Anthropology, Geography, History, Sociology

Course date

4 July - 15 July, 2011
Application deadline:
15 February, 2011
Course Director(s): 

Mary Taylor

Center for Place, Culture and Politics, Graduate Center, The City University of New York, USA

Csilla Kalocsai

University of Toronto, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Center for Women's Studies in Education, Canada

Judit Bodnar

Department of History/Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary
Course Faculty: 

Johanna K. Bockman

Department of Sociology and Anthropology, George Mason University, Fairfax, USA

David Harvey

Department of Anthropology, Graduate Center, The City University of New York, USA

Jacek Kochanowicz

Department of History, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary

Ivan Szelenyi

New York University, Abu Dhabi

The global nature of the current financial crisis has turned attention to the uneven geographical development of capitalism and reminded us that "crisis" is an important mechanism in its historical transformation. Turning a historical lens on the role of crises of capital, social theorists have examined connections between the contemporary crisis and the oil crisis of the 1970s, which had important reverberations globally, not least in the state socialist polities of Europe.

Inspired by scholarship that traces the origins of neoliberalism to the crisis of the 1970s, this summer school aims to draw out the relationships between the neoliberal response to crisis and the socialist world. We seek to historicize how the crisis effected the trajectory of economic and social policy, as well as of political discourse, in East Europe, and to examine what role the second world played in adaptations to the crisis as global markets expanded and the region became increasingly intertwined with capitalist economies. Exploring these connections, the course seeks to historicize and spatialize the rise of a set of ideologies, policies, and governmentalities described as "neoliberalism" that became the dominant political economic response to the crisis in many parts of the world.

Focusing on this region which is often taken as a model case of neoliberalization, we ask how socialist countries figured as debtors and creditors in the global economy, how their relation to debts and credits influenced their take on liberalization, and what specific linkages and tensions we find between processes and discourses of liberalization and of neoliberalization. Our goal is to enhance critical understanding of the complicated relations between "socialist" and "capitalist" worlds, on the one hand, and of the intersection of (post)socialism and (neo)liberalism, on the other. By exploring neoliberalization in relation to longer-term liberalization processes in formerly state socialist polities in Europe, we therefore engage the debate on whether neoliberalism signifies fundamental continuity or a historical-institutional rupture in relation to liberalism.

This summer school course will bring together an interdisciplinary team of international and local scholars whose research revisits the complex link between "socialist liberalization" and "postsocialist neoliberalization" in the context of uneven geographical development of capitalism and its systemic crises. Aiming to problematize analytical and advocacy approaches which serve to obscure certain continuities and ruptures, we will explore four analytic themes: 1) the "socialist origins of neoliberalism"; 2) connections between "liberalizing socialisms" and "neoliberalizing postsocialisms"; 3) the importance of the term liberalism and the near absence of critiques of neoliberalism (as such) in the region; and 4) the dynamics of crisis: finance and debt in socialist and postsocialist states.