critique of quantitative analysis in the history of transfers and studies of reception, specifically some of the pitfalls of reifying categories of analysis and the supposed relationship between them. Yet quantitative approaches to the circulation of theory and methodology in the social sciences, combined with qualitative analyses of how they were received, represented, and employed—at times in contradictory ways—give insights into how social scientists mapped out their field of research. While it would not be surprising to see a decline in the number of references to Soviet literature and a marked preference for sources from the United States and other capitalist countries in a sociological journal in the 1960s and 1970s, the 1980s drop in international references everywhere in the Eastern bloc suggests that much of the circulation of knowledge relied on international contacts forged and maintained through institutions which generally stopped investing in transnational cooperation and exchange by the beginning of the 1980s. Moreover, as Eszter Berenyi’s analysis of the Hungarian journal Szociológia shows, a “Western orientation” often came at the price of a divisive discourse that reinforced the supposed essential differences between the Eastern and Western blocs, as much of the literature published required a Marxist evaluation or at the very least the appearance of one.
Major shifts in the party’s ideological line, though not always in a straightforward or immediate manner, could nevertheless alter both the intellectual mapping of research fields and the tone of debate. Such was the case of Hungarian philosophy, as Laszlo Gergely Szucs shows. The Hungarian revisionist Marxism of the 1960s, based in large part on the critical reception of Western Marxist philosophy from the 1920s and 1930s, was severely curbed in the aftermath of the so-called “philosophers’ trial” of 1973. Consequently, reviews of Western philosophical literature published in the main journal of philosophy, Magyar Filozófiai Szemle, lost the sociopolitical edge associated with Gyorgy Lukacs and his circle since the 1950s. The decline of revisionist Marxism in the 1970s is not specific to Hungary, and it would be worth inquiring to what extent the growing interest in Western philosophical literature emerged out of an attempt to reform, not simply overcome, Marxism in other contexts as well. Similarly, quantitative and content analyses could reconstruct patterns of reception for other social sciences, with an understanding that these are telling not just for a history of cultural repression and liberalization, but for any study of the changing epistemological assumptions governing state socialism.
A view of the semi-periphery striving for access to the (Western) core is prevalent in many accounts of the social sciences in the 1960s and 1970s, yet—reversing the usual historiographical perspective—the semi-periphery could also function as a space where alternative research agendas were articulated, fitting neither “Western” nor Marxist-Leninist science, while borrowing from both. Brought up in autobiographical accounts of the 1960s and early 1970s written in light of the new constraints of post-socialist transition, this perspective often resonates with the technocratic ideals of “apolitical” science. A good example is that of Tartu semiotics, the project of a universal meta-language, supposedly devoid of politics.
Throughout the 1960s, the semi-peripheral Tartu proved to be the ideal meeting point for what Jan Levchenko suggestively describes as an “invisible college with many centers” (Moscow semiotics) and a “leader without a school” (Yuri Lotman). In the 1970s and 1980s, semiotics followed a path not much different from that of Marxist revisionist philosophy throughout the Eastern bloc, undergoing extreme fragmentation and decline. This raises the question of whether the epistemological crisis of the 1980s was in effect a crisis of how the relationship between social science and politics could be understood, which deepened as it became clear that they were neither inextricable nor entirely separate. Yet another way to reverse historiographical perspective is to investigate the reception of East Central European research outside the region, beyond the works of prominent dissident intellectuals, and bring to the fore collaborative projects carried out in the social sciences across the East-West divide. A good case in point is that of transnational cooperation in the field of demographic research, originating with Western demographers’ interest in the “demographic laboratories” of Eastern Europe, which were experimenting with unprecedented family, reproductive, and demographic policies. Apart from the configuration of an European network around the French school of demography in the second half of the 1960s and the 1970s, Corina Doboş also shows that joint research and publication ventures struggled with conceptual homogenization and the difficulty of comparison across social and political contexts. More generally, internationalization in the social sciences in the period was not a straightforward success story.
The uneven distribution of resources and epistemic power in international organizations was acutely perceived by social scientists in the Eastern bloc, yet international frameworks could, at the same time, be used to forge new research opportunities, notably at a regional level. Between the 1960s and 1980s, concepts of regions underwent profound transformations, with the “recovery of multiple conceptual frameworks of regionality.” As documented in this volume by Bogdan Iacob for the case of Southeast Europe, part of the story was the negotiation of Balkan studies as a field of expertise within the framework of UNESCO. On the one hand, UNESCO became a platform for the democratization of cultural exchanges between the countries of Southeastern Europe in the first half of the 1960s and supported the institutionalization of Balkan studies. On the other hand, by coproducing knowledge about the region, scholars aimed to overcome the peripherialization and oversimplification of Europe’s division along the East-West line. Despite problems with reaching consensus on topics such as the Byzantine Empire and the Ottoman past, the project lasted to the early 1980s, when it was plagued by financial difficulties, the rise of nationalisms, and a new paradigm shift which brought globalization, rather than regionalization, to the fore.
