October 28, 2022

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Not so long ago the wildfire revolutions that swept across Eastern Europe during that momentous year were routinely celebrated as the grand victory of liberal democracy over Soviet-style communism.  However, recent developments in Poland, Hungary and elsewhere on the continent – which in various ways all invoked 1989, either as inspiration or negative foil – behoove us to reconsider the effects of that fateful year in Central Europe from a different perspective.  Plenty of commentary on the comeback of authoritarian anti-liberalism in Central Europe has claimed that we are witnessing a kind of ‘counter-revolution,’ a dangerous repudiation of the golden principles of 1989 three decades after the uprisings. With distance the inheritance of the “revolutionary autumn” appears more mixed and precarious, and this talk revisits some of the darker shades of the inheritance.

Paul Betts, professor with University of Oxford, gave this talk on, "The Underside of Europe's 1989 Revolutions."

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Paul Betts

Paul Betts

Paul Betts is Professor of Modern European History at St Antony's College, University of Oxford. He is the author of Within Walls: Private Life in the German Democratic Republic and The Authority of Everyday Objects: A Cultural History of West German Industrial Design, along with seven co-edited volumes. He has long been interested the relationship between European culture and politics over the course of the 20th century, with special focus on material culture, photography, memory, human rights and private life. His new book is the culmination of many years of reflection on Europe's fundamentally new place in the world since 1945.