Issue 5 2017: Homo post-sovieticus

cover 5 2017

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Stories of an unfinished transformation


Anyone interested in Central and Eastern Europe understands that this region is far from monolithic, also in the implementation (or lack thereof) of western economic and political systems. At the same time we cannot deny there is something idiosyncratic about the former Soviet bloc, something which links its societies together. Either through common experience or history (or both).


We address this phenomenon in this issue roughly using the term Homo post-sovieticus. It allows our authors to talk about the legacy of the socialist past that, as they argue, has not yet fully disappeared. Its traces can be found throughout the region and shape the lives of its many people. These traces have been captured by a group of photographers who collectively call themselves the Sputnik group. Their unique project is presented by Wojciech Górecki in the opening essay to this issue and is accompanied by some their illustrative photographs.


In addition, we tackle the issue of the incomplete system transformation which, in many cases, has allowed for a creation of hybrid socio-economic systems. They may, like in Georgia as discussed by Kaja Puto,be a result of a hasty reconstruction of the state to look more like what is believed to be the West. Or, as is the case of Belarus, which is analysed by Maxim Rust, reveal a slower emergence of collective identity that is both submissive and open, passive and entrepreneurial. A simultaneous challenge and opportunity.


In the case of post-Maidan Ukraine, which without a doubt the transformation has gone much further, the rooting of the western value system is also still under way. As we can see from Andriy Lyubka and Nina Boichenko’s texts the possible risks of its interruption cannot be ignored.


Additionally, in this issue we have prepared two special sections: the first one, published on the 500-year anniversary of Martin Luther’s Ninety-five Theses debates the legacy of the Reformation from our region’s standpoint, while the second, at the end of the issue, is dedicated to Joseph Conrad – a Polish-born writer whose masterpieces have been read and studied throughout the world for generations. Our authors take a new look at Conrad, his influences and how his works are still very relevant in 2017.


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Table of Contents




Traces of the Soviet Union
Wojciech Górecki
Is talking about a post-Soviet reality justified? Or is it more of an offence? Does the term “post-Soviet” even make sense today – 26 years since the Soviet Union collapsed?


A 21st century Homo sovieticus?
Maxim Rust
Instead of portraying the remnants of the Belarusian Homo sovieticus as a problem, we should see it as a challenge and potential advantage.


A new Georgia?
Kaja Puto
The more peripheral an Eastern European country is, the more vigorously it waves the European Union flag. Georgia waves it the most vigorously, even though it is located in Asia.


Seeking the ties that bind
Katarina Novikova and Wiktor Trybus


Tired of the status quo
An interview with Nikolay Artemenko


What is a Russian oligarch?
Sean Guillory
The use of the term “oligarch” or “oligarchy” in the Russian context speaks to debates about the very nature of the Russian political system.


Conspiracy theories and the fear of others
Ilya Yablokov


Has the war really changed Ukrainians?
Andriy Lyubka
Three years have passed since the onset of war in Ukraine. As a result some changes have occurred in the Ukrainian mentality but questions still remain: How deep are those changes? And what would it take for a reversal in attitudes towards the West?


Inside Ukraine’s ideological renewal
Nina Boichenko


Oxford on the Vistula
Jo Harper




A thief’s fear of punishment is incompatible with democracy
An interview with Anastasia Kirilenko


Not dedicated to big political visions
An interview with Jan Šerek




Polish encounters
Charles Gati
Zbigniew Brzezinski’s death this year is a huge loss to me and my wife. He was America’s greatest strategic thinker and had a significant impact on my professional life, as did many other Poles and Polish-Americans throughout the last 40 years or so.


Connecting histories and geographies. The Jews of Central Asia
Thomas Loy




On prayer and politics in the GDR
A conversation with Markus Meckel


Poland’s Protestant diversity
Andrzej Zaręba


The Reformation’s unexpected legacy in Ukraine
Kateryna Pryshchepa


The humble pastor
Naphtali Rivkin


Reviews and discussions


Whose hostages?
Yulia Oreshina


When hard words break democracy’s bones
Mateusz Mazzini


The neoliberal world was made for autocrats
Millie Radović


In Russia’s near abroad, storylines matter
Joseph Larsen


Feeling history, 70 years on
Paul Toetzke


Slavic geopolitics
Marek Wojnar




Joseph Conrad. A Polish and European writer
Kinga Anna Gajda


Wherever you may sail, you are always sailing towards Poland
A conversation with Professor Zdzisław Najder


The first transnational author
Laurence Davies


Lord Jim in the 21st Century
Gene M. Moore


Joseph Conrad and the East
Douglas Kerr 



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