Ongoing projects

Breaching the walls. We do need education! Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency, Lenka Krátká, 20192021

The fall of the Berlin Wall is one of the most important and significant event in Twentieth-Century Europe. Above all, it is the symbol of the re-appropriation of individual rights and freedoms by the former Soviet bloc citizens who were struggling to get more democracy in their own countries. Based on an entangled perspective and an oral history approach, the project aims, on the one hand, to investigate personal and national-based memories of the fall of the Berlin wall and of the democratic claims in the former Eastern bloc countries. On the other one, the project aims to actively involve young generations in a critical and pro-active reflection about the modern basis of European societies that can help them to better understand today’s European political dynamics and to face new barriers that are increasingly crossing the field of social and civil rights. Approaching the multifaceted relationship between memory, European values and today’s European challenges, participants will be more aware of the importance of collecting memories and transmitting them to new generations, more conscious of the founding principles of modern European citizenship (representative democracy, civil rights, welfare state, peace) and more open to international and intercultural exchanges. Project is solved by Fondazione Gramsci Emilia-Romana Onlus (Bologna, Italy) in cooperation with Municipality of Tirana (Tirana, Albania), Past/Not Past Paris (Paris, France), The History Meeting House (Warsaw, Poland) and University of Bielefeld (Bielefeld, Germany). More information…

Genocide, Postwar Migration and Social Mobility: Entangled Experiences of Roma and Jews. GA ČR EXPRO 19-26638X, Kateřina Čapková, 2019–2023

Engaging with debates in Holocaust and genocide studies and social anthropology of marginality, the project approaches the histories of Jewish and Romani communities on the territory of the pre-war Czechoslovakia in comparative perspective. Nazi genocidal policies altered the culture, social makeup, religious outlook, and geography of both victim groups, creating a rupture that fundamentally influenced the subsequent geographic and social mobility of both groups. Only an interdisciplinary approach—bringing together sociology, anthropology and history—can help us create an integrated account of Romani and Jewish experiences in twentieth and twenty-first century Central Europe. A team of multidisciplinary scholars with expertise in Jewish and Romani studies will focus on Jewish and Romani entangled experiences during the war, its aftermath and its current resonances.

Business trips abroad from Czechoslovakia in the years 1945–1989. GA ČR 19-09594S, Lenka Krátká, 2019–2021

The project proposal corresponds with the growing interest in exploring social and cultural aspects of life in the era of former communist regimes in Central and Eastern Europe. From this broad framework the project aims at the topic of business trips made from the former Czechoslovakia abroad. The historical research with interdisciplinary overlaps will contribute to extension of the exploration on the character of the Czech and Czechoslovak society in the period after World War II. The project outcomes will deepen understanding of the business trips topic, including its integration into the contemporary framework of political, economic, social and cultural history. The research results will also be confronted with relevant foreign works and reflected in an international context. Besides primary research (especially archival exploration and oral history interviews) and publication outputs – two monographs, scholarly studies – the attention will be paid to methodological and theoretical issues and problems of research and popularization-teaching activities.

Between Stalinism and Global Infrastructuralism: Impact of Global Cold War Science on Czechoslovak Science and International Policy (1945-1989) GA ČR 19-04546S, Doubravka Olšáková, 2019–2021

The aim of the project is to analyse the impact of global research projects and large infrastructures on the evolution of science and international policy in Czechoslovakia, including their shaping of expert culture before 1989. Large research infrastructures and access to data and information had been very often object of diplomatic talks; Cold War period is probably the best example to study the social impact of science and how much it shaped the democratization process in Communist/totalitarian states. We will analyse the International Geophysical Year (1957-58), the International Biological Programme (1964-74), the International Hydrological Decade (1964-74) and following long-term programmes Man and Biosphere (1975 until now) and International Hydrological Programme (1975-2021). Research questions focus on the access to data, scientific knowledge and methods. How much they influenced the evolution of science and international policy and how much it influenced the shaping of independent expert cultures?

Army as an instrument of socialization: Reflection of the phenomenon of compulsury military service in the Czech lands (1968-2004). GA ČR 19-19311S, Jiří Hlaváček, 2019–2021

The project focuses at the phenomena of compulsory military service within Czech lands between 1968-2004. The research hypothesis is based on premise that the institute of compulsory military service represents one of key instruments for those in power to discipline and indoctrinate citizens in order to uphold the status quo. Therefore, the primary research will concentrate on discursive transformations of legitimization and narrative strategies, which were applied in this manner and also their impact at several generations of Czech men, including the wider sociocultural meaning of compulsory military service. The project is grounded theoretically in Lynn cultural model of military history and also makes use of research methods of traditional military historiography, historical anthropology and ethnology.

