1st Edition

Remembering the Neoliberal Turn Economic Change and Collective Memory in Eastern Europe after 1989

Edited By Veronika Pehe, Joanna Wawrzyniak Copyright 2024
    334 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book discusses how societies, groups and individuals remember and make sense of global neoliberal change in Eastern Europe. Such an investigation is all the more timely as the 1990s are increasingly looked to for answers explaining the populist and nationalist turn across the globe.

    The volume shows how the key processes that impacted many lives across the social spectrum in Eastern Europe, such as deindustrialization, privatization, restitution and abrupt social reorganization, are collectively remembered across society today and how memory narratives of the 1990s contribute to current identities and political climate. This volume establishes the memory of economic transformation as a research focus in its own right. It investigates different levels of memory, from the national through the local to the cultural, analysing key myths of the transformation, giving special recognition to the social space and vernacular memories of the transformation period and reflecting on how the changes of the 1990s are mediated in cultural representations.

    Given the book’s interdisciplinary scope that covers several fields, it will prove to be of interest to those working in memory studies, contemporary history, sociology, East European area studies and literary and film studies. It will also serve as a significant point of reference for those researching the interdisciplinary and rapidly expanding field of transformation studies and thus is an invaluable source across different fields.


    1. Neoliberalism, Eastern Europe and collective memory: setting the framework
    2. Joanna Wawrzyniak and Veronika Pehe 

      Part I. Founding myths and counter-narratives of the transformation

    3. Shock therapy mythologies: contested memories of Poland’s Balcerowicz Plan
    4. Florian Peters

    5. A recurring bone of contention: the memory politics of Slovakia’s economic transformation
      Matej Ivančík
    6. From communism to neoliberalism: conflated memories of Bulgaria’s corrupted transition
    7. Tom Junes and Ivo Iliev

    8. Political uses of memory of the early period of the post-Soviet transformations in contemporary Russia
    9. Olga Malinova

    10. Regimes of truth and the discontent of memories: self-deception and denial during the growing together of the two Germanies
      Thomas Lindenberger
    11. Part II. Vernacular memories and biographical narratives

    12. Economic change, skills and the shifting horizons of social recognition: East German and Czech care workers remember the disruptive 1990s
    13. Till Hilmar

    14. ‘The lost years’: gender, citizenship and economic change in Romania during the long 1990s
    15. Jill Massino

    16. 'There was no more work, no more life, no more anything…': Hungarian workers’ memories of the neoliberal transition
    17. Tibor Valuch

    18. How the Polish business elite remembers the neoliberal turn
    19. Kamil Lipiński and Joanna Wawrzyniak

    20. The neoliberal turn in biographical narratives of young people in Poland
    21. Adam Mrozowicki and Justyna Kajta

      Part III. Cultural memory of economic change

    22. Privatization comedies as media of memory of the Czech(oslovak) economic transformation
      Veronika Pehe
    23. Screening the criminal underworld of capitalist nation-state making: Dogs and memory of the 1990s in Poland
    24. Saygun Gökarıksel

    25. The moral right to economic crime: remembering the Russian 1990s in a tragic mode in Alexei Ivanov’s Nasty Weather [Nenast’e]
    26. Ksenia Robbe

    27. Films without a viewer: Ukrainian filmmakers and memory of the neoliberal turn in the post-Soviet space
    28. Olga Gontarska and Veronika Pehe

    29. The German ‘floating gap’: post-unification memory in literary fiction
    30. Joanna Jabłkowska and Magdalena Saryusz-Wolska

    31. ‘We’re rushing towards capitalism like the Titanic towards a fucking iceberg’: representations of East German (social) transformation in films and TV series from the 2000s until today

              Anna Lux

      18. Memories of the neoliberal turn in comparative perspective: a research agenda

             Veronika Pehe and Joanna Wawrzyniak


    Veronika Pehe is a researcher at the Institute of Contemporary History of the Czech Academy of Sciences, where she leads the Research Group for Historical Transformation Studies. She specializes in cultural history, memory and film and television.

    Joanna Wawrzyniak is associate professor in sociology and director of the Center for Research on Social Memory at the University of Warsaw. She is vice chair of the EU COST Action Slow Memory: Transformative Practices for Times of Uneven and Accelerating Change.

    "This revolutionary book goes back to the long-forgotten origin of memory studies by considering people's economic situations as the main frameworks of remembrance. It draws a very much needed and urgent agenda not only for Eastern Europe but for the whole world."

    - Sarah Gensburger, French National Center for Scientific Research - Sciences Po Paris