Summary of Workshop Proceedings:
“Social Sciences since 1945 in East and West: Continuities, Discontinuities, Institutionalization, and Internationalization”
The workshop “Social Sciences since 1945 in East and West: Continuities, Discontinuities, Institutionalization, and Internationalization,” convened by Victor Karady (Central European University, Budapest), Péter Tibor Nagy (John Wesley College, Budapest), and Balázs Trencsényi (Central European University, Budapest), took place at Central European University on April 27–30, 2015, under the auspices of Past Inc. Centre for Historical Research of the History Department at CEU. Whereas the Second World War was recognized as a watershed moment in the history of the social sciences in Europe as a whole, with the period of reconstruction marked by the expansion, diversification, and specialization of this field of research, the workshop aimed to illuminate how Cold War divisions translated into intellectual and institutional practices in the social sciences East and West in the postwar period. The disciplines covered by the designation of social sciences and humanities were, broadly: cultural and social anthropology, ethnology, demography, economics, educational science, philosophy, political science, psychology, sociology, scientific socialism, social and/or political history, and geography. The workshop proposed three foci of interest, detailing an agenda for studying the recent history of the social sciences on the European continent.
The first broad theme of interest included processes of institutional development, to be analyzed comparatively and on a long-term basis: the institutionalization of the social sciences through the foundation of agencies for learning and research (university chairs, academic research institutes, governmental agencies, scholarly associations, disciplinary journals, etc.); the recruitment patterns of social scientists (PhDs, university staff, fellows, etc.); the public weight and influence of the social sciences (indicators of public power, the readership of scientific journals in the social sciences, the growth or decline in demand for training in the social sciences, etc.). The second thematic focus covered the processes of internationalization of the social sciences in the postwar period: the East-West and North-South exchange and circulation of students, scholars, and academic staff; setting up spaces and occasions for international cooperation between scholars (collaborative and comparative research projects, some funded by international agencies, teaching programs, international conferences, etc.); the impact of contemporary intellectual authorities in the social sciences in various national contexts (their reception, translation, integration into the local scholarly discourses), as well as the local application and impact of scholarly paradigms such as Marxism, structuralism, symbolical interactionism, methodological individualism, functionalism, etc. The third stated interest was an assessment of continuities and discontinuities between the prewar and postwar periods in terms of research methodologies, theoretical agendas, thematic interests, and institutional arrangements, in a comparative perspective.
Following the welcome address of Matthias Riedl, the head of the CEU History Department, the workshop opened with a panel on processes of institutionalization, chaired by Yves Gingras (Université du Québec à Montréal). Christian Fleck (University of Graz) and Mathias Duller (pre-doc researcher INTERCO-SSH, University of Graz) presented and synthetized parts of the data collected within the INTERCO-SSH project (International Cooperation in the Social Sciences & Humanities: Comparative Socio-Historical Perspectives and Future Possibilities) on the institutionalization of seven SSH disciplines in seven countries, discussing different methodological approaches to the comparative analysis of the data, both quantitative and qualitative. Victor Karady’s (CNRS – Paris, CEU – Budapest) talk on the institutionalization of the social sciences in Hungary mobilized data on the inconsistent growth of the size of the student body and university staff in the SSH up to the 2010s, and analyzed a set of statistical indicators related to practitioners of the social sciences as compared to those of the humanities, comparing disciplines based on variables such as types of publications, the authors’ position in universities and the Academy of Science, training track, etc. Rob Timans (PhD student INTERCO, Amsterdam) and Johan Heilbron (Erasmus University of Rotterdam) presented data on the institutionalization of SSH in the Netherlands, 1945–2010, with a focus on the period after 1980. They highlighted several particularities of the Dutch system of higher education, and discussed the preliminary results of a study on the presence of Dutch social scientists in the mainstream media. Fernanda Beigel (CONICET, Argentina) offered a historical overview of the SSH in Argentina in the second half of the 20th century, and analyzed the current state of the institutional basis of SSH in Argentina through four databases (researchers, journals, research institutes, and publications) pointing out the structural heterogeneity of the field, its segmented circuits of prestige, and the existing tension between nationally and internationally oriented scientists. The panel concluded with the presentation of Mariana Heredia (CONICET/IDEAS-UNSAM/UBA, Buenos Aires) on the history of economics in Argentina, which followed the development from a discipline centered on the nation-state to international-private, governmental-centered expertize.
