Slovak Studies Association

Member Spotlight: Interview with Erin Dusza

Mucha n Me - Erin Dusza

This year the Fulbright Program celebrated 75 years. As a fitting end to 2021, the SSA interviewed Erin Dusza, a current Fulbrighter living in Brno, Czech Republic.

Erin Dusza: Indiana University, Bloomington

(Ph.D. Candidate)

Recent Publications:

Areas of Interest in Slovak Studies: Czech and Slovak Art History and National Identity (19th- early 20th century)

When/how did you first develop an interest in Slovak or Slovak-area studies? 

In my art history master’s program at Georgia State University, my advisor Dr. John Decker noticed my interest in uncommon works of art and architecture (rather than the traditional Western European art history cannon), and suggested I investigate Medieval Bohemia due to a lack of scholarship on this area in English. As I worked through my courses, a chance documentary viewing sparked an interest in the later career of Alphonse Mucha, where he made artworks that had vastly more accomplished narratives for the cause Czech nationalism. I focused on the role of Pan-Slavic texts, but also the connection between folk art and art nouveau. In my PhD coursework at Indiana University in Bloomington, I was able to study Czech language and combine history and art history courses to expand my research into a larger central European framework. After passing my comprehensive exams during the pandemic, I began researching my family history more and found my great grandmother’s place of birth in Spišské Bystre, Slovakia, which firmly set my own roots in the area. 

What is your current research/work project?

My dissertation is an examination of the presentation of nostalgic imagery as a foundation of national identity creation in the Czech lands leading to the formation of Czechoslovakia at the end of the long nineteenth century/early twentieth century. The purpose of this study is to examine how nostalgia and the vernacular were used to both reconstruct and construct an idea of shared historical identity during the nation building process, showing the positive and negative effects this tactic had. The Czech case is specifically chosen because they had a recent development of national identity, formed under foreign rule, and with very little tangible evidence to base their claims. Key to this examination will be comparative discussion of similar processes in other post-Hapsburg territories Poland and Hungary, which is uncommon in academic studies. 

Please say a few words about any activities or projects you’re involved in that link academia with society at large.

I am currently living in Brno, Czech Republic for the next eight months on a Fulbright fellowship conducting research for my doctoral dissertation alongside the scholars of the ERC funded research group CRAACE(Continuity/Rupture: Art and Architecture in Central Europe 1918-1939). Using archival and iconographic methodologies and visiting sites of public art, I intend to study how national identity is formed and visually displayed to the public.

What Slovakia-related book or article would you recommend to readers who wish to learn more about some of Slovakia’s most pressing issues?

  • Association of Slovak Writers and Artists in Hungary, Free Organization of Slovaks in Hungary, Position of the Slovak National Minority In Hungary. Hungary: The Association, 1995.
  • Baumgarten, R. Vladimir., and Joseph Stefka. The National Slovak Society: 100 Year History, 1890-1990. [Pittsburgh, PA]: The Society, 1990.
  • Brock, Peter, The Slovak National Awakening: An Essay in the Intellectual History of East Central Europe. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1976.

What is your favorite place in Slovakia to visit and why?

In December 2019 I was lucky enough to visit Košice, Slovakia to present a paper for the conference ‘Multiple Modernities’ held by the ERC funded research group CRAACE (Continuity/Rupture: Art and Architecture in Central Europe 1918-1939). My paper, titled “Fire and Desire – The artwork of Josef Čapek,” explored the use of vernacular imagery as a means of modern art expression and healing in the interwar period leading up to the second world war. Košice in December is breathtakingly beautiful and idyllic with its neo-baroque, rococo, and art nouveau architecture, colorful buildings, and imposing gothic church in the center of downtown. At Christmas time with the decorations, market stalls and a warm mulled wine it was a short but very memorable experience. I am looking forward to returning soon.

 

 


Call for Papers

21st Annual Czech & Slovak Studies Workshop

April 29-30, 2022 at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 

The Twenty-first Annual Czech and Slovak Studies Workshop, which will be held at UNC-Chapel Hill on April 29-30, 2022, welcomes papers on Czech and Slovak topics, broadly defined, in all disciplines. In the past our interdisciplinary conference has drawn participants from colleges and universities in the United States and abroad. Areas of interest have been: anthropology, architecture, art, economics, education, film, geography, history, Jewish studies, literature, music, philosophy, politics, religion, society, sociology, and theater. Work in progress is appropriate for our workshop format. Junior faculty and advanced graduate students are particularly encouraged to participate. 

