Ongoing projects

HistoryLab: a workshop for archive and school (Czech Academy of Sciences, Programme for Application Development and Commercialization, Martin Štefek, 2024)

The project develops the application potential of the open source application and method HistoryLab, developed to support innovative methods of teaching history based on working with historical sources. It has three parts – a survey of the educational market and the impact of using the application, the preparation of a manual for the criterion assessment of student performance, and the conclusion of a contract between the department and an archival institution, on the basis of which programs for archival education will be developed, including guidelines for the preparation of exercises in cooperation with an external entity. The aim of all activities is to increase the applicability of the HistoryLab tool and method for education. The application of HistoryLab is to support research-oriented teaching based on working with historical sources in history and other humanities subjects in primary, secondary, and higher education. It focuses mainly on the 20th century. It offers teachers and pupils a safe environment, proven in practice, in which they can work creatively and not be afraid to make mistakes. As a result, they learn the skills and principles of historical thinking in a playful way, thereby developing their historical literacy. More…

Deindustrialisation and the new economic order. The regional economy and the Zlín shoe industry between central planning and the market economy (The Czech Science Foundation, Vítězslav Sommer, 2024–2026)

The project examines the economic transformation of the Zlín industry and the associated regional economy in the 1980s and 1990s, as the centrally planned economy gradually declined and the market system was established. The core of the research is a multi-level analysis of the deindustrialization of the shoe industry in Zlín, which had long been the backbone of the regional economy and one of the most important export industries. The project examines deindustrialization at three complementary levels (global, national and regional) and in three key contexts: (1) the global development of the footwear industry, (2) the economic transformation of Czechoslovakia, (3) the transformation of the economy of a particular region. The research team focuses on the structural context of the changes, the actors involved and, in particular, the degree of institutional and personal continuity in the economic sphere. The project emphasizes a broader explanatory framework and focuses on the neglected regional and sectoral dimensions. The aim is to present a new perspective on economic transformation and to show how the contemporary Czech economy has been shaped. More information…

The Role of Central Europe in Ending the Cold War and Shaping the Post-Cold War International Order (The Czech Science Foundation, Matěj Bílý, 2024–2026)

The project examines the role of the three countries of Central Europe – Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland – in ending the Cold War and the subsequent first phase of the post-Cold War international order shaping. Based on the most recent accessible primary sources, it analyses the adaptation strategies of these states and their actors during the key changes between 1988 and 1991, particularly those associated with the transformation of international political, security, and economic structures at the time. The main questions are to what extent the post-Cold War international order – whose echoes still influence the contemporary world – had begun to form before 1989 due to deep structural causes and how much of a role Central Europe as a region played in the expansion of Western, notably American, political, economic, security and cultural influence after the Cold War’s end. The aim is to bring a new empirically based perspective to the current debate on the causes of the emergence of a unipolar world, reflecting mostly the policy of two former Cold War superpowers so far. More information…

Grey Zones of the Occupation. Czechoslovaks in German Uniform and Norwegian Society in WW II (EEA and Norwegian Grants, project leader: Zdenko Maršálek, 2023–2024)

The narrative of the Second World War in most European countries has long been dominated by simplistic schemes of the all-national resistance and a clear dichotomy between resistance and collaboration. In recent years, this deeply entrenched narrative has also been challenged by historians in Norway. One important area here is research into the full range of society’s relationship to the occupying power, including not only willing collaboration and, conversely, active armed resistance, but also varying degrees of necessary accommodation, the search for basic everyday coexistence, acceptance of actual conditions, or the use of economic profit. The short project, conducted in cooperation with historians from the Department of Modern Social History at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim (NTNU), is primarily intended to contribute to the exchange of knowledge on a topic that is also topical in the Czech Republic, to incorporate a Czech perspective into the Norwegian historiography of the Second World War and to deepen mutual cooperation between Czech and (not only) Norwegian historians. The project highlights the fact that thousands of soldiers, conscripted in occupied European countries, served in the German army in Norway, including many citizens of interwar Czechoslovakia. The research question is whether the Norwegian population was able to distinguish and perceive these differences, whether they made contacts and how they possibly got along with those soldiers who served in the German uniform only unwillingly. However, the project is primarily future-oriented. The aim is to define and formulate the research questions and to create a team to further address them.

