The theme of the 2014 annual convention is: “25 Years After the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Historical Legacies and New Beginnings”

2014 ASEEES President: Stephen E. Hanson, College of William and Mary

The history of Eurasia and Eastern Europe has been marked by periods of revolutionary change that seemed to contemporaries to herald the dawn of an entirely new era, but that in retrospect did not disrupt deeper institutional, social, and cultural continuities between past and present. A quarter century after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe—at a time when earlier dreams of the full-scale consolidation of market democracies across the whole of the former Soviet bloc have given way to a more sober assessment of the future of democracy and capitalism in Europe and Eurasia alike—it seems appropriate again to assess the balance of continuity and change in various parts of the region we study.

Such reflection prompts a series of interconnected intellectual questions. To what extent do historical “structures” in Eurasia and Eastern Europe constrain the ability of “agents” to reshape past institutions and practices and forge a qualitatively new future? How far back should we trace the influence of historical legacies in the region—to the communist era, to the rule of pre-communist empires, or to even earlier periods? How do debates about historical legacies and new beginnings in the geographic space once dominated by Marxist-Leninist regimes shape the way we think about the contentious definition of our region? And how do these debates play out differently, and generate different insights, in the diverse academic disciplines that make up our scholarly community?

The Association of Slavic, Eurasian, and East European Studies invites papers and panel proposals related to the themes discussed above, understood in the broadest possible sense. Topics could include, but are not limited to, debates about the reasons for and consequences of the collapse of the Soviet bloc in light of the first 25 years of post-communism; explaining and assessing the impact of “Leninist” and “pre-Leninist” historical legacies; investigating the nature of political, economic, and cultural innovation in Eurasia and East Europe, past and present; charting and understanding the changing geographies of “Eurasia” and “Europe”; and reassessing the nature of historical and social agency in the pre-Leninist, Leninist, and post-Leninist contexts.