Affect, Noise, Silence, Protest: Ambient Citizenship

Lauren Berlant teaches at the University of Chicago. She works on affect, law, and publicness in the U.S. from the 19th century to the present. Her most recent book is The Female Complaint: the Unfinished Business of Sentimentality in American Culture (Duke University Press, 2008). This piece comes from the forthcoming book Cruel Optimism. Intensely political seasons spawn reveries […]

After 1989 and Beyond: Three Theses

Hauke Brunkhorst is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Flensburg, Germany. In the current academic year (2009-2010), he is the Heuss Professor at the New School of Social Research. His work translated into English includes Solidarity: From Civic Friendship to a Global Legal Community (MIT Press, 2005). (1) The transformations of 1989 – symbolized by the fall of […]

From Revolutionaries to External Vanguards

Andrew Arato is Dorothy Hart Hirshon Professor of Political and Social Theory at the New School for Social Research. His work on the subject includes the books From Neo-Marxism to Democratic Theory: Essays on the Critical Theory of Soviet-Type Societies (Sharpe, 1993) and Civil Society, Constitution, and Legitimacy (Rowman & Littlefield, 2000). This is a great occasion, a great 20th anniversary […]

How the Impossible Becomes Inevitable: The Public Sphere and the Collapse of Soviet Communism

Mark Beissinger is a Professor of Politics at Princeton University. His work on the subject includes the book Nationalist Mobilization and the Collapse of the Soviet State (Cambridge, 2002). Viewed in retrospect, the collapse of Soviet communism appears over-determined for all the reasons often cited. A highly repressive political system that could broker no genuine pluralism; a sclerotic, […]

The Not So Lost Treasure of the Revolutionary Tradition: 1989 and the Politics of Small Things

Jeffrey Goldfarb is Michael E. Gellert Professor of Sociology at the New School for Social Research. His work on the subject includes The Politics of Small Things: The Power of the Powerless in Dark Times (Chicago, 2006) and On Cultural Freedom: An Exploration of Public Life in Poland and America (Chicago, 1982). I think that the kind of activity that […]

People Power? Explaining 1989

Konrad H. Jarausch is Lurcy Professor of European Civilization at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His work on the subject includes the book The Rush to German Unity (Oxford, 1994) and the edited volume Dictatorship as Experience: Towards a Socio-Cultural History of the GDR (Berghahn, 1999). As the most important European event since 1945, the overthrow of […]

Public Spheres, Private Lives, and Roundtable Negotiations in 1989 and 2009

Michael Kennedy is Howard R. Swearer Director of the Watson Institute and Professor of Sociology and International Studies at Brown University. His work on the subject includes Cultural Formations of Postcommunism: Emancipation, Transition, Nation, and War (University of Minnesota Press, 2002) and Professionals, Power and Solidarity in Poland: A Critical Sociology of Soviet-Type Society (Cambridge, 1991). Even for Poland, 1989 […]

1989 and the Theater of Politics

Elzbieta Matynia is an Associate Professor of Liberal Studies and Sociology at the New School for Social Research. Her work on the subject includes her new book Performative Democracy (Paradigm, 2009). No matter how miraculous the turning point of 1989 appeared to be, it was hardly a miracle; rather, it was a marvelous staging of freedom in several […]

From Revolution to Reunification: The East German Wende Two Decades Later

Steven Pfaff is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for West European Studies at the University of Washington. His work on the subject includes the book Exit-Voice Dynamics and the Collapse of East Germany: The Crisis of Leninism and the Revolution of 1989 (Duke University Press, 2006). In 1989, protest erupted across the socialist […]