Mag. Dr. Stephanie Weismann

Dr. Weismann is a cultural historian with a background in comparative literature, German and Slavic studies. She is currently Hertha-Firnberg-Fellow (FWF). Her research interests are sensory studies, the social and cultural history of Eastern Europe and Russia in the 19th and 20th centuries with a focus on everyday history, history of emotions, popular culture under socialism and after.

She was at RECET with her research project: "Lublin - an Olfactory Urban History of the 20th Century in East Central Europe"

The study is sniffing out different odours and malodours that defined the city's atmosphere throughout the 20th century and asks how political, social, cultural and economic structures and processes in Eastern Central Europe have been transformed into perceptible olfactory experiences. Based on selected case-studies, the project explores how these smells were perceived, discussed and handled by Lublin's citizens. By nosing around the urban courtyard of the interwar period, the housing block during socialism and the bathroom of the 80s/90s the project provides insights not only into the changing smellscapes of Poland, but also 'smells out' political and socio-cultural tensions and sensitivities.

Dr. Peter Wegenschimmel

Peter Wegenschimmel worked as a research associate at the Institute for Eastern European History at the University of Vienna and was an associate member of the Research Center for the History of Transformations.

His research project at RECET was titled Trucking Europe: The Triple Transformation of European Freight Companies since the 1980s.

In the 1990s, Central and European freight forwarders increasingly replaced the old heroes of socialist labor from heavy industry. Despite the legacy of a rudimentary road infrastructure and a modal split inclined towards railroad transport, freight forwarders in Central and Eastern European countries have been subject to high volatility under the conditions of marketization. Small companies have emerged from the green field and developed into European champions in the transport sector. By multiplying perspectives, an entangled history of Central and East European road haulage reveals the decisive factors that explain the surprising rise of these companies: the gradual opening of the European common market and the simultaneous liberalization of the European transport industry. The project focuses on the interdependencies between three kinds of transformations that began in the 1980s: democratic, neoliberal, and logistical transformations. Selected freight forwarding companies from the Federal Republic of Germany, the German Democratic Republic, and the People’s Republic of Poland and their strategies vis-à-vis European integration are analyzed. Due to the key role played by freight forwarding companies in the transnationalization of national economies, as well as the interdependencies in the trajectories of the selected companies, Central European road haulage offers a classic arena through which to trace a transnational historiography of the long and complex economic transformation of Central and Eastern Europe.

Maciej Górny (Intytut Historii PAN, Warsaw)

East Central Europe’s 20th century transformations in a comparative perspective

1989 was not the first thorough transformation in the modern history of East Central Europe. 1918 saw comparable set of economic, societal, and cultural changes. The project approaches this likeness using various groups of documents: statistics, personal documents, daily press and – most of all – economic journals of the time. Introductory studies have shown striking parallels primarily in the Western experts’ opinions on East Central Europe’s transformation 1918 and 1989. The ‘transformation science’, as developed in the 1990s, had its predecessor in the 1920s. Both shared a tendency to create hierarchies of better and worse participants in the process, and they also had a common vision of what is the economical ‘norm’ that cannot be negotiated and should be copied even by the backbenchers of liberal economy.During Maciej Górny’s research stay in Vienna his main interest was in the League of Nations’ intervention in Austria and Hungary in the early 1920s.   

Izabela Mrzygłód, M.A. (University of Warsaw)

E-Mail: iza.mrzyglod(at) 

Historian, PhD candidate at the Institute of History of the University of Warsaw and editor of the book review section of the Internet weekly “Kultura Liberalna”, strongly interested in social history of Central and Eastern Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries. Between April and June 2018 a visiting fellow at the IOG within the framework of the program “Etiuda” of the Polish National Center of Science.
Research interests: social history, nationalism, fascism, history of women, history of everyday life
Research project (PhD): Universities in the shadow of crisis. Political radicalism of students at the Universities of Vienna and Warsaw in the 1930s.

My research project tracks the process of the far-right radicalisation of students at two Central European universities in the 1930s. Using historical and sociological methods, it investigates different dimensions of student radicalism in comparative perspective. The project aims to analyse repertoire of symbols and ideas, as well as the methods and tactics the students used in order to reshape the world around them according to their ideologies. This analysis of young people’s attitudes gives an insight into the state political and national identities of the citizens in two newly-created nation-states, as well as into the foundations of the socio-political crisis of the 1930s.

The research project was supported by the OeAD (Ernst Mach Fellowship) and funded by the National Center of Science. It is currently supported by the Leibniz Institute of European History in Mainz.

The League for the Defence of Human and Civil Rights in Interwar Poland (1921–1937), in: Human Rights Leagues in Europe (1898-2016), ed. W. Schmale, Ch. Treiblmayr, Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 2017, p. 157-172. Harsh reality : living in Warsaw under hyperinflation in 1923, in: Remembrance and Solidarity. Studies in 20th Century European History, ed. Padraic Kenney, 2015, 4, p. 27-46.

Anna Ratecka (PhD Candidate at the Institute of Sociology, Jagiellonian University in Krakow)

E-Mail: anna.ratecka(at)

Her research interest are the gendered economies of transformation, sex work, the politics of trafficking in Central an Eastern Europe, gender equality. She studied at the Antioch College (USA) and the Oxford University. She is the coordinator of the research project funded by the National Science Center in Poland “Social mobilization for the rights of women selling sexual services in Poland in the transnational context”.

The transformation process brought much changes into the gender economy of CEE countries. One of the most discussed was women’s, especially CEE migrants, engagement as sex workers. This caused a social mobilization on transnational level and brought on the agenda again, similarly to the beginning of the 20th century, the issue of trafficking in women.
In my research I am looking at the mobilization for the rights of women selling sexual services in the Central and Eastern Europe in the context of the transnational mobilization against trafficking, the actions of international and national actions towards regulation of women’s mobility and grassroots mobilization of sex workers. I am especially focusing on the responses from the women’s movement to the growth of the number of sex workers in the CEE countries after 1989 – the transnational networks of activists and organizations, the translation of ideas and funds from West to East and from East to West, and the changes in the politics of sex work in the region.

Recent publications: Krzaklewska, Ewa, Anna Ratecka, Krystyna Slany, and Marta Warat. “Gender Equality and Quality of Life: Theoretical, Methodological and Policy Approaches.” In Gender Equality and Quality of Life: Perspectives from Poland and Norway, edited by Marta Warat, Ewa Krzaklewska, Anna Ratecka, and Krystyna Slany, 11–28. Wien: Peter Lang Edition, 2016.