This year’s program will also include an invited lecture by Pieter Judson of the European University Institute in Florence. 

The deadline for submitting proposals is January 21, 2022. The steering committee will review the proposals the following week. 

Applications should include: 

  • Paper abstract of approximately 250 words that includes your name and a paper title 
  • Curriculum vitae 
  • Please also indicate whether or not you have attended a Czech and Slovak Studies Workshop in the past. 

Application materials, as well as any questions, should be emailed to Chad Bryant at bryantc@email.unc.edu with the subject heading “Czech and Slovak Studies Workshop.” 

We look forward to your proposals. 

Chad Bryant, History, UNC-Chapel Hill 

Hana Pichová, German and Slavic Languages and Literatures, UNC-Chapel Hill 

Kirill Tolpygo, UNC-Chapel Hill Libraries 

ASEEES Convention, 2021: Slovak Panels & Annual SSA Meeting

NOLA welcomes the Slovak Studies Assoc.

This year’s Association for Slavic, East European, & Eurasian Studies conference features several panels –both in-person and virtual– that might be of interest to SSA members. In-person sessions will take place in New Orleans from November 18-21; virtual meetings will occur from December 1-3.

You can download a list of all Slovak-related panels here:

The 2021 Annual SSA Meeting

The annual SSA Meeting be held at the 2021 ASEEES Convention on Fri, November 19, 6:15 to 8:00pm CST at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside, 1st Floor, Grand Salon A. We invite all past, current and future members to attend in-person or via Zoom!

Join Zoom Meeting
https://illinois.zoom.us/j/83746908682?pwd=TWlwKzJiUXhQZktGWkFWdURTRkpiUT09

Meeting ID: 837 4690 8682
Password: 116598

SSA-Sponsored Panel, 2021

This year’s SSA-sponsored panel is entitled “Transitional Tensions in Modern Slovakia” and examines recent scholarship on Slovakia since World War II through the lens of transitional tensions generated both by regime change and societal transformation, with a particular focus on the countryside.

The panel will be held Sun, November 21, 9:00 to 10:45am CST, Hilton New Orleans Riverside, Floor: 3rd, Ascot-Newbury. Additional details can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/yjcryamy

Video Lecture: “The New Party Challenge in Slovakia: Understanding and Dealing with Constant Political Change”

Political scientists Kevin Deegan-Krause and Timothy Haughton delivered a zoom talk in summer 2021 with insights from their new book, The New Party Challenge: Changing Cycles of Party Birth and Death in Central Europe and Beyond

The talk covers the tumultuous history of changes in Slovak parties over the decades since 1989.

Abstract: Why is it that political parties in some countries endure, while in Slovakia they live fast and die young? And how unusual is Slovakia compared to other countries? In an engaging presentation based on more than a decade of research and hundreds of interviews, Prof. Deegan-Krause and Prof. Haughton will show how the findings in their new book – The New Party Challenge (Oxford University Press, 2020) – help to explain Slovakia’s rapid political change, and will then put it into broader context. By looking at Slovakia’s history, and that of other new (and old) democracies where rapid political change has become the norm, they look at the possible benefits of a shifting party system and what countries can do to escape the disadvantages.

Member Spotlight: Interview with Roman Hlatky

Roman Hlatky: University of Texas at Austin (Ph.D. Candidate)
Recent Publications:
  • Hlatky, Roman. 2021. “EU Funding and Euroskeptic Vote Choice,” Political Research Quarterly. 
  • Csata, Zsombor, Roman Hlatky, and Amy H. Liu. 2021. “How to head count ethnic minorities: validity of census surveys versus other identification strategies,” East European Politics.

Areas of Interest in Slovak Studies:  Political Parties; Voting Behavior, Nationalism

When/how did you first develop an interest in Slovak or Slovak-area studies? 

I had the good fortune of being a child of the Czecho-Slovak split. My mother is Czech and my father is Slovak. Though we emigrated to the U.S. when I was young, I spent almost all of my summers either in Nové Mesto nad Váhom or Hradec Králové. I’m pretty sure these summers – spent crossing that magically reappearing and disappearing border – shaped my interests in both Slovakia and the Czech Republic. As these states joined the European Union, I vividly remember seeing all the “brought to you by the European Union” billboards and posters that accompanied infrastructure projects. Looking back on it, it was probably these posters that stoked my academic interests.


What is your current research/work project? 

