Of the many crises that Europe faces today, it is the migration crisis that most profoundly defines the changing nature of European politics. It is also a turning point in central and east European societies’ attitudes to the European Union, and it signals the return of the east-west divide in Europe. The article argues that what Brussels describes as a lack of solidarity is actually a clash of solidarities: national, ethnic, and religious solidarity chafing against our moral and legal obligations with respect to the refugees. The east-west divide over migration has its roots in history, demography and the twists of post-communist transition, while at the same time representing an east European version of popular revolt against globalization. The attitude divide between Europe's west and east on issues of diversity and migration strongly resembles the divide between the big cosmopolitan capital cities and the countryside within western societies themselves.
This essay argues that what is at stake in debates about the difference between eastern and western Europe in the context of migration and asylum politics is the definition of a politically- and ethically-acceptable threshold of “too many,” which takes on concrete contours in relation to historically-formed understandings of coherent selves and viable polities. The argument derives from placing analysis of the alleged political and ethical failures of eastern Europe alongside those limits of refugee/migrant intake that are considered politically legitimate and ethically justifiable from the mainstream liberal democratic perspective. The essay proposes that in order to understand the European political landscape in relation to migration, it is necessary to undertake relational analysis of the different configurations of the Europe-wide tension between inclusion and exclusion, as well as analysis of the modes of power that differentiate between these configurations of inclusion and exclusion on moral grounds.
This contribution interprets the east-central European post-liberal governments’ recent anti-immigrant, anti-refugee and anti-human-rights hysteria in the context of the increasing dependence of the region's societies for livelihood on employment in the western EU, the widespread racialization of east European labor in the western EU, and the refusal of east European political elites and societies at large to consider possible “Left” critiques of the EU. Given those circumstances, and laboring under related anxieties, post-state-socialist political elites and societies have assumed a fundamentalist-racialist posture. They redirect their repressed anger toward incoming refugees, claim an ahistorical, essential kind of Whiteness and contribute to rigidifying European discussions of “race.”
In this piece, we develop a more complex picture of the East-West divisions that have characterized much analysis of the region since the crisis began. By examining how differently positioned actors have responded, the migration flows become a heuristic for other important but less visible processes in post-socialist state formation and Euro-integration. We use the complexity of Serbia's reception as an empirical ground to create a new analytic framework that moves beyond over-simplified dichotomies. Doing this allows us to bring seemingly unrelated kinds of political action into the same frame to reveal an emerging trend in citizen and noncitizen political engagement.
In 1832, an imperial manifesto established a new social estate (soslovie) of “honored citizens.” The new status was granted to successful merchants, professionals, and artists, and gave them permanent (and sometimes inherited) privilege. Honored citizens have been largely forgotten or discounted, both by literary authors of the nineteenth century and by historians. They were, however, a conscious effort on the part of the imperial state to create a middle class in the context of an estate-based social structure, an effort that followed several decades of previous experimentation and discussion. Thousands of subjects of the Russian Empire took on the new status, to the point that by 1897 honored citizens outnumbered merchants. They understood themselves as having an honorable place in the social structure, and were understood as a sign of the status of Russian towns. Honored citizen status gave a certain amount of stability to the new middle class, although not every honored citizen prospered. As a social estate, honored citizens were unique, for they were not unified in opportunity, and because they did not have a collective association—they were individuals in the law. They were, as a result, present and important but paradoxical: while defined by estate law, they were closer to individual subjects or even citizens than almost anyone else in imperial society. In addition, their lack of a collective voice muted their radical potential, masking them from contemporary and historical view.
