What’s new at the Prague Spring? Evidence from the Grassroots on the Viability of Human Socialism with James Krapfl – Isthmus

UW Center for Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia (CREECA) Conference.

press release: Historians once claimed that after 1968 no one in Eastern Europe seriously believed that socialism could work. We now know that this assessment is wrong, as many Czech and Slovak citizens in particular expressed hope in 1989 that they could pick up where the Warsaw Pact invasion had forced them to leave off. So what changed in the minds of Czechoslovak citizens in 1968? This conference will address this question on the basis of a comparative study of Czech and Slovak neighborhoods and cities, relating how citizens outside the capitals experienced the Prague Spring and embodied it in their daily lives. Based on this grassroots evidence, the talk will also answer the thorny question of what might have happened if the Warsaw Pact had not been invaded, that is, if “socialism human” was viable.

About the speaker: James Krapfl teaches modern European history at McGill University in Montreal. His book Revolution with a human face: politics, culture and community in Czechoslovakia, 1989-1992, has won numerous awards for challenging Western triumphalist accounts of the 1989 revolutions on the basis of evidence “from below”. Krapfl has also written about the evolution of 1989 memory across Central and Eastern Europe, dissent and civic movements before and after 1989, and microprocesses of normalization. He is the editor of Canadian Slavonic Papers / Revue canadienne des slavistes.

Berta D. Wells