E-Mail: akladnik [at] gmail.com
‘Traditional’ Civil Society in Late Socialism and Transformation in Central and Southeast Europe
My postdoctoral project is a comparative socio-cultural history of volunteerism in (post-)socialist Central and Southeast Europe in the last 20 years of the 20th century. I have concentrated on voluntary fire departments (VFD) as a typical example of those 'old' voluntary associations which originated in the pre-socialist period and have become part of the civil society infrastructure in post-socialism alongside the 'new' NGOs. The countries I would like to focus on, namely Czechoslovakia/Czech Republic and Yugoslavia/Serbia and Slovenia, provide broad variations with regard to the significance of volunteering traditions, models of state socialist governance experienced, national consolidation achieved and the paths of transition to democracy.
The goal of the project is to study practices of volunteerism within local self-governance in relation to the overall political and structural changes from late socialism to democratic statehood, by a comparison across East and Southeast European nation states. Questions I would like to address are: What was the role of ‘traditional’ voluntary organisations under late socialism? How and to what extent did regional traditions and continuities of volunteering interact with (post-)1989-91 political ruptures? How did ‘traditional’ voluntary organisations as nuclei of local sociability contribute to maintaining and stabilising the cohesion and identity of communities in a time of overall radical change and how were they in turn affected by these changes themselves? How did regional and national organisations get involved in international cooperation before, during and after the changes of 1989-91?