Evolutionalism, Nationalism and Racism in Czech and Slovak Science (1882-1948). A Dialogue between Social Science and Biology. GA ČR 19-03474S, Milan Ducháček, 2019–2021

The project will focus on the mapping of interdisciplinary cooperation, communication networks and public response of Czech and Czechoslovak cultural and biological science, with an emphasis on the situation in physical anthropology, ethnology and history during the years 1882- 1948. The Czechoslovak science can prove itself with one neglected primacy: the first European protest against scientifically asserted racism. In 1934, with the support of Czech- American Anthropologist Aleš Hrdlička´s Foundation, the book The Equality of European Human Races and the Ways to Their Betterment was published, with contribution by physical anthropologists, ethnologists, archaeologists and literary historians. The aim of the interdisciplinary research team will be to interconnect the up to now prevalently isolated mapping of the history of natural and cultural disciplines and to put the transformation of the aformentioned disciplines into mutual and broader context on the basis of the current methodology of the history of science. The result will appear in a series of studies and in two monographs.

Movable boundaries of dictatorship in the light of complaints and anonymous letters of Czechoslovak citizens between 1948 and 1989. GA ČR 19-02794S, Tomáš Vilímek, 2019–2021

The project is focused on examining, analysing and interpreting a specific segment of communication and interaction between the society and the regime from 1948 to 1989, namely tens of thousands of complaints, requests and denunciations of citizens addressed to state, party, trade union or other structures of the regime. Their content and forms, as well as reactions of power structures were changing and depended on political developments both at home and abroad. Using them, it is possible not only to reconstruct and understand the changing boundaries and forms of the space where the specific interactions between the regime and citizens were taking place, but also to shed light on forms and possibilities of promoting individual and collective interests and needs. They can be used to explain how citizens were perceiving and what they were expecting from the regime and to monitor the regime´s reactions ranging from the absolute usurpation of power enforced by repressions to having to take into account authentic social interests and to adopt its strategy accordingly.

Hydrosocialism: Water, environment and the socialist rule in Czechoslovakia (2018–2020, Czech Science Foundation)

Water is a limited and irreplaceable natural resource essential for human existence on a biological level as well as for economical development and sustainable environment. The proposed project studying water management policy will thus enable to re-interpret the relations between society, environment and the state, or more precisely the state socialist system, in the context of arrival, transformation and the stabilization of technocratic socialism and its updated version of socialsit modernization; this will be done using an interdisciplinary approach involving environmental history, modern history and history of science and technology. In order to identify the inner mechanisms of socialist water management system, official water use policy will be analyzed on an international and national level (Comecon, government, planning technocracy, science organization) as well as on an example: a local study of the last realized constructioof a large dam under socialism (Nové mlýny dam,1947-1992). The project draws on the concept of hydrosocial configuration.

Former German soldiers in the Czechoslovak Army during World War II as an example of marginalization in the process of forming historical memory (2018–2020, Czech Science Foundation)

The project model will comprise Czechoslovak citizens who were conscripted to serve in German armed forces and who, subsequently, joined the Czechoslovak Army-in-exile. The material base of the project will explore the conditions of their acceptance to the Czechoslovak Army, document their numbers and assess their significance. The subject of the research will be the perception of these people, changes of this perception during the war and postwar years by fellow combatants, state and military authorities and people around them, and their own self-perception and self-presentation. Most importantly, the project will examine how their participation in resistance-in-exile was marginalized in the formation of the resistance picture in the collective memory. Collaboration with experts abroad, which will provide us with a comparison within an international context, will be of fundamental importance.

