Veronika Pehe is a historian based at the Institute of Contemporary History of the Czech Academy of Sciences, where she leads the Research Group for Historical Transformation Studies.
Learning the market: Czech and Slovak visual media, private enterprise and middle-class imaginations, 1980-2000
This project investigates the declared ideological aims of the transformation project from planned to market economy in Czechoslovakia (from 1993 Czech Republic and Slovakia). It approaches the transformation era as a specific world of meaning and asks how different social groups made sense of ideological messages about economic and political change in their everyday lived experience. One of the key aims of the transformation era was the (re)building of a new middle class, especially through the support of private enterprise. This aim was, however, not conveyed only on the level of political discourse. Visual media were key in this regard. Television programmes, films and magazines emphasized that citizens needed to “learn” new patterns of thinking and shaped imaginations of enterprising behaviours and middle-class consumption patterns. The project traces the longer histories of such representations, investigating which segments of the population were receptive to entrepreneurial and middle-class values already before 1989. Focusing on both the messages in these media and their reception, the project examines the “pedagogy” of visual culture and analyses how such educational efforts resonated with the population. Such an examination can help to answer the question to what extent the values and ideals of the social class that was meant to be one of the main protagonists of the liberal transformation were effectively assimilated.
Velvet Retro: Postsocialist Nostalgia and the Politics of Heroism in Czech Popular Culture. Berghahn Books, 2020.
Veronika Pehe and Joanna Wawrzyniak, eds. Remembering the Neoliberal Turn. Economic Change and Collective Memory in Eastern Europe after 1989. Routledge 2023.
Recent articles and book chapters
“Commodifying postsocialist cinema: filmmakers and the privatization of the Polish and Czech film industry after 1989”. Journal of Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe, vol. 30, 1 (2022), 11-26.
“The Entrepreneur in ‘Transformation Cinema’: Representing the Economic Changes of the 1990s in Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia”. East European Politics & Societies and Cultures, vol 36, 2 (2022): 446- 464.
“Zlatá devadesátá?” In Miroslav Vaněk et al, ed., Sto studentských evolucí. Vysokoškolští studenti roku 1989. Životopisná vyprávění v časosběrné perspektivě. Prague: Academia, 2019, 185-222.
“The Wild 1990s: ‘Transformation Nostalgia’ Among the Czech Student Generation of 1989”. East Central Europe, vol. 46, 1 (2019): 111-134.