Imre Kertész Kolleg Jena

Dr Michal Kopeček

Fellow Michal Kopeček

September 2012 - August 2013
Mail kopecek(at)usd.cas(dot)cz

Michal Kopeček is a researcher, since 2003 the head of the Post-1989 Democratic Transition History Department at the Institute of Contemporary History in Prague. From 2010 he teaches as Assistant Professor of Czech and Central European History at the Institute of Czech History, Charles University. He obtained his PhD at the Department of Russian and Eastern European Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University, Prague in 2005. He was awarded several prizes and fellowships among others Czech Academy of Sciences 2009 Otto Wichterle Prize for Junior Scholars, the Visiting Scholar-in-residence Fulbright Fellowship in 2005-2006, the International Visegrad Fund Fellowship at the István Bibó Research Center, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest in 2003-2004, and the Robert Bosch Junior Visiting Fellowship at the Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna in 2001.

Research project at the Kolleg

The ‘Legacy of Dissidence’: Memory Politics and the Intellectual Origins of Post-Socialism in East Central Europe
At the Kolleg Michal Kopeček is finishing his book project in comparative intellectual and socio-cultural history of the dissidence and its legacy in east central Europe in the last third of the twentieth century. Its main focus is on Czechia, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia. It is informed by the political development, contest for legitimacy and the politics of history in the 1990s that has left a fundamental imprint on political and social practices in these new European democracies. It endeavors to answer the following question: how did the reconstruction of collective identities and the contest for the “authentic” community representation (in terms of community of the dissidents as well as of the nation as a whole) in the alternative political and cultural structures (dissidence, nationally minded opposition, second culture, etc.) preconditioned and shaped the democratic political project in East Central Europe after 1989?

Main areas of research

  • comparative modern intellectual history in east central Europe
  • history of state socialism and communism in central and eastern Europe
  • democratization and postsocialism studies
  • history and theory of historiography, memory studies

Positions/ Memberships

  • Member of the Academic Board of the Institute of Contemporary History, Prague
  • Member of the editorial boards of academic journals Soudobé dějiny (Contemporary History; Prague) and Dějiny, teorie, kritika (History, Theory, Criticism; Prague)
  • Associate fellow of the Centre for Advanced Study, Sofia


Rozděleni minulostí. Vytváření politických identit v České republice po roce 1989. (Divided by the Past. Formation of Political Identities in the Czech Republic after 1989.) With: A. Gjuričová, P. Roubal, J. Suk, T. Zahradníček. Praha, Knihovna Václava Havla 2011

Hledání ztraceného smyslu revoluce. Zrod a počátky marxistického revizionismu ve střední Evropě 1953-1960. (Quest for the Revolution's Lost Meaning. Origins of the Marxist Revisionism in central Europe 1953-1960), Praha, Argo 2009 [English translation in preparation]

Edited Volumes

Past in the Making. Historical Revisionism in Central Europe after 1989. Michal Kopeček (ed.), Budapest, New York, CEU Press 2008.

Kapitoly z dějin české demokracie po roce 1989 (Chapters from the History of Czech Democracy after 1989), Adéla Gjuričová and Michal Kopeček (eds.), Praha-Litomyšl, Paseka, 2008.

Discourses of Collective Identity in Central and Southeast Europe 1770-1945. Texts and Commentaries. Vol. II. National Romanticism - The Formation of National Movements. Balázs Trencsényi and Michal Kopeček (eds.), Budapest, CEU Press 2007.

Discourses of Collective Identity in Central and Southeast Europe 1770-1945. Texts and Commentaries. Vol. I. Late Enlightenment - Emergence of the Modern 'Nation Idea'. Balázs Trencsényi and Michal Kopeček (eds.), Budapest, CEU Press 2006.

Bolševismus, komunismus a radikální socialismus v Československu, vol. I-V (Bolshevism, Communism and Radical Socialism in Czechoslovakia) Zdeněk Kárník - Michal Kopeček (eds.), Praha, ÚSD-Dokořán 2003-2005.


Human Rights facing a National Past. Dissident 'Civic Patriotism' and the Return of History in East Central Europe 1968-1989, In: Geschichte und Gesellschaft (forthcoming in December 2012 issue).

Von der Geschichtspolitik zur Erinnerung als politischer Sprache: Der tschechische Umgang mit der kommunistischen Vergangenheit nach 1989, in: François, Etienne; Kończal, Kornelia; Traba, Robert; Troebst, Stefan (Hg.): Geschichtspolitik in Europa seit 1989. Deutschland, Frankreich und Polen im internationalen Vergleich. Göttingen: Wallstein 2012 ( forthcoming).

Historical Studies of Nation-Building and the Concept of Socialist Patriotism in East Central Europe 1956-1970. In: Pavel Kolář - Miloš Řezník (eds.), Historische Nationsforschung im geteilten Europa 1945-1989, Köln: shverlag 2012, pp. 121-136.

The Rise and Fall of Czech Post-Dissident Liberalism after 1989. East European Politics & Societies, April 15, 2011, vol. 25, no. 2, s. 244-271.

Citizen and Patriot in the Post-Totalitarian Era: Czech Dissidence in Search of the Nation and its Democratic Future. In: Tr@nsit online. The ''Brave New World'' after Communism. 1989: Expectations in Comparison. Put online in December, 2009.

Entwicklung des Reform- und Kritikpotentials. Bilanz der Kommunismus- und Regimekritik in der Tschechoslowakei. In: Der Prager Frühling: das Ende einer Illusion? Jiří Gruša, Jan Pauer, Wolfgang Lederhaas (eds.), Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, DA Favorita Paper 01/2008, pp. 10-19.

In Search for "National Memory". The Politics of History, Nostalgia and the Historiography of Communism in the Czech Republic and East Central Europe In: Past in the Making. Historical Revisionism in Central Europe after 1989. Michal Kopeček (ed.), Budapest, New York, CEU Press 2008, pp. 75-96.

A Difficult Quest for New Paradigms. Czech Historiography after 1989. With Pavel Kolář, In: Narratives Unbound. Historical Studies in Post-Communist Eastern Europe. Sorin Antohi, Peter Ápor and Balázs Trencsényi (eds.), Budapest, New York, CEU Press, 2007, pp. 173-248.

A full list of publications can be found on the website of the Institute of Contemporary History at the Czech Academy of Sciences.