I am finishing up my dissertation on international influence over voting behavior. Essentially, I consider how actors outside of the domestic state shape individual decisions at the ballot box. More specifically, and as it pertains to Slovakia, my work considers how European Union influence, and Russian disinformation efforts shape support for nationalist political parties. Some of my work on the EU appears in my article “EU Funding and Euroskeptic Vote Choice” published in Political Research Quarterly. I also published some preliminary findings on Russian disinformation in Slovakia through a partnership with Global Focus and the U.S. Embassy in Slovakia (available here).


Please say a few words about any activities or projects you’re involved in that link academia with society at large.

During the 2019-20 academic year, I was fortunate enough to be a Fulbright Fellow in the Slovak Republic. The experience was invaluable for my research but more importantly, I had the chance to meet and work with so many impressive scholars in Slovakia. In my fieldwork, I also interviewed representatives of Mareena – a Slovak NGO that supports the integration of migrants in Slovakia. These interviews actually led to a collaborative project. As part of Mareena’s research team, I lead an EU-funded project that investigates the economic integration of non-EU migrants in Slovakia. To put it bluntly, these individuals do not have it easy when it comes to navigating Slovak bureaucracy, finding employment, and integrating in Slovakia. Thus, we hope findings from our project will help convince policy-makers to improve the situation. 

I also hope that my research on disinformation can inform policy. That is why I partnered with Global Focus and the U.S. Embassy in Slovakia to write the short policy brief on disinformation that I mention above. Hopefully, it will be available as a full academic study soon.


What Slovakia-related book or article would you recommend to readers who wish to learn more about some of Slovakia’s most pressing issues?

I would highly recommend that people interested in Slovakia read the work published by Grigorij Mesežnikov, Olga Gyárfášová, and the rest of the team at the Institute of Public Affairs (Inštitút pre verejné otázky). For a more security-oriented take, I also recommend many of the studies published by the Globesec Policy Institute. Finally, early on in my academic career, I read three books that I would recommend to students of Slovak electoral politics: 

  • Abby Innes’ Czechoslovakia: the Short Goodbye 
  • Kevin Deegan-Krause’s Elected Affinities 
  • Carol Skalnik Leff’s National Conflict in Czechoslovakia


What is your favorite place in Slovakia to visit and why?

Having spent most of my summers there, I’m very fond of the areas around Nové Mesto nad Váhom. I particularly like visiting all the castles: Beckov, Čachtice, Tematín and, of course, Trenčín Castle. The spa towns of Pieštany and Trenčianske Teplice are also beautiful and worth visiting.

 

 

 

Article Alert: “Central to Europe: The Advance of the Visegrád Four”

By SSA member Kevin J. McNamara

Click here to view the article in the July/August 2021 issue of The National Interest

Pre-pandemic economic and social progress looked very good for Czechia, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia, and troubling for Germany and France. If these trends resume—and there is no reason to think they won’t—the East will soon outshine the West.

Have you published something recently that you’d like us to share? Send it to slovakstudies@gmail.com

Conference Call for Papers

Post-WWII Migration Flows”

January 21, 2022 in Košice, Slovakia  

Click here for: Conference Submission Form and Facebook Page

Article/Book Chapter Prize Announcement

At its annual meeting during the 2021 ASEEES conference, the Slovak Studies Association will award a modest financial prize for the best article or book chapter about Slovakia in the humanities and social sciences published in 2018 or later.  All submissions must be in English, but they can be published anywhere in the world.  The publication’s author or authors are to be members in good standing of the SSA (to join, contact secretary-treasurer Carol Skalnik Leff, leffc@illinois.edu or visit our website Membership Page. First year membership is free.)

The deadline for e-receipt of submissions is July 1, 2021Send entries and any questions to Edward Snajdr, Professor, at esnajdr@jjay.cuny.edu.

The SSA Awards Committee consists of Susan Mikula (Benedictine University, in Lisle, IL), M. Mark Stolarik (University of Ottawa, in Ottawa, Canada), and Edward Snajdr (City University of New York, in New York, NY).

Member Spotlight: Interview with Denisa Nešťáková

As a means of highlighting the recent publications and scholarly work of current members, the SSA will post ‘Member Spotlight’ interviews at regular intervals.

Interested in sharing your current work? Please email us at slovakstudies@gmail.com.

DENISA NEŠŤÁKOVÁ

Denisa is a Research Associate at the Herder Institute in Marburg, Germany and a History faculty member at Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia 

Her work focuses on gender issues relating to Czech and Slovak history
Email: denisa.nestakova@gmail.com 

When/how did you first develop an interest in Slovak or Slovak-area studies? 

