Making Sense of the Secular – Critical Perspectives from Europe to Asia Monday, Oct 1 2012 

Prof. Ranjan Ghosh edited a volume on secularism in Europe and Asia, which was published with Routledge in October 2012 as part of the Routledge Studies in Religion. Together with D. Vancea (Ovidius University, Constanta), I contributed a chapter on Eastern Europe. The book is available on the Routledge site (

“This book offers a wide range of critical perspectives on how secularism unfolds and has been made sense of across Europe and Asia. The book evaluates secularism as it exists today – its formations and discontents within contemporary discourses of power, terror, religion and cosmopolitanism – and the focus on these two continents gives critical attention to recent political and cultural developments where secularism and multiculturalism have impinged in deeply problematical ways, raising bristling ideological debates within the functioning of modern state bureaucracies.

Examining issues as controversial as the state of Islam in Europe and China’s encounters with religion, secularism, and modernization provides incisive and broader perspectives on how we negotiate secularism within the contemporary threats of terrorism and other forms of fundamentalism and state-politics. However, amidst the discussions of various versions of secularism in different countries and cultural contexts, this book also raises several other issues relevant to the antitheocratic and theocratic alike, such as: Is secularism is merely a nonreligious establishment? Is secularism a kind of cultural war? How is it related to “terror”? The book at once makes sense of secularism across cultural, religious, and national borders and puts several relevant issues on the anvil for further investigations and understanding.”


Havighurst Center for Russian & Post-Soviet Studies
12th Annual International Young Researchers Conference


Organizer: Scott M. Kenworthy
Miami University
Oxford, OH

February 14-17, 2013

Before the collapse of communism, religion in Russia and Eastern Europe was rarely a topic of scholarly research. The prevalence of the secularization thesis in the West, combined with the dominance of militantly atheist regimes in the East, led scholars to assume that religion no longer mattered in the region. Moreover, long held stereotypes about the Orthodox Church contributed to the dismissal of Orthodoxy’s importance as a factor in Russian or East European history; only a few pioneers in the field challenged this tendency. Since the collapse of communism, however, religion has reasserted itself in the public sphere in the former communist bloc as in many other parts of the world. There has been a renewed appreciation of Orthodoxy’s significance in the history of the region, as well as growing interest among political scientists and anthropologists who study Russia and Eastern Europe.

This conference seeks to tap into a new wave of research on Orthodoxy in Russia and Eastern Europe. It is intended to be interdisciplinary, so we invite papers from a number of disciplinary perspectives: historical, anthropological, sociological, intellectual, literary, and/or political science. We also seek to cut across geographical lines, so papers can be concerned with the Russian Empire/Soviet Union and its successor states as well as Eastern Europe (former Habsburg and Ottoman empires, Romania, Bulgaria, and the former Yugoslavia). We invite papers that tap into the transnational dimensions of Orthodoxy—ties between Russia or Eastern Europe and the new world, for example, or Orthodox missions outside traditional territories. We also invite papers that explore the relationship of Orthodoxy to other religious traditions in the region.

We encourage proposals from young researchers who have already completed their dissertation research (ABD) or have defended their dissertation within the last three years. This will be an intensive 2-1/2 day working conference (February 14-17, 2013) during which each of the selected papers will be critiqued by the other participants, including all invited presenters, keynote speakers, and a team of discussants made up of Miami University faculty. Papers will be circulated in advance, and participants are expected to be prepared to discuss other participants’ papers. The conference will include two keynote speakers: Dr. Lucian Turcescu (Concordia University, Montreal) and Dr. Gregory Freeze (Brandeis University).

The Havighurst Center will provide accommodation in Oxford, ground transportation to and from the airport, and partial travel funding ($300 for domestic travel and $800 for international travel).

To be considered for the conference, submit an abstract of approximately 250 words and a short CV by October 1, 2012. Please type “2013 Young Researchers Conference” as the subject of the email. Selected papers will be announced by November 1, 2012. If selected, participants must submit completed papers for circulation to other conference participants by January 15, 2013.

Questions can be directed to:

The Havighurst Center for Russian & Post-Soviet Studies
Miami University
Harrison Hall, Room 116
Oxford, OH 45056
(513) 529-3303

After Oppression: Transitional Justice in Latin America and Eastern Europe (UNU Press) Sunday, May 13 2012 

Prof. Vesselin Popovski at the United Nations University in Tokyo, Japan, the academic arm of the United Nations, has initiated and brought to completion a large project comparing transitional justice experiences in Eastern Europe and Latin America. This project, conducted with the assistance of the United Nations University, Oxford University, and El Colegio Mexico, has resulted in a conference organized at Oxford University and a volume that will be published with UNU Press. A description of the project, which included a contribution on Romania that I signed, is available here.