Legacy of traditions and cultural pluralism in the life of majority society, national and ethnic minorities in Karlovarsko (Czech Academy of Sciences, project of regional cooperation, Petr Bednařík, 2023–2025)

The project focuses on basic research on post-war population migrations, their characteristics, settlement and re-settlement, including an evaluation of the significance of the inclusion of Karlovarsko among the preferred border regions, the creation of settlement entities, their adaptation and integration into the new majority society, in which cultural dialogue was manifested. The project will focus on capturing the contemporary history of Karlovy Vary and the narrower region (the area of the municipality of Karlovy Vary with extended scope) in the years 1945-2025 with an emphasis on historical development and the current position – of national / ethnic minorities and foreigners as important parts of the local society, which in recent years has been shaping and participating in the life of the region for decades. The research aims to find out and document how a new majority society was created in this predominantly newly settled region and how ethnic minorities established themselves in this environment in the post-war period. It will process the new cultural traditions of the majority and minorities. The research focuses on two areas: 1) maps the issue of cultural pluralism and dialogue between the local ethnicities and describes the role and influence of the ruling political systems in Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic on the creation of national and minority politics, 2) describes and presents with concrete examples the current significance of the newly created regional traditions, in which today’s Karlovarska society participates, made up of a nationally diverse and multiculturally rich composition of the population, in which, in addition to the descendants of the original non-displaced Germans and Czech old settlers, the majority of residents are mainly residents of several generations recruited from post-war settlers and settlers.

Politics of memory and democratization: Czech Republic and Germany (OP JAK/MSCA Fellowships, Klára Pinerová, 2023–2024)

The aim of the research project is to analyze the history of organizations of political prisoners in the Czech Republic and Germany in the years 1989-2019. The achievement of a consensus about the past, which is one of the six criteria is one of the six criteria for the consolidation of new democracies. The project focuses on the analysis of the polarized view of the past on the example of the activity of interest groups of political prisoners and their descendants as important actors of public history after 1989. These organizations appeared on the political scene as distinctive and powerful memory groups and managed to achieve some of their main goals very soon after the revolutionary year of 1989. However, their activities not only helped society cope with a difficult past, but also divided society with their radical views on communism. The project aims to explore these organizations as participants in public life and the formation and maintenance of collective memory, as well as how these associations sought to emphasize and use or promote their collective memory and interpretation of history in the political process and contribute to the democratization of society. Funded by the European Union. More information…

The progressive against the conservative? Political decision-making and its actors in Czechoslovakia (1960–1976) (The Czech Science Foundation, Oldřich Tůma, 2023–2025)

The purpose and objective of the project is to analyze the functioning of the political system in Czechoslovakia during the period of a major crisis of the Communist regime between 1967 and 1970, but with significant overlaps into the prehistory and posthistory of the Prague Spring. The project will be based on a deconstruction of existing interpretation schemes and the language of the narrative, a prosopographical and actors-oriented reconstruction, and the construction of a model showing how the system was working. The project will examine the formation of the language of political and media discourse and the use of the progressive/conservative dichotomy, particularly with respect to the communication of reform programmes and problems of identification with the regime ́s policy in the past. It will focus on political actors and their backgrounds, careers, attitudes, practices, interests, disputes, interactions and networking, aiming to clarify the modus operandi of the regime ́s power centers and the political decision-making and political mechanics at different levels of the system. More information…

Serving the homeland as a source of national identity. Identification, documentation and presentation of historical sources for the institute of compulsory military service in the Czech lands (1868–2004) (NAKI III DH23P03OVV054, Jiří Hlaváček, 3/2023–12/2027)

The aim of the project, which combines basic and applied research in the social sciences and humanities, is to identify, document and present various types of historical sources on the history of the institute of compulsory military service in the Czech lands in the years 1868–2004. The main objective is to create a specialized professional and publicly accessible electronic information database that offers a detailed chronology of compulsory military service in the context of contemporary political, social and cultural frameworks, a unique glossary (including army language), bibliographies and links to other existing resources, and based on a specialized thesaurus and metadata across thematic categories and sources of an interdisciplinary nature (including audiovisual) with the possibility of comparing the results on the interactive timeline of 1868–2004, using permanent references to digitized document collections stored in Czech and foreign memory institutions. It will also include a general typology of historical sources on the issue, including an overview of their identifying features, access options and recommended critical procedures for working with them. More information…