The second day of the workshop began with a panel on internationalization and exchange patterns, chaired by Jean-Louis Fabiani (EHESS – Paris, CEU – Budapest). Yves Gingras and Johan Heilbron analyzed the development of transnational collaboration in the SSH in Europe, 1980–2014, based on bibliometric data from the Web of Science. Thibaud Boncourt (INTERCO-SSH, Paris) provided information on the development of political science and sociology from the 1950s onwards, through examining the development of the International Political Science Association (IPSA) and the International Sociological Association (ISA). He argued that several forms of autonomization, professionalization, and internationalization are common to both disciplines, and that the circulation of actors and practices between them suggests the configuration of a transnational social science organizational field. Ioana Popa (CNRS, Paris) discussed the set-up in the mid-1950s of a French area studies division at the 6th Section of the École pratique des hautes études, in particular its Russian, Soviet, and Eastern European program, which aimed to connect Eastern and Western social sciences despite the political constraints of the Cold War. Gustavo Sorá (CONICET – National University of Córdoba) and Alejandro Dujovne (CONICET – Institute of Economic and Social Development) discussed the dynamics of the publishing market for SSH translations in Argentina, 1990–2011, pointing to the “central” place that peripheral places like Argentina may have for understanding the power structures and struggles in the transnational field of SSH. Translating the social sciences was also the topic of Rafael Schögler’s (University of Graz) talk on translators and paratext writers of SSH literature from German to French, 2003–2013, based on the data from the French Electra database. Gisèle Sapiro (CNRS-EHESS, Paris) broached the topic of the asymmetrical circulation of SSH books in translation between France and the United States in the era of globalization using a quantitative, qualitative, and comparative approach, and presented the case studies of thinkers such as Bourdieu, Derrida, and Piketty. Concluding the panel, Marek Skovajsa (Charles University, Prague) used data on the content and citations of the main journal of Czech sociology, Sociologický časopis, between 1968 and 1989, to study the changing international influences on Czech sociology, as well as the journal’s influence outside Czechoslovak sociology since the 1960s.
The second panel of the day, chaired by Gisèle Sapiro, brought to the fore reception and importation patterns in the SSH. Patrick Baert (University of Cambridge) and Marcus Morgan (post-doc, INTERCO) presented the case study of the reception of structuralism in the UK, whereas Marco Santoro (University of Bologna) discussed the global circulation of Gramsci, Barbara Grüning (INTERCO-SSH, Berlin) the reception of Hannah Arendt in Germany and Italy, Jean-Michel Chahsiche (INTERCO-SSH, Paris) the importation of Karl Polanyi’s work in France, 1974–2014, and Lucile Dumont (EHESS/TEPSIS/INTERCO, Paris) the circulation of French literary theory in the US, particularly the reception of Roland Barthes’s and Gérard Genette’s works in the 1960s to the 1980s. The case of Hanna Arendt was also the focus, later in the day, of Stefania Maffeis’s (Freie Universität Berlin) talk on the reception of The Origins of Totalitarianism between the US and Western Germany, shown to exemplify the transnational and transdisciplinary character of the totalitarian discourse in the Western social sciences. A comparison of the 1950s and 1990s brought forth (dis)continuities and patterns of institutionalization and internationalization of the totalitarian paradigm. Christian Fleck, Matthias Duller, and Rafael Schögler presented results from a comparative analysis of the public interventions of SSH scholars from ten countries during the election campaign for the European parliament in May 2014.
The first panel of the third workshop day tackled East-East and East-West relations during the Cold War and after, and was chaired by Péter Tibor Nagy. Inquiring into the encounters between American, French, and Italian anthropologists and sociologists who conducted fieldwork in Romania after 1968 and their Romanian counterparts, Călin Goinea (Babeş-Bólyai University, Cluj-Napoca) argued that the academic impact of this East-West contact was at best negligible, and elaborated on some of the reasons that might explain this situation. Bogdan Iacob (New Europe College, Bucharest) discussed the relationship between the renewal of Southeast European Studies/Balkanology under the umbrella of the International Association for Southeast European Studies (founded in 1963) and the politics of Europeanization pursued by countries in the region, underlining the connections between epistemic communities, symbolic geographies, and Cold War politics. A little known case study of East-East relations was presented by Grigore Moldovan (Romanian Academy, “Grigore Bariţiu” Institute of History, Cluj), who placed the history of the Institute for Romanian-Soviet Studies at the intersection of Moscow-influenced state designs and implementation within the institutional structures of planned science. The Harvard project in the Soviet Social System of the 1950s was the topic of Nataliia Laas’s (Carnegie Fellow, Harvard University) talk on blurring the boundaries between “Eastern” and “Western” knowledge, between “the examiner” and “the examined.” She showed how various actors engaged in the project contributed to producing different, sometimes contradicting research agendas on the Soviet Union.
Péter Tibor Nagy also chaired the panel on economics and law, opened by Thierry Rossier (Lausanne University), who investigated the historical development of economics and business studies since 1945 in Switzerland, showing that these disciplines shifted from a dominated position to a dominant one in the Swiss academic field. Taking as a case study the critique of state market economy elaborated by the “reform economists” of the Financial Research Institute in late socialist Hungary, Ágnes Gagyi (George Masons University) argued for an understanding of local developments at the conjuncture of the interconnected effects of intellectual exchange, global economic processes, geopolitics, and national politics. Kinga Pétervári (Faculty of Law, University of Budapest) discussed the institutionalization of different legal professions in the legislative process in Hungary, specifically the case of the new Civil Code of 2013.
