Archive for the ‘Katherine’ Category

Yugoslavia: a violent cauldron?

Friday, November 30th, 2007
  1. After your reading this week, do you think that Yugoslavia’s breakup was imminent?  Why or why not?  

  2. Do you think Yugoslavia was prone to violence?  Why or why not? 

Here is the intro to my last essay: My last essay focused on the image of Yugoslavia as a politically diverse nation that made it unique among its neighbors in the Balkans, from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present.  Yugoslavia often experienced a different course of events compared to its eastern central European neighbors in World War One, the interwar years, World War Two, the Soviet period, and even after the fall of the Soviet Union.  Some historians are apt to explain this historical uniqueness in universalist or even relativist terms.  Still others have explained Yugoslavia’s history in narratives that succumb to what Sabrina Ramet calls ‘the myth of ancient hatreds’: Noel Malcolm, Mitja Velikonja, Robert Kaplan, Milovan Djilas, and CIA analysts among them. (more…)

When Father Was Away on Business

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

Before anything is said of this movie, some insights into “Eastern Europe” found in Larry Wolff’s Inventing Eastern Europe: The Map of Civilization on the Mind of the Enlightenment(more…)

An alternative for Thursday, November 15…

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007
The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars invites you to attend the 2007 Ion Ratiu Democracy Lecture by Anatoli Mikhailov (Belarus), “Democracy as a Challenge.” The event will take place on 15 November 2007 from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the Flom Auditorium at the Wilson Center. A full reception will follow at 6:00 p.m. (more…)

“Sources and Consequences” of 1989

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

Social Currents in Eastern Europe: The Sources and Consequences of the Great Transformation by Sabrina Petra Ramet is a joy to read.  The fact that Gorbachev remains free from her detailed analysis until page 317 is reason alone to read this book.  Let me list the many other fine features of this narrative:  it is precise in its analysis of East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Albania, Romania, and Bulgaria; it is well organized and the salient points of its thesis are argued substantively; the social aspects of activism, religion, feminism, and rock music are gently framed in the political events of the communist and post-communist period; the author, while building a historical sense of the events that triggered the “revolution” of 1989, has included an logical  prediction of future events in these countries after the conclusion; public opinion polls taken in the listed countries are an interesting and insightful inclusion in the appendix found in the back of this book; the author has included a selected bibliography as a guide for further reading on any given subject or country; and lastly, not the least of which, the author shares the details of her own personal transformation while researching this book, her change in physical sex from Pedro Ramet to that of Sabrina Ramet.  For this reader, the author’s brave personal revelation gave credibility to the research and effort put into writing this narrative before the first page was even seen. (more…)


Friday, October 12th, 2007

Disgust and revulsion were common feelings elicited while reading the account of the Jedwabne pogrom in Neighbors, written by Jan T. Gross .  In fact, I could not finish some parts of the chapter titled “Plunder” for it so clearly described despicable and barbaric events that I had recently heard repeated in Bosnia.  For this reason, I cannot claim this book review will be objective; indeed, it will be more responsive and guttural than a critical assessment of its contents.  (more…)

Native Fascism

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

Native Fascism in the Successor States, 1918-1945. Peter F. Sugar, editor. ABC-Clio, Inc., 1971.

Read the essays in this collection edited by Peter F. Sugar and you may be able to define the elements of a fascist government: anti-Austrian, nationalistic, an urban movement against liberal democracy, and against the “other” (minorities—often anti-Jew; but anti- Serb in the case of Romania or Croatia; and anti-German or Ukrainian in the case of Poland). Then again, you may still find it difficult to come to a clearer definition of fascism after reading these essays, as this reader did, since each essayist offered a different definition. More ambiguous is the idea of “native” fascism. In all the essays, with the exception of those related to Romania, there is not a convincing argument made by the authors for the existence of an inherent right wing, nationalistic, urban political movement before the rise of German fascism in Eastern Europe. The case seems to be that most nations followed the German fascist model out of a sense of political expediency that was simply opportunistic or a necessity of the coming total war.

Nonetheless, this collection of essays does have many benefits. (more…)

Did the Professor plan this?

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

Did the Professor know that as I walked into class on the very first day that I brought with me a very broad and might I say naïve, global view of nationalism? Were the last two week’s reading intended to shake this view and make me think of nationalism in a way that I hadn’t before? As Brubaker has said, “The search for ‘a’ or ‘the’ theory of nationalism…is misguided; for the theoretical problems associated with nationhood and nationalism, like the practical political problems, are multiform and varied, and not susceptible of resolution through a single theoretical (or practical) approach.”

Okay, okay. I’m the first to admit that last week I just didn’t get “it”. Read my review of Healy’s book Vienna and the Fall of the Habsburg Empire and it’s painfully obvious that I didn’t get “it”. Until our class discussion last week, I was expecting the single theoretical explanation for the fall of the Habsburg Empire that has influenced the Balkans (my beloved interest) in recent history. When Healy didn’t provide it–instead opting for (what I considered at the time) a peripheral narrative of a grand propaganda campaign, women, their politicization, and the gender roles in Vienna during the First World War–I was openly disappointed. My disappointed was a result of my expectations after reading Cohen’s article. Misguided best describes my interpretation of Cohen’s “Neither Absolutism nor Anarchy” article. I believed he was challenging historians to find proof that the Habsburg Empire indeed comprised popular social action and political activities which may have sustained change and responded to Austrian popular opinion in the early years of the 20th century–a “modern constitutional, representative government” instead of the lethargic, ineffectual, and collapsing monarchy that most historians postulate. (more…)

Lithuania catch your interest?

Friday, September 21st, 2007

Change to the Wilson Center Program:

The Perception of the Holocaust and Soviet Crimes: Public Challenges and Experience in Lithuania

Now:  Wednesday, September 26, 2007 from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm, in the 6th Floor Auditorium

 For directions, check out

New Narrative? Vienna and the Fall of the Habsburg Empire

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

Gary B. Cohen’s call to action in “Neither Absolutism nor Anarchy: New Narratives on Society and Government in Late Imperial Austria” should have been responded to by historians seeking to describe popular social action and political activities which may have sustained change and responded to Austrian popular opinion in the early years of the 20th century.   Does Maureen Healy postulate a “modern constitutional, representative government” in her book Vienna and the Fall of the Habsburg Empire that may have bolstered the imperial government had it survived?  Simply, no.  (more…)

Library of Congress Orientation and Tour

Friday, September 14th, 2007

A guided tour for researchers at the Library of Congress is available through GMU libraries Nov.1 and Nov. 2:

Click “Help with Research”

Click “Library Workshops & Classes”

Students must register through