Realignments: Late Socialism, Post-Socialism, and Beyond
The epistemological changes of the late socialist and post-socialist periods have long remained in the shadow of the spectacular socioeconomic and political transformations of East Central Europe. Late socialism emerged in the historiography of the Soviet Union to mark the period between the mid-1950s and perestroika; that is, the period “when the [Soviet] system was still being experienced as eternal.” Its analytical value for East Central Europe rests in capturing this paradoxical continuity with post-socialism. While the period itself has more aptly been described as post-Stalinism, the term tends to refer to different timespans depending on both the context and the historical processes described. As for the post-socialist period, although there is a vast transitological literature, Michal Kopeček and Piotr Wciślik, in dialogue with critical social scientific approaches to transition, only recently made a strong case for the need to recover the intellectual history of the period, reminding us that “ideas have […] a different dynamism than social structures and everyday interactions.”
The historiography of the social sciences, specifically, has been entangled with the ongoing work of restructuring the canons, elites, and epistemic aspirations of various disciplines in the post-socialist period. Many of the resulting histories have been compiled by self-identified members of the disciplines themselves; assumed the existence of relatively strict boundaries between disciplines; and have considered the respective national contexts as the natural frame of reference. Moreover, social science in East Central Europe has often re-embarked on a mission to “catch up with the West,” which meant that little reflection was spared for the state socialist period and for the continuities between late socialism and post-socialism. So far, this framing of knowledge production in terms of backwardness and colonization has been criticized most explicitly in the case of socialist Hungary.
The Working Group on Public Sociology “Helyzet,” of which Zoltan Ginelli and Agnes Gagyi are members, proposed that knowledge production should be understood as a local adjustment of global processes to the conditions of the semiperiphery, thus shifting focus away from the inner workings of various scientific fields to their embeddedness in local and global socioeconomic contexts. Along these lines, Gagyi analyzes reform economic thought in late socialist Hungary as the result of intertwined macro and meso processes: Hungary’s semi-peripheral position in the geopolitical and economic context of the Cold War; changing economic policies, notably the New Economic Mechanism and its rollback; and intellectual alliances that reconfigured the possibility of criticism, especially the renewed “politicization” activated by dissident discourse. The case of “Fordulat es reform,” the political critique resulting from the alliance of reform economists and dissident intellectuals, is instructive for the current historiographical debate over the 1980s and neoliberalism. Working backwards from the disputed accounts of the transition to capitalism in Hungary, Adam Fabry has proposed that the Financial Research Institute and “Fordulat es reform” were the site and the articulation of proto-neoliberal ideas and practices. By the same logic, rejecting the interpretative framework of “backwardness” and “colonization,” Fabry challenges accounts that present neoliberalism as an import of the post-socialist period. Where Gagyi shows that the idea of depoliticized expert knowledge in the field of economics developed only late in the 1980s, Fabry tracks the organic emergence of neoliberalism in late socialist Hungary.
One of the main stakes in discussions of late socialism and post-socialism, much like in the case of Sovietization, is that of epistemological continuities, especially for disciplines fully institutionalized only in the post-socialist period, such as anthropology or political science. Obscured intellectual and institutional genealogies have been restored to explain the lack of resistance to or criticism of neoliberal transformations in social science and higher education. Statistical analysis of the patterns of recruitment, institutional support, and scholarly recognition within new research fields in the post-socialist period similarly shed light on the structural, rather than epistemological explanations for the social sciences’conservatism after an initial period of internationalization. Tracking long-term developments has the advantage of identifying broader, regional patterns, and historicizing present-day intellectual standpoints. The example of Bulgarian anthropology detailed by Aliki Angelidou is illuminating in that it shows how an early 1970s split between (Soviet-style) ethnography and folklore along the lines of empiricism versus theory and material versus spiritual culture carried into the post-socialist period, rendering anthropology—a discipline identified with modernization and Westernization—a field of contestation(s), from its very name to its intellectual orientation.