Technocratic Environmentalism across the Iron Curtain: Czechoslovak experts in the UNECE (1950s-1980s) (The Czech Science Foundation, Jiří Janáč, 2023–2025)

International bureaucracies operating at the global level play an important role in assessing and mitigating the human pressure on the environment and in the climate change debate. Apolitical, transnational expertise seems to hold the key to the problem, describing it as a purely technical issue. But before becoming global, this technocratic environmentalism emerged on a European level. Since early 1950s, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe worked on a pan- European response to the ecological crisis, uniting experts from various fields and both sides of the Iron Curtain. They attempted to harmonise economic development and environmental protection. This project focuses on the role of experts from socialist Czechoslovakia in the formation of this pan-European response in the committees of UNECE in 1960s–1980s and argues that they were the link between emerging global environmentalism and state-socialist technocratic environmentalism. Sharing the ideology of technocratic internationalism, they helped design environmental agenda and expertise both home and abroad. More information…

Czechoslovak Diplomacy and the Arab-Israeli Conflict from 1948–1989 (The Czech Science Foundation, Eva Taterová, 2023–2025)

The grant project aims to analyze the approach of Czechoslovak diplomacy to the main actors of the Arab-Israeli conflict (Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestinian nationalization movements and Syria) from 1948-1989 based on the historiographical and methodological premises of the New Cold War history. The research will be conducted in the relevant archives in the Czech Republic, Israel, Great Britain, and the USA, and it is designed to develop the previous research activities of Eva Taterova, the principal investigator, focused especially on Czechoslovak-Israeli Cold War relations. The intended research shall firstly reconstruct the diplomatic relations of Czechoslovakia to the main Arab actors of the conflict and then make a case study examining the position of Czechoslovakia as a satellite state of the Soviet Union analyzing the activities in the Middle East not only through the perspective of East-West rivalries but also in terms of North-South global relations. More information…

From Student Internationalism to Erasmus: Globalization and Europeanization of Student Life since 1945 (GAČR-SNF, Mikuláš Pešta, 2023–2025)

The project concerns with students’ political and social life in post-war Europe. It will focus on student organizations as platforms that channelled the student agentivity. The Swiss-Czech team examines international student federations on both sides of the ‘Iron Curtain’ as well as national student unions in both countries. While the operation of these organizations was certainly affected by the Cold War ideological clashes, this project studies also their interactions, cooperation and exchange, shared imagery, trans-bloc transfers of knowledge, and creation of a European academic space, questioning the impermeability of the ‘Iron Curtain’. The student organizations are viewed as transnational spaces, centres of knowledge production. The international unions were hubs where students met and influenced each other. These interactions formed career and life trajectories of several generations of student leaders. The project pays particular attention to the importance of students from the Global South who were bringing fresh perspectives beyond the East-West divide. More information…

The Research Group for Historical Transformation Studies (Lumina quaeruntur, Veronika Pehe, 2022–2027)

As part of the project „Postsocialist Transformation as Historical Process and Social Experience“, The Research Group for Historical Transformation Studies will develop a research agenda for the study of the history of postsocialist transformations in the Czech Republic/Czechoslovakia in a broader transnational context. Its innovation lies in approaching economic and political phenomena from a cultural and social historical perspective. The group’s research will focus on three interconnected areas of transformation: 1) mental worlds; 2) worlds of work; 3) urban/rural environments. It will ask how the ideological aims of the transformation project were articulated, lived, and squared with everyday experience by different social groups. Analysing transformation processes at the nexus of the categories of gender, class, and space, the project will take a bottom-up approach that has so far only partially been applied to the history of the post-1989. transformations. More information…

Minutes between life and death: Changes in emergency medical service and the professional identity of its employees in the Czech lands 1952–2003 (The Czech Science Foundation, Jiří Hlaváček, 2023–2025)

The project focuses on the analysis and identification of processes in the development of emergency medical service (EMS) and the professional identity of its employees in the Czech lands from 1952, when professional pre-hospital emergency care was taken over by the state, to 2003 when EMS transformed into regional contributory organizations. The aim is to describe EMS institutionalization, professionalization and modernization by comparing the official discourse (legislation and departmental documents) and actors’ perspectives (witnesses’ reflections) through regional micro-historical surveys. Interdisciplinary research combines history of medical science, contemporary history, memory and identity studies. The data will be collected and processed using the methods of classical historiography (archival research), historical anthropology (discursive, narrative and symbolic analysis) and social anthropology (qualitatively focused narrative and semi-structured interviews). More information…