As a Slovak and a historian who lived, studied, and worked in Slovakia, I was not particularly interested in Slovakia or Slovak-area studies until I moved abroad and understood how much this field of study is under-researched, and thus misunderstood. Wanting to correct the marginalization of the history of Slovakia and to situate it within the broader history of “the East” thus definitely triggered my interest. 

What is your current research/work project?

I am currently working on two projects:

Please say a few words about any activities or projects you’re involved in that link academia with society at large.

I wish to combine quality academic research with the popularization of historical knowledge. Thus, I take part in seminars for teachers comparing the regimes of Tiso and Horthy (along with my Hungarian colleague Borbála Klacsmann), and we discuss sexual violence during the Second World War.

Currently I am also part of a university seminar on Fascism and Neo-Fascism in a comparative perspective, where I give a lecture on Fascism and gendered violence.  My recent article on clandestine abortions during the existence of the wartime Slovak Republic expounds on this theme: “Žena proti štátu. “Kriminálne” potraty v čase Slovenskej republiky 1939-1945” (“Woman against the State: ‘Criminal’ abortions in the Slovak Republic, 1939-1945”).  It was published along with a current best-selling book on the Slovak market titled Tisovi poza chrbát (Behind Tiso’s Back), edited by Jozef Hyrja.  

Lately I also took the opportunity to talk about my research on podcasts. Along with Andrea Pető from Central European University I discussed the Sereď Holocaust Museum, which opened in Slovakia in 2016.

As a guest of the podcast “V ženskom rode” I gave a glimpse into the history of attacks against women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights and historical parallels with the current political and ideological discussions in Slovakia.

What Slovakia-related book or article would you recommend to readers who wish to learn more about some of Slovakia’s most pressing issues?

Since research and current public debates still discuss the difficult past of Slovakia as an ally of Nazi Germany, I would recommend the outstanding article by Hana Kubátová and Michal Kubát:

And one of the most crucial and still relevant books on the Holocaust in Slovakia:

  • Ivan Kamenec, On the Trail of Tragedy: The Holocaust in Slovakia (Bratislava: Hajko a Hajková, 2007)

What is your favorite place in Slovakia to visit and why?

My hometown of Hlohovec. It is where my family and my friends live, where I belong, and where I can feel history the most. Though, aesthetically I prefer Banská Štiavnica 🙂


2021 Czech & Slovak Studies Workshop: Held Virtually at Univ. of Pittsburgh, March 18-21

Don’t miss these great opportunities. Register soon!
The paper presentations are restricted to an academic audience, the keynote and the special events are open to the wider public.
More information and registration:
Virtual 20th CSSW

The Czech and Slovak Studies Workshop aims to bring together researchers, scientists, faculty members and advanced graduate students to exchange their experiences, research results, and ideas.

The Twentieth Annual Czech and Slovak Studies Workshop will be held virtually at the University of Pittsburgh on March 18-21, 2021. The program committee welcomes proposals for papers on Czech and Slovak topics, broadly defined, in all disciplines. In the past, the areas of interest have been: anthropology, architecture, art, economics, education, film, geography, history, Jewish studies, linguistics, literature, music, philosophy, politics, religion, society, sociology, and theater.

This year’s keynote speaker will be Pavol Demeš, an internationally recognized NGO leader who opened German Marshall Fund (GMF) of the United States office in Bratislava, Slovak Republic, in 2000 in order to oversee GMF’s activities in Central and Eastern Europe. Before joining GMF, Demeš was executive director of the Slovak Academic Information Agency – Service Center for the Third Sector, a Slovak NGO committed to enhancing civil society. Previously, he served his country as foreign policy advisor to the president of the Slovak Republic (1993-1997), minister of international relations (1991-1992), and director of the Department of Foreign Relations in the Ministry of Education (1990-1991).

The workshop is a collaboration of the University of Pittsburgh, the Czechoslovak Studies Association, and the Slovak Studies Association.

Questions should be submitted by email to Marcela Michálková at: michalkova@pitt.edu .


Experts Discuss: Slovak Politics–Current Perspectives

For those who missed this panel at the 2020 ASEEES Convention, here’s your chance to catch up, courtesy of Friends of Slovakia, who hosted the discussion.

Click here to: view ‘Slovak Politics’ discussion.

Panelists – Tim John Haughton (University of Birmingham, UK), Kevin Deegan-Krause (Wayne State University, USA), Karen Henderson (University of Ss. Cyril & Methodius, Slovakia), and Carol Skalnik Leff (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA) – discussed the lessons of the 2020 elections about the role of corruption and political campaigning. They also examined post-election shifts in party relations in both the government and opposition, the role of President Zuzana Čaputová, the influence of extremist and anti-system parties, and the Hungarian parties’ position in the current Slovak political scene. Moderated by Scott Thayer, Chairman of Friends of Slovakia.