The panel on social disciplines specialized and compared, chaired by Fernanda Beigel began with Corina Doboş’s (University of Bucharest) presentation of the institutionalization of demography in communist Romania at the end of the 1960s and in the 1970s. Focusing on the debates at the World Population Conference, held in Bucharest in 1974, she analyzed the specific arguments advanced by Romanian demographers in order to harmonize the national demographical goals pursued by the Ceauşescu regime with the international UN-supported family planning programs. Tobias Dalberg (Institute of Sociology, Uppsala University) discussed the institutional development of Swedish social sciences and humanities, 1960–2005, and mapped the contemporary social and economic structure of the SSH disciplines by studying the recruitment patterns of undergraduates and PhD students. The case study of educational science in Sweden, 1945–2015, was then taken up by Mikael Börjesson and Donald Broady (Institute of Sociology of Education and Culture, Uppsala University), with an emphasis on its relations to the state administration and the political field, shown to have been of crucial importance in the discipline’s development. Anna Birkás (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest) analyzed the institutionalization of party historiography in Socialist Hungary, 1948–1989, as not just a new phenomenon of the postwar period, but a continuation of the historical discourses in the communist movement of the interwar period. András Németh, Éva Szabolcs, and Zsuzsana Hanna Biró (Institute of Education, ELTE University, Budapest) followed up with an overview of educational science in Hungary in the 1950s and 1960s, offering an analysis of the disciplinary shift and the communication networks developing in the field, based on an extensive bibliographical database. Ferenc Gyuris (ELTE, Budapest) and Zoltán Gyimesi (ELTE, Budapest) both approached the topic of geography in Socialist Hungary. Whereas Gyuris offered an overview of the long-term development of the discipline, with a focus on the “communist turn” and particularly the process of Sovietization, Gymesi presented the theoretical background which would enable a globalized understanding of semi-peripheral knowledge production in Hungarian geography, with an interest in the “quantitative revolution” in spatial analysis, the reception of neoclassical economics, and the circulation of spatial planning theories between West and East in the postwar period.
On the final day of the workshop, Balázs Trencsényi chaired the panel on soviet sociology, which set off with a presentation by Olessia Kirtchik (Poletayev Institute for Theoretical and Historical Studies in the Humanities, Moscow). Based on interviews with Soviet mathematical economists and published sources, Kirtchik explored the institutionalization of the field of economic cybernetics in the postwar period, shown to have been shaped by the interplay between national and international intellectual dynamics, by strategic (political) imperatives, and the autonomous logic of research demanding high technical skills. Sergei Alymov (Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow) brought forth the history of postwar Soviet ethnography up to the 1960s, whereas Alexander Dmitriev (Poletayev Institute for Theoretical and Historical Studies in the Humanities, Moscow) followed the development of regional schools in philosophy in the post-Stalin period, arguing that the unity of Soviet philosophy was reproduced not only due to ideological censorship but also through interaction of different schools and limited “creative” development of (academic) Marxism. Jan Levchenko (Higher School of Economics, Moscow) concluded the panel with a talk on the context of and the various periods in the development of the Moscow-Tartu Semiotic School.
The topic of social sciences under state control was broached by Vida Savoniakaité (Lithuanian Institute of History, Vilna), who discussed several cases of Lithuanian anthropology and ethnology since 1945, Veranika Bursevich (University of Misk, Belarus), who explored the history, state, and perspectives of scientific communication in the field of Belarusian sociology based on the analysis of the main professional journal Sociology, and Zoltán Rostás (University of Bucharest), who presented the background of the rehabilitation of sociology in 1960s Romania. Rostás argued that the existing account of the reinstitutionalization of sociology should be reconsidered in terms of its chronology, the role played by the sociologist Miron Constantinescu, and the rekindling of intellectual ties with the interwar sociological tradition.
Victor Karady chaired the final panel of the day, which explored continuities and ruptures in the social sciences, East and West. Péter Tibor Nagy presented empirical results from a statistical survey based on a prosopographical-scientometrical databank of SSH scholars cited in major recently published Hungarian encyclopedias, in order to discern various factors which would explain differences of the age of appointment in various university positions, like associate or full professorship. Bruno Monteiro (Institute of Sociology, University of Porto) gave an extensive overview of the history of Portuguese sociology, 1930–2010, distinguishing between the periods of the “inception momentum” (1928–1945), limited liberalization (1950–1974), revolutionary turmoil (1974–1988), and “polytheistic” development (1984–2014). Balázs Berkovits (Institute of Psychology, Hungarian Academy of Science) reflected on the uneven reception of Michel Foucault in Hungary among disciplines like philosophy, history, and the social sciences. The case of Bourdieu’s reception in Hungary since the early 1970s was then taken up by Ágoston Fáber (ELTE University, Budapest, EHESS Paris).
In their final remarks, Victor Karady, Péter Tibor Nagy, and Balázs Trencsényi revisited the major thematical foci of the workshop, and projected the publication an edited volume for 2016. The workshop proved to be a rare and very fruitful opportunity to bring into dialogue historical, sociological, and anthropological research interests into the recent history of the social sciences, informed by quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, and programmatically seeking to cut across the East-West divide.
- O istorie nefardata a reabilitarii sociologiei romanesti
- A Controlled Re-institutionalization of Sociology