‘The World is Watching Us’: The Politics of Universalism and Particularism in Czechoslovakia, 1918-1992

eye with world

‘The World is Watching Us’: The Politics of Universalism and Particularism in Czechoslovakia, 1918-1992

Tuesday, 23 November 2021 - 5:00pm
ESC Seminar Room/Hybrid webinar
Martin Schulze Wessel (Ludwig-Maximilian University, Munich; Weizsacker Fellow, St Antony’s College, Oxford)
Paul Betts (St Antony’s College, Oxford)
European Studies Seminar

Annual Richard von Weizsäcker Lecture

If you would like to attend this event virtually, please register with Zoom.

From the perspective of 1989 the 20th century in Europe seemed to be the story of a contested but ultimately successful triumph of liberal democracy over the  ideologies of communism, fascism and virulent nationalism. Prague was one of the main scenes of this heroic drama which contributed enduring images of European history: the proclamation of the Czechoslovak Republic 1918, the German occupation of Prague in March 1939, the seizure of power by the Communists in 1948, the protests of the Prague Spring on Wenceslas Square,  the Soviet occupation in August 1968, and finally the Velvet Revolution. Twentieth-first century trends in East Central Europe seem to have reversed these developments, especially in Hungary and Poland but to a certain degree also in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.  Particularistic framings now dominate contemporary East Central European politics. The lecture will explore the question of whether universalism and particularism are meaningful concepts with which to understand the broader sweep of Czechoslovak history.

Martin Schulze Wessel is Professor of East and South East European History at LMU Munich; Director of the Collegium Carolinum at the Research Institute for the History of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Munich-Prague. His research focuses on the history of Eastern and South Eastern Europe since the 18th century. Regionally, his focus is on the history of Russia and East Central Europe. He has studied the history of international relations, especially between Russia, Poland and Prussia-Germany, and the history of religion in the empires of the Habsburg Monarchy and the Tsarist Empire and their successor states. Currently, he is interested in the contemporary history of East Central Europe and especially in the history of Czechoslovakia.


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