Welcome to the Transformative Podcast, which takes the year 1989 as a starting point to think about social, economic,
and cultural transformations in the wake of deep historical caesuras on a European and global scale.

This podcast is published under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License
and is available on iTunesGoogle PodcastsSpotifyAmazon Music/AudibleListenNotesPodBean

We thank Radio ORANGE for lifting us off with our podcasting efforts through their public training program.

For questions and comments on this podcast, please contact the podcast producer Irena Remestwenski at irena.remestwenski(at)univie.ac.at

The Transformative Podcast is listed in the wisspod network; Logo: Sven Sedivy (@graphorama), Creative Commons CC-BY-ND 

Episode 42: Actors of Yugoslav Socialist Internationalism


What do the life trajectories of Yugoslav experts abroad and students from the Global South in Yugoslavia tell us about Yugoslav connections with the postcolonial world? In this episode, Peter Wright zooms in on the actors of Yugoslav socialist internationalism with Jelena Đureinović. Discussing the positionalities of experts, political activism of students and questions of racism and anti-racism, Wright argues that the experts and students help us see Yugoslavia’s relationship with the postcolonial world a little bit differently than how it is usually represented.

Peter Wright is an assistant professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign. His work revolves around Yugoslavia‘s relations with the Global South during the Cold War, focusing on development aid, education, and racism and racialisation.

Episode 41: Remembering the Neoliberal Turn


The memory of how neoliberal economic policies were implemented in Eastern Europe after 1989 is still relevant to the region’s politicians, blue-collar workers and white-collar managers, and cultural producers. In this episode of the Transformative Podcast, Veronika Pehe tells Rosamund Johnston how political, vernacular and cultural memories of the “neoliberal turn” sometimes overlap, sometimes do not, and how this continues to generate forms of social cohesion and division today. While stressing the diversity of experiences within the region (with "memory wars" relating to the 1990s sharper in some places than in others), Pehe argues that by understanding the events of the period under the rubric of the “neoliberal turn,” historians can bring East European history into conversation with economic processes such as deindustrialization taking place in other global regions at the time.

Veronika Pehe is the head of the Research Group for Historical Transformation Studies at the Czech Institute of Contemporary History in Prague. With Joanna Wawrzyniak, she is the editor of Remembering the Neoliberal Turn: Economic Change and Collective Memory in Eastern Europe after 1989 (New York: Routledge, 2024). Additionally, she is the author of a monograph, Velvet Retro, published by Berghahn in 2020, and is shortly to release a Czech-language volume on the 1990s in Czech society titled Věčná devadesátá.

Episode 40: Barcelona ’92. The New Europe at the Olympic Games


Does international sport anchor its participants into a capitalist economic system and a liberal political order? In this episode of the Transformative Podcast, Leslie Waters (University of Texas, El Paso) tells Rosamund Johnston (RECET) about the Olympics’ “mixed” record in this regard.
Barcelona 1992 served as a “coming-out party” for a host of new European states. But the games equally showcased the enduring legacy of state socialist sporting prowess. Lustration tore through some national Olympic committees while, in others, post-socialist elites used the institutions of international sport to rebrand as political liberals. Ultimately, Waters argues, sportswashing is not new, and was undertaken here by hosts Spain alongside countries with a not-so-distant socialist past. She therefore reappraises the legacy of this, “most successful,” summer Olympic Games.

Leslie Waters is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Texas, El Paso. In addition, she is the managing editor of Hungarian Studies Review. Her first book, Borders on the Move: Territorial Change and Ethnic Cleansing in the Hungarian-Slovak Borderlands was published in 2020 by University of Rochester Press.

Episode 39: Economic Memories of Transformation


Economic thinking is far from the preserve of central bankers and policy wonks. In dozens of interviews in the Czech Republic and the former East Germany, sociologist Till Hilmar asked healthcare workers and engineers about their experiences of the transformation period to understand how economic shifts are remembered, and what memories can tell us about processes of economic change. As a result, he gained a picture of transformation “from below.” In this episode of the Transformative Podcast, Hilmar tells Rosamund Johnston why people’s views of the 1990s still matter now. He explains how his work sheds light on how people respond to crisis, both in the short and long term.

Till Hilmar is a postdoctoral researcher in the University of Vienna’s Department of Sociology. He is the author of Deserved. Economic Memories after the Fall of the Iron Curtain, which was recently published by Columbia University Press. He received his PhD from Yale University in 2019. His research has been published in numerous outlets, including the European Journal of SociologyEast European Politics and Societies, and the Journal of Contemporary European Studies.

Episode 38: Beyond Political History: Social and Cultural Dynamics of Socialist Poland


In recent years, the narrative of the history of Polish socialism has changed as it moved beyond a narrow scholarly focus on political elites and party-state structures. In this episode, Thục Linh Nguyễn Vũ (RECET) speaks to Małgorzata Fidelis (University of Illinois at Chicago) about her work that examines everyday socialism through the prism of social and cultural history across various political moments in Poland. Zooming in on ordinary people and practices, Fidelis adds new layers to how the ebb and flow of socialism and transformation in Poland are understood.

Małgorzata Fidelis is Associate Professor of History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is the author of Women, Communism, and Industrialization in Postwar Poland (Cambridge UP, 2010) and Imagining the World from Behind the Iron Curtain: Youth and the Global Sixties in Poland (Oxford UP, 2022). She also co-authored a book in Polish Kobiety w Polsce 1945-1989 Nowoczesność - równouprawnienie – komunizm (Universitas, 2020). Małgorzata Fidelis’ articles have appeared in journals including Slavic Review and the Journal of Women’s History.