Dr. Michal Kopeček
Associated Researcher

Dr. Michal Kopeček
Associated Researcher

Michal Kopeček is a historian and head of the Department for History of Ideas and Concepts, Institute of Contemporary History, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague. In 2016-2022 he was Co-Director of Imre Kertész Kolleg, Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, Germany. He held visiting research fellowships in Bratislava, Warsaw, Regensburg, Jena, Boston, Budapest and Vienna. He was a visiting professor at Central European University in Budapest in the winter semester of 2015 and a Leverhulme visiting professor at the University of Cambridge in the Lent and Easter terms of 2021 and 2022. He is finishing a book project “The Dissident Politics of Rights: Legalism, Human Rights Discourses and the Foundations of Rule of Law in East Central Europe, 1968–2000”. He is one of the PIs of the VW-Foundation supported project Towards Illiberal Constitutionalism in East Central Europe: A Historical Analysis in Comparative and Transnational Perspectives. He is the PI of the Czech Grant Agency-funded project on the history of the Charter 77 human rights movement.

Research Interests:

  • Modern intellectual history of Central and Eastern Europe
  • History of state socialism and communism in Central and Eastern Europe
  • Nationalism and identity politics
  • Democratization and post-communism
  • History and theory of historiography, memory studies
  • Civic dissent and human rights history

Selected Publications:

Dissident Legalism. Human Rights, Socialist Legality, and the Birth of Legal Resistance in the 1970s Democratic Opposition in Czechoslovakia and Poland, in Making Sense of Dictatorship. Domination and Everyday Life in East Central Europe after 1945. – C. Donert, A. Kladnik, M. Sabrow, (eds.), Budapest—New York: CEU Press, 2022, 241–269

With A. Hudek and J. Mervart (eds.), Czechoslovakism, London: Routledge 2022;

From Narrating Dissidence to Post-Dissident Narratives of Democracy. Anti-totalitarianism, Politics of Memory and Culture Wars in East-Central Europe 1970s-2000s, in: Central European Culture Wars. Beyond Post-Communism and Populism,

P. Barša, Z. Hesová, O. Slačálek, (eds.), Prague: Faculty of Arts, Charles University 2021, 28-83, open access: dspace.cuni.cz/handle/20.500.11956/170756

Was there a socialist Rechtsstaat in late communist East Central Europe? The Czechoslovak case in a regional context, Journal of Modern European History, Vol. 18 (3) 2020; 281–296,  https://doi.org/10.1177/1611894420924960

The Socialist Conception of Human Rights and Its Dissident Critique: Hungary and Czechoslovakia, 1960s–1980s, East Central Europe, vol. 46 (2-3/2019), 261–289. doi: https://doi.org/10.1163/18763308-04602006

With A. Gjuričová, V. Rameš, P. Roubal, M. Spurný, T. Vilímek. Architekti dlouhé změny. Expertní kořeny postsocialismu v Československu. (Architects of Long Transformation: Expert Roots of Post-Socialism in Czechoslovakia) Prague: Argo 2019,

A History of Modern Political Thought in East Central Europe. Volume II, Part I Negotiating Modernity in the “Short Twentieth Century” and Beyond (1918–1968) and Part II Negotiating Modernity in the “Short Twentieth Century” and Beyond (1968-2018). B. Trencsényi, M. Kopeček, L. L. Gabrijelčič, M. Falina, M. Baár, M. Janowski, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.

A History of Modern Political Thought in East Central Europe. Volume I: Negotiating Modernity in the 'Long Nineteenth Century', B. Trencsényi, M. Janowski, M. Baár, M. Falina, and M. Kopeček, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2016. 

With P. Wciślik (eds.), Thinking Through Transition: Liberal Democracy, Authoritarian Pasts, and Intellectual History in East Central Europe After 1989, Budapest – New York: CEU Press, 2015.