“The gross violations of human rights in Latin America and Eastern Europe under authoritarian regimes created growing popular anger that finally exploded in mass revolts and demands for change, bringing the regimes to an end. It was a bottom-up process: a gradually rising discontent of ordinary people, who in the aftermath of the changes, made continuous calls for justice and accountability for the perpetrators of human rights violations, and simultaneous calls for compensation for the victims of these violations. The demands for justice and compensation faced initial reluctance, partly because political forces connected to previous regimes remained powerful and influential.

The processes of transitional justice have been controversial and complex, zigzagging from extreme demands for severe punishment to similarly unacceptable calls for blanket unqualified forgiveness. Transitional justice has had to perform a balancing act: paying full respect to grievances — traumatic, deeply emotional and divisive — while also taking into consideration strategies for societal reconciliation and future stability.”

Life in Post-Communist Eastern Europe after EU Membership, a new book at Routledge Tuesday, May 1 2012 

Sabina Stan, Vera Sheridan and Donnacha O Beachain have edited a fine volume on the effects of EU membership in the new post-communist member states. The book will be published this month with Routledge, and the cover was already designed. For this volume, I have co-authored the chapter on Romania together with Dr. Rodica Zaharia from the Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest.


Central and Southeast European Politics since 1989 Monday, Mar 1 2010 

Cambridge University Press has recently published Central and Southeast European Politics since 1989, a volume which is edited by Sabrina P. Ramet and includes contributions by some of the most recognizable names in the field. An important survey of politics in Eastern European countries after the collapse of the communist regime, the volume is divided in two main sections: some chapters discuss different themes, while others examine different post-communist countries. In their introductory chapter, Sabrina P. Ramet and F. Peter Wagner propose post-communist “models of rule” as a general framework for understanding the themes and countries discussed in the volume. Chapters 3-6 and 22-24 discuss themes key for Central and Eastern Europe: the emergence of the nation-state, the post-communist party systems, the post-1989 economic reforms, and the Yugoslav secession wars, as well as regional security, the EU enlargement, and lessons and difficulties in the near future. The remainder of the volume includes chapters devoted to countries like Poland, the Czeck and Slovak Republics, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Kosovo, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, the Baltic states, and Moldova. Its breadth and depth recommend this volume as a textbook appropriate for classes on East European Politics. The timelines, biographical sketches, further recommended readings make chapters accessible to a wider audience.

This is how the CUP introduces the book: “The only textbook to provide a complete introduction to post-1989 Central and Eastern European politics, this dynamic volume provides a comprehensive account of the collapse of communism and the massive transformation that the region has witnessed. It brings together 23 leading specialists to trace the course of the dramatic changes accompanying democratization. The text provides country-by-country coverage, identifying common themes and enabling students to see which are shared throughout the area, giving them a sense of its unity and comparability whilst strengthening understanding around its many different trajectories. The dual thematic focus on democratisation and Europeanisation running through the text also helps to reinforce this learning process. Each chapter contains a factual overview to give the reader context concerning a region which they may have never previously studied, but are sure to find fascinating.”


Part I. Introduction:
1. Introduction Sabrina P. Ramet;
2. Post-socialist models of rule in Central and Southeastern Europe Sabrina P. Ramet and F. Peter Wagner;

Part II. Issues:
3. The emergence of the nation-state in East-Central Europe and the Balkans in historical perspective Reneo Lukic;
4. Central and East European party systems since 1989 Elisabeth Bakke;
5. Economic reforms and the illusion of transition Karl Kaser;
6. The war of Yugoslav succession Marko Attila Hoare; Part III. Central Europe:
7. Poland since 1989: muddling through, wall to wall Konstanty Gebert;
8. Building democratic values in the Czech Republic since 1989 Carol Skalnik Leff;
9. Slovakia since 1989 Erika Harris;
10. Hungary since 1989 András Bozóki and Eszter Simon;

Part IV. Yugoslav Successor States:
11. Slovenia since 1989 Danica Fink-Hafner;
12. Politics in Croatia since 1990 Sabrina P. Ramet;
13. Serbia and Montenegro since 1989 Sabrina P. Ramet;
14. Bosnia and Herzegovina since 1990 Florian Bieber;
15. Macedonia since 1989 Zachary T. Irwin;
16. Kosova: resisting expulsion and striving for independence Frances Trix;

Part V. Southeastern Europe:
17. Romania: in the shadow of the past Lavinia Stan;
18. Bulgaria since 1989 Maria Spirova;
19. Albania since 1989: the Hoxhaist legacy Bernd Jürgen Fischer;

Part VI. Former Soviet Republics:
20. The Baltic states Hermann Smith-Sivertsen;
21. Moldova since 1989 Steven D. Roper;

Part VII. Present and Future Challenges:
22. Regional security and regional relations Rick Fawn;
23. The EU and democratization in Central and Southeastern Europe since 1989 Ulrich Sedelmeier;
24. Facing the twenty-first century: lessons, questions, and tendencies (a conclusion) Aurel Braun.

Sabrina P. Ramet, ed., Central and Southeast European Politics since 1989 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).