Call for Papers - International Workshop: Agency versus Structure: Actors in the post-communist Transition

First online workshop of the SAW-research network „Legacies of Communism"

21 – 25 September 2020

The Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History, Potsdam (Leibniz-Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung, Potsdam, ZZF) is pleased to invite applications for participation in an online workshop within the research network "Legacies of Communism? Post-Communist Europe from Stagnation to Reform, between Autocracy and Revolution". Generously supported by the Leibniz Association, the interdisciplinary research network “Legacies of Communism“ with partners in six countries is hosted by the ZZF in Potsdam. It focuses on historical research of the political and social development of Eastern Europe and the former USSR from late socialism to post-communism. The project explores changes and continuities of political and social elites in post-communist countries across the 1989/1991 divide. It aims to better understand and interpret the rise of authoritarian rule in post-communist societies. In order to approach the legacies of communist rule, senior and junior fellows working from Ukraine, Estonia, Georgia, Poland and Hungary will contribute to the endeavor with their own projects.

This workshop intends to focus on one of the central theoretical questions posed by our research: in a time of rapid political and ideological change yet substantial continuities in practice and structure what should be privileged in our interpretations: the agency of our historical actors or the customs and norms built up over decades, which guide and frame these actions.

At the workshop ‘Agency versus structure’ to be held digitally from 21 to 25 September 2020 we call for papers which discuss this research dilemma both from a theoretical as well as empirical perspective drawing on our own research. We are particularly interested in determining the spaces in which agency could take place and trump/change existing norms and structures and/or the conditions in which actors decide to maintain/conform to existing conditions, hence actively perpetuating entrenched structures. We are aware that in between the two poles there are a number of actions that could be classified as manipulation, subversion or partial acceptance.A special focus should be placed on the agency of elites – both collectively and individually – and their ability to shape the very process of transformation. Additionally, we may reflect up on the mechanisms of interaction between agency and structure and the question what, if anything, was peculiar to them in the times of transformation to post-communism. Papers may deal with any of the post-communist countries in Europe and in the post-Soviet space.

If you want to participate in the online workshop, please send a one-page proposal to by 31 July 2020. For the workshop participants should submit a 12 – 15 page paper which includes original empirical research and could later be expanded into an article to be published within the framework of the legacy project. These papers should be submitted by 7 September 2020.

For further information you may contact Jan C. Behrends (, Corinna Kuhr-Korolev ( or Juliane Fürst ( For organizational questions please contact