Join Dr. Leslie Waters’ Book Talk

Correction: Friday, February 5th, 2021 @ 1:00 – 2:30pm (MST)

Hosted by the Department of History, University of Texas El Paso

Borders on the Move: Territorial Change and Ethnic Cleansing in the Hungarian-Slovak Borderlands, 1938-1948 (University of Rochester Press, 2020)

Dr. Waters currently serves on the Board of the Slovak Studies Association and as Vice President of the Hungarian Studies Association. Her book, Borders on the Move, examines the impact of border changes and migrations on this region between 1938 and 1948. It investigates the everyday consequences of geopolitical events that are well-known from the perspective of international and national histories, but does so explicitly in the context of the borderland. Making skillful use of state and local archival sources in Hungary and Slovakia, author Leslie Waters illuminates the catastrophic effects of state action – including sweeping wealth redistribution and the expulsion of those perceived as enemies of the state – on individuals. This engagingly written and far-reaching work will be invaluable to scholars of the Holocaust and of East Central Europe as well as to those who study forced migration, population exchange, and inter-ethnic relations.

Please join us via zoom:

Time: Feb 5, 2021 01:00 PM Mountain Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/96233619254?pwd=bWV2T01QcHFjbnJxSVFwNE5zQjk0dz09

  • Meeting ID: 962 3361 9254
  • Passcode: a4zcD8

‘The Auschwitz Report’ (‘SPRÁVA’) Film–Free Viewing Jan. 28 only!

Register online at: The Simon Wiesenthal Center and Museum of Tolerance

Free screening tomorrow only, Jan. 28, 2021, (Int’l. Holocaust Remembrance Day, the 76th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz) 

Slovakia’s entry for Best International Feature Film for the 2021 Academy Awards and Golden Globes

After more than a year of meticulous planning, Auschwitz prisoners Alfred “Freddy” Wetzler and Valér Vrba set forth an escape plan in hopes of sharing detailed evidence about the deadly operations of the Nazis in the Camp. With the resilient aid of their fellow inmates, the pair of Jewish Slovak inmates embarks on a treacherous journey. Emaciated and hurt, they endure numerous obstacles along their way, but none greater than the realization they must convince a world unwilling to believe them that what they experienced was real.

Academy Award®-winning Writer/Director of Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Moriah Films, Richard Trank moderates a discussion with Director, Peter Bebjak and star Noel Czuczor (Freddy) following the screening.

Caution: Viewer discretion advised.


Krúžok: Upcoming Presentations Online

Our new member Orel Beilinson, a doctoral candidate at Yale University, announces the program of Krúžok, a working group for early-career scholars studying the modern history of Central and Eastern Europe.  Presentation themes range across Central and Eastern Europe but include Czech/Slovak topics among them. 

Krúžok aims to…

  1. Encourage scholarly work on the history of the Habsburg Empire, the post-Ottoman Balkans, and the successor states.
  2. Provide a forum for presenting research in progress and receiving constructive feedback.
  3. Facilitate meaningful conversations about the state of the field.
  4. Develop a network of peers working on the region’s history across themes, countries, institutions, and oceans.

The December 17, 2020 online presentation schedule (as well as monthly presentations through June 2021) can be found at the following download link (thanks to the Czechoslovak Studies Association for alerting us!):


Remembering Nov. 17, 1989

31 Years since the Collapse of Communism in Czechoslovakia

Short video introducing the ‘Spytaj sa Vasich’ Project

The importance of preserving memory increases as we move further and further away from the lived experience of Communism in Czechoslovakia from 1948-1989. The ‘Spytaj sa Vasich’ Project aims to do just that and offers a collage of excerpts (written and video) to chronicle what it was like to live under, and eventually overthrow, the Communist regime.

ASEEES Virtual Convention, 2020

ASEEES 2020 Convention

Slovak-Themed Panels and Annual SSA Meeting

This year’s annual Association of Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) Convention promises to deliver a wealth of research findings from across the globe as a variety of scholars will present from their own time zones via Zoom!

Download (see below) a list of the Slovak-related panels to be presented online (not in person!) at the 2020 ASEEES Convention: Nov. 5-8 and Nov. 14-15. All times listed are EST.

Please note that the annual Slovak Studies Association meeting will be held on Friday, Nov. 6 from 6:30-8:30pm, ESTVirtual Convention Platform, Room 6.

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