The article presents a biographical reconstruction of the life of the painter Isaak Izrailevich Brodskii (1884–1939) through the lens of his painting “Vladimir Lenin in Smolnyi” (1930). Brodskii (and his work) are shown against the background of the terror of the 1930s, an ideological rupture in his artistic vision and his attainment of personal success. The diaries of Pavel N. Filonov help us to see Brodskii from an unusual angle. The impulse to write articles was an exhibition of “old art” (“Ars Nobilis”), which was held in the exhibition halls of Volkswagen in Berlin from October 18–27, 2002. Two portraits of Lenin by Brodksii were displayed there: “Vladimir Lenin in Smolnyi” and “Lenin reading Pravda” (1930) from the private collection of Otto von Mitzlaff.
This essay, with a focus on Baku, Azerbaijan, demonstrates that the need to secure and hold energy resources—and the infrastructures that support them—was critical to the formation of the Soviet Union. The Azerbaijani statesman Nariman Narimanov played a pivotal role in the establishment of Soviet power in Azerbaijan by attempting to use Baku's oil to secure prerogatives for the Azerbaijan SSR. In part, Narimanov gained his position by striking a deal with Vladimir Lenin in 1920, an arrangement that I am calling the oil deal. This deal lay the foundations of Soviet power in the south Caucasus. Lenin charged Narimanov with facilitating connections between the industrial stronghold of Baku and the rural countryside of Azerbaijan and Narimanov agreed to do what he could to help supply Soviet Russia with oil. Lenin put Narimanov in charge of the Soviet government of Azerbaijan, with the understanding that he would be granted significant leeway in cultural policies. Understanding the role of the south Caucasus in Soviet history, then, is also understanding how the extraction and use of oil and other natural resources were entangled with more familiar questions of nationalities policy and identity politics.
In 1924, the self-taught artist Iurii Nikolaevich Rozhkov created a series of photomontages inspired by Vladimir Maiakovskii's poem “To the Workers of Kursk” and the geological discovery of the Kursk Magnetic Anamoly (KMA). Rozhkov's series for Maiakovskii's ode to labor is both an example of the political propaganda of the reconstruction period of the NEP era and a polemical answer to all those who relentlessly attacked Maiakovskii and criticized avant-garde art as alien to the masses. The article introduces Rozhkov's less-known photomontage series as a new model of the avant-garde photopoetry book, which offers a sequential reading of Maiakovskii's poem and functions as a cinematic dispositive of the early Soviet agitprop apparatus (dispositif). Bošković argues that the photopoem itself converts into an idiosyncratic avant-garde de-mountable memorial to the working class: a dynamic cine-dispositive through which the the early agitprop apparatus is realized in lived experience, reproduced, and transformed, thus delineating its shift towards the new dispositif of the late 1920s—socialist realism.
This article compares Tomáš Bata's development of Zlín as a company town with the architectural theory of Karel Teige. Despite political differences— Bat’a was a champion of “American” capitalism, Teige a leader of the leftist avant-garde—they had unexpectedly similar ideas about architectural design and city planning. The article uses James C. Scott's definition of high modernism as a starting point to explain these commonalities, historically contextualizing the two men's thinking as a specific iteration of this ideology. Both, for instance, paradoxically sought to incorporate liberal, democratic values (typical of the rhetoric of state building in interwar Czechoslovakia) into their authoritarian plans. This analysis helps explain subsequent, socialist architectural developments, in which Teige's theory and Bat’a's practices were combined. In this, the article contributes to an understanding of Czechoslovakia's post-1948 cultural history not in terms of impositions from Moscow, but as building on native institutions.
Using Poland as example, the article explores the operation of east European communist welfare states, with particular attention paid to benefits offered to working mothers. By exploring a number of diverse sources, I analyze the evolution and the meaning of institutional care and maternity leave in the life of professionally-active women. Studying a variety of factors that shaped the welfare policies of the time, including post-war industrialization, consumption, the demographic panic, and the struggling economy of the twilight years of communism, I attach particular importance to the early 1970s, when Poland saw a particular shift in gender-equality discourse. Welfare benefits played a key role in communists states, serving as a guarantee of equal opportunities or, in the case of mothers, as a tool for potentially facilitating employment. In time, however, they became chiefly tools designed to control the population and female fertility.