At the same time, the mechanisms of the distribution of resources, prestige, and epistemic power in a field of research are not always graspable only through analyses of intellectual debates, especially when these are neither transparent, nor self-reflective of their participants’ stakes. The case of Hungarian political science mapped by Emese Cselenyi shows that the most drastic institutional rupture, irrespective of “invisible” epistemological continuities, could mean that a very successful, virtually unchallenged institutionalization of the research field was possible in the post-socialist period. Publication, citation, and recognition practices sustain a configuration of the field where resources and disciplinary elites are clearly centralized in the capital, with several institutions hosting the majority of most active and well-established scholars. The discussion of citation patterns, in particular, opens up the analysis to a mapping of knowledge production and circulation, a point specifically taken up by Zsuzsanna Biro in her study of Hungarian education science in the post-socialist period. By comparing patterns of scholarly communication in Hungary with those in France and Germany, Biro was able to identify a low internationalization of the field, a marked increase in interdisciplinarity, as well as a relative lack of theoretical interests on the part of Hungarian education scientists.
Kinga Petervari’s long-term account of the role of different legal professions in Hungarian law-making up to the Civil Code of 2013 and the Basic Law of 2011 fittingly concludes the volume. While it is too early to assess systematically the social sciences’ and humanities’ relationship to power after the transition period in East Central Europe, or more generally on the semi-peripheries of Europe, the issues of scientific autonomy, technocratic governance, censorship, and repression of intellectual and academic freedom have been brought to the spotlight again. The case of law-making in Hungary stands out as a clear example of the growing leverage of bureaucratic and political power over academic expertise, yet Petervari complicates this picture by comparing private and constitutional law. She shows that Professorenrecht paradoxically became, and then largely remained, a feature of private law only after 1945. Constitutional law, however, has seen a decline in the role of academics both in the aftermath of the Second World War and in the post-transition period. While Petervari suggests that this might not be new, the modes of legitimation developed by political bureaucrats in the process of marginalizing the role of legal expertise are; this, in turn, might change how the social sciences and humanities formulate their epistemological, social, and political commitments moving forward.
For the authors of this volume, as well as for many of the social scientists they observe, a keen peripheral vision is anything but marginal to their respective fields of research. The practice of observing the periphery from the geographical, institutional, or intellectual periphery requires a double negotiation: of the self-perceived position on the map of knowledge production, including the danger of naturalizing it; and of the research methods and interests that organize the observations. The former is ethical and often involves the sense of responsibility towards the people, ideas, and historical configurations which are outside of focus in existing histories of the social sciences and humanities after 1945. The latter is epistemological and entails fine-tuning the histories told so that they are understandable both within the field of research in which they are inscribed and to the subjects of the histories themselves. While in our volume the results of these negotiations vary, the dilemmas underpinning them are visible throughout. In bringing them to the fore, this introduction has sought to signal the need to approach them as topics of investigation in their own right.
Investigation, however, does not need to happen in isolation. The extent to which ethic and epistemological concerns are shared across local contexts (be they national or regional) is obscured by either the expectation that local circumstances would vary beyond comparison or the assumption that they are, for structural reasons, broadly the same. Beyond locating, collecting, and juxtaposing the work of scholars with similar research interests—the goal of this volume—and organizing it within a flexible chronological and thematical interpretative framework, there is a real need for collaborative and comparative work. Its aim is not so much to assess differences and similarities between already constituted local histories, but to develop new methods, including new analytical languages, to articulate these histories together, and through this rearticulate them individually as well.
Finally, the burden of explanation and translation should not lie on the peripheral observers alone. Participant observation by Western anthropologists in late socialist and post-socialist East Central Europe has resulted in sophisticated accounts of the region, and articulated transnational analytical languages in which local researchers have sought to acquire fluency. Following the abandonment of Marxism-Leninism and the internationalization of the social sciences, this has opened multiple—including intra-regional—paths of communication, and resulted in the further hybridization of these languages. Peripheral observers carrying out collaborative and comparative work in hybridized local variants of transnational discourse can and should also expect to be understood on their own terms.
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 Engerman,“Social Science in the Cold War”; and Solovey, “Cold War Social Science.”
 Porter,“Positioning Social Science in Cold War America.”
 On the question of the emergence and prospects of the field, see Daye, “Visions of a Field.”
 This is also highlighted in Boldyrev and Kirtchik, “On (Im)permeabilities,” the introduction to a double issue on the history of the social and human sciences on both sides of the Iron Curtain. With its focus on the Soviet Union and on instances of transfer, mediation, and cooperation across the East-West divide, the issue is in many ways complementary to this volume. Similarly, see the issue on “Sociology under State Socialism” edited by Matthias Duller and Mikołaj Pawlak, Stan Rzeczy, no. 2 (2017).
 Heilbron, Sora, and Boncourt, The Social and Human Sciences.
 Karady, ‘A State Nobility’ in the Social Sciences and Humanities.”
 See, for example, Peteri, Academia and State Socialism.
 Connelly, Captive University.
 Conelly and Gruttner, Universities under Dictatorship.
 See Rees, “Introduction,” and the rest of the studies collected in Apor, Apor, and Rees, The Sovietization of Eastern Europe.