Science and Emotions: Rethinking Environmental Movements under Communism in Czechoslovakia in the 1970s and 1980s (The Czech Science Foundation, Doubravka Olšáková, 2022–2024)

Economic crisis, crisis of ideological legitimacy and/or growing nationalistic views are considered by the historiography of transition as driving forces heading the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. As a follow-up to the growing influence of opposition movement Charter 77, specific social groups became “producers rather than consumers of social situations” in the 1970s and 1980s. Opposition actions turned from declarations and publications of documents to social actions.The suggested project will focus on environmental movements and the conflict potential based on the ´praxeology of truth´, moral authority of scientists and researchers in society as well as on the existence of specific „emotional communities“ which were at the core of both movements. Suggested outcomes include three manuscripts, an analytical one, an edited volume resulting from an international workshop and an edited volume of oral history interviews, and two academic papers. More information…

In search of the Postmodern City. Transformation of Prague and Bratislava between 1970 and 2000 (Ideas-Policies-Construction) (The Czech Science Foundation, Matěj Spurný, 2022–2024)

The project aims to clarify the historical roots of the current problems of the post-socialist city, taking as an example the development of Prague and Bratislava in the long process of change from the early 1970s to the end of the 20th century. More general research questions concern not only the issue of the disintegration of state socialism and the arrival of post-socialism in both successor states of the former Czechoslovakia, but also the issue of the retreat of modernist planning and the growing influence of post-modernist approaches. Research will focus on the relation between experts’ knowledge of the urban environment and the practice of transforming it, that is, between negotiation and implementation, mainly with regard to transport infrastructure and housing construction. The research team with its interdisciplinary background will, besides the exchange of knowledge with the international scholarly community, conduct broad-based primary research of professional journals of the researched period and sources stored in the Prague and Bratislava archives. More information…

The History of Charter 77 in Domestic Context and Transnational Perspective (The Czech Science Foundation, Michal Kopeček, 2022–2024)

Charter 77 represents one of the most important democratic chapters in Czech as well as Central European history. It is rightly understood as the direct predecessor of the renewed Czechoslovak and Czech democracy after 1989 and in the global context, as one of the most visible human rights organizations of the late 20th century. Despite the prolific extant literature, we still lack a comprehensive and reliable scientific monograph on the history of Charter 77. The goal of this project is a complex historical reconstruction of the origins of Charter 77, its political and social activity during the late communist dictatorship and the beginnings of the new democracy after 1989, as well as its “second” life as the foundational democratic myth of the post-89 republic. The proposed monograph will be based not only on assessing previous research, international comparison and a transnational perspective, but also on additional research of numerous new archival sources that will allow for a constructive revision of the present perspective on Charter 77 and its reception within society. More information…

Towards Illiberal Constitutionalism in East Central Europe: Historical Analysis in Comparative and Transnational Perspectives (VW Stiftung, Michal Kopeček, 2021–2025)

In recent years, the rise of authoritarian governments in East Central Europe and far right and populist movements across Europe has sparked concern that the liberal democratic order established after 1989 is falling apart. The project team will attempt to answer the question why illiberal constitutional architects of today were also in the front lines of the democratization movement in the 1980s and of the liberal transformation of the 1990s. They aim to introduce a historical, interdisciplinary, practice-oriented and comparative perspective to academic engagement with illiberal and authoritarian challenges to constitutional democracy. The project stretches from the post-war era with emphasis on the period since 1968, comprising the era of late state socialism, post-communist liberal transformation, into the present day. The project team consists of historians, scholars of law and sociology of law as well as political scientists. While all of the case studies share the same general approach, the theory and methodology employed by each will vary in order to adapt to the specificity of the local conditions. The following case studies are planned: – an investigation of references to the interwar regimes and their institutional setup in the political discourse of Poland, Czechia, Slovakia and Hungary. – a study on the intellectual sources of the rejection of liberal constitutionalism in Poland. – an examination of post-1989 conflicts over the far-right and the policing of the boundaries of democracy by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution in Eastern Ger-many. – a study of the normalization of illiberal constitutionalism – a tracing down of the various critiques of „juristocracy“ and „judicialization“ of politics. The project team supports junior researchers to focus on research on this challenge, to form a transnational network and to prepare the ground for their long-term academic engagement in the field. More information…

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