„Parliaments in Transition“: Applying the Czech Innovation in the European Parliamentary History Research (2017-2019, Ministry of Education)

The Czech Institute of Contemporary History is a member of the, a cluster of European research institutions and experts in parliamentary history. The Institute’s working group on Parliaments in Transition, focusing on Czechoslovak and Czech legislatures in periods such as 1989–1992, 1945–1950 and 1968, has accessed the European research in parliamentary history. This project will make it possible to invest resources into leadership, take over a part of coordination tasks and make the parliamentary cultures in transforming political regimes one of the principal subjects of European parliamentary history research. More…

Czech Society and Soviet Army 1968–1991 (2017–2019, Czech Science Foundation)

The project will focus on the presence of the Soviet Army in Czechoslovakia between 1968 and 1991 and its impacts on the Czech society, particularly in places where Soviet Army units were stationed. It will examine various forms of contacts between the Czech population and Soviet soldiers at the municipal, institutional and personal levels, problems accompanying their mutual coexistence, and the practical implementation of the state policy of friendship a part of which was also an official transformation of the image of the Soviet Army from an occupying force into a friend. It will concentrate on the general politicization of the mutual coexistence and the roles of various socio-political organizations, security elements and also local and nationwide media in it. First and foremost, the project aims to capture social and political aspects in the broadest sense of the word (rather than military and strategic ones) of the presence of the Soviet Army in Czechoslovakia and to set the topic in the context of the social history of the Czech normalization.

The Student Generation of 1989 in Longitudinal Perspective: Biographical Interviews after Twenty Years (2017–2019, Czech Science Foundation)

The project constitutes a continuation and broadening of the project Students at the time of the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia – biographical interviews (1999). For the first time in the history of similar longitudinal oral history projects, we are able to build on previously recorded interviews. Tracking changes in testimonies of student leaders of November 1989 will enable to capture changes in the subjective perception of historical events and wider shifts in public discourse about the past. The interviews will offer a window on broader shifts in social norms and memory politics. Thus the project will bring an essential knowledge on the issues of changes in memory processes in a particular group of narrators. The project’s outputs are designed to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the ‘Velvet Revolution’ of 1989. They will thus constitute a major contribution to understandings of the memory of this pivotal date in contemporary Czech history and bring the first large-scale analysis of subjective perceptions of the post-socialist era.

Science and Research in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, 1939–1945. Conception and Impact of the Nazi Science Policy (2017–2019, Czech Science Foundation)

The project aims to analyze the Nazi science policy in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia in 1939–1945. It focuses primarily on conceptual measures and impact in personal and (infra)structural areas. Firstly, it will analyze the Nazi personal policy and various types of repression/persecution against the local scientific community. This analysis will be based on a quantitative/prosopographical evaluation of the changes in the personal structure (incl. emigration/exile). Secondly, it will cover the conceptual and administrative framework, which was necessary for the interventions of long-term impact, e.g. conversion towards the applied (mostly military) research and close connection with industry. The effectiveness of implemented organizational changes and principal conceptualized efforts reacting to German interventions, both domestic (resistance) and foreign (exile), will be discussed as well.

Sphaera mundi. Reception of the medieval treatise on sphere by Iohannes de Sacrobosco in the Czech lands (2017–2019, Czech Science Foundation)

In the framework of the project important Latin texts, which influenced European astronomy and learning during the whole Middle Ages, will be studied. One of examples is the treatise De sphaera by Iohannes de Sacrobosco (1220), which was the basic textbook on spherical astronomy in European education up to the 17th century. The project will be focused mainly on the reception of this work and commentaries, which originated in the Czech lands especially in the 15th century (Martinus de Lancicia, 1430, Wenceslas Faber of Budweis, 1495). Commented editions and translations of these texts will be prepared during the grant project.

Virtual assistent for access to historical audiovisual data (2016–2019, Ministry of Culture)

The proposed VIADAT project aims to create methods and associated software tools for documentation and presentation of nation’s cultural memory as it is (and will be) recorded in audiovisual documents. The project thus belongs primarily to the area of Oral History. The open software tools created will however serve much broader spectrum of uses of spoken and audiovisual material – from research to education. State-of-the-art technology of preservation, local and remote access will be used for depositing, indexing, annotating and accessing the recordings, and additional tools will be created to support end-users’ research needs. The core of the technologies used will come from the language technology domain, both for automatic speech recognition and the follow-up text analysis and indexing, since the value of the recordings of various witnesses of historic events is primarily in their language content – in what has been said. The user tools will allow for both quantitative and qualitative processing of the extracted material, for producing tables, extracts, segments of video and audiomaterial etc. to support presentation of scientific findings, including their visualization. These outputs will not only serve research and its dissemination, but will be used in educational materials for all types of schools.
These goals will be materialized by creating an integrated software platform, a “Virtual assistant” for processing, annotation, enrichment and access to audio and videorecordings. Most of the software components will be language-independent, allowing also international use. The Virtual assistant will have four parts: a repository for long-term preservation of the enriched recordings and associated metadata and documents, access system, deposition software and software for annotation and exploitation of the recordings. More…

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