 For a comprehensive literature review, see Babiracki, “Interfacing the Soviet Bloc.”
 Litkei, “The Molnar Debate of 1950.”
 On the conceptualization of the postwar as a distinct period characterized by the entangled processes of postwar reconstruction and the building of socialism, see Grama, “Laboring Along.”
 Petrovici, “The Politics of Mobilizing Local Resources for Growth.”
 Kaase and Sparschuh, Three Social Science Disciplines.
 For history writing as part of the system of planned science in Socialist Romania, see Iacob, “Stalinism, Historians, and the Nation.”
 Jones, “Introduction,”11.
 Zavatti, Writing History in a Propaganda Institute, 140–156.
 For a complex rereading of women’s history in state socialist Romania with a focus on reproductive labor in the interwar period, see Ghiţ, “Professionals’ and Amateurs’ Pasts.”
 Alternative projects of re-institutionalization are discussed in Bosomitu,“Sociology in Communist Romania,” 68–77.
 Takacs, “The Sociological Incident,” 243–62.
 Cotoi, “Sociology and Ethnology in Romania,” 142.
 Vořišek, “Antagonist, Type, or Deviation?”
 Beissinger, Scientific Management.
 Sommer, “Towards the Expert Governance.”
 Michael Vořišek has convincingly argued that the phrase originated not within the Stalinist orthodoxy proper, but rather as part of Marxist sociologists’ derogatory anti-Stalinist campaigns. Vořišek, The Reform Generation, 114–26.
 For a short survey of the studies published before 1989, and the first of a three-volume series covering the history of postwar and post-socialist sociology in East Central Europe, as told and recalled by the sociologies themselves, see Keen and Mucha, eds., Eastern Europe in Transformation. An extensive critical review of the existing historiography of sociology is offered in Vořišek, “Sociology in Soviet Europe.” For an earlier attempt at a comparative overview to the same effect, see Kiss, Marxismus als Soziologie.
 An important hub that regularly put together thematic surveys of sociological literature East and West was the European Coordination Centre for Research and Documentation in Social Sciences (Vienna Centre). Collected surveys of sociology in East Central Europe were also published in Wiatr, ed., The State of Sociology in Eastern Europe; and International Review of Modern Sociology 13, nos. 1–2 (1983).
 Brunnbauer, Kraft, and Wessel, “Introduction,” 4.
 For the case of Hungary, see Gagyi and Eber, “Class and Social Structure”; for Czechoslovakia,
see Vořišek, The Reform Generation, 208–234; and for Yugoslavia, see Lazić, “Sociology in Yugoslavia,” 93–99.
 Mazurek, “Between Sociology and Ideology.”
 Sommer, “Scientists of the World, Unite!”
 Lazić, “Sociology in Yugoslavia.”
 On the role of the Ford Foundation exchange program in the destalinization of the Polish social sciences, see Czernecki, “The Intellectual Offensive.”
 For an oveview of the long 1960s in Hungary, for example, see Rainer, “The Sixties in Hungary.”
 The central role played by the sociology of youth in the emergence of a post-Stalinist Marxist humanist discourse in Bulgaria is discussed in Valiavicharska, “Spectral Socialisms,” 66–91.
 Marks and Savelli, “Communist Europe and Transnational Psychiatry,” 19.
 Garcia et al., “Portuguese Sociology,” 361–64.
 Carriera da Silva, Sociology in Portugal, 14–23; Agoas, review of Sociology in Portugal.
 Iacob, “Is It Transnational?” For an argument about how the study of communism in power both anticipated the transnational turn and maintained the importance of nation-states as units of analysis, see Kolař, “Transnational and Global History.”
 Andersson and Rindzevičiūtė, “Toward a New History of the Future,” 1.
 Bockman, Markets in the Name of Socialism.
 Rindzevičiūtė, The Power of Systems, 213–17.
 Keen and Mucha, Autobiographies of Transformation.
 45 Mishkova and Trencsenyi, introduction to European Regions and Boundaries, 10.
 Yurchak, Everything Was Forever, 4.
 Kolař, Der Poststalinismus.
 A focus on economic change, for example, would identify late socialism in both Hungary
and Romania with the 1980s. See Fabry, “The Origins of Neoliberalism”; and Ban, “Sovereign Debt.”
 Kopeček and Wciślik, “Towards an Intellectual History of Post-Socialism,” 17.
 For some examples of self-reflective accounts of the development of sociology in the former Eastern bloc and the immediate post-socialist period, see Keen and Mucha, Sociology in Central and Eastern Europe; and Nedelmann and Sztompka, Sociology in Europe.
 Eber et al., “A Globalized History of Social Sciences and Policies.”
 Fabry, “The Origins of Neoliberalism.”