PhDr. Michal Kopeček, PhD.

Institute for Contemporary History/Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague,

Research focus:

• Comparative history of political and social thought in Central Europe of the 20th century
• Post-socialism and democratic transformation
• Politics of memory
• History and theory of historiography

Research experience and qualification:

• 2003 to present: Head of the Late- and Post-Socialism History Department at the Institute of
Contemporary History, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague
• 2016 to present: Co-Director, Imre Kertész Kolleg, Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, Germany
• 2012-2014: Post-doc Associate Fellow at the international project Physical Violence and State
Legitimacy in Late State Socialism, Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung, Potsdam
• 2008-2013: Associate Research Fellow, Centre for Advanced Study, Sofia, member of the
‘Negotiating Modernity: History of Modern Political Thought in East Central Europe’ project,
supported by European Research Council,
• 09/2007-08/2010: Member and Prague manager of the international post-graduate research
project ‚Sozialistische Diktatur als Sinnwelt. Repräsentationen gesellschaftlicher Ordnung und
Herrschaftswandel in Ostmitteleuropa in der zweiten Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts’ organized by
the Center for the Contemporary History Research, Potsdam and the Institute of Contemporary
History, Prague; supported by the VolkswagenStiftung.
• 01/2001-12/2003: Member of the international project ‘Regional Identity Discourses in Central
and Southeast Europe (1775–1945)’ at the Centre for Advanced Study, Sofia, Bulgaria.
• 01/1998 to 12/2000: Freelance journalist – Public Broadcasting – Czech Radio–1 ‘Radiožurnál’ –
Foreign Desk Reporter for Regions of Russia, Central and Eastern Europe.

From Scientific Social Management to Neoliberal Governmentality. Czechoslovak Sociology and Social Research between Authoritarianism and Liberal Democracy 1970s-1990s.

The research is a part of collective project analysing ‘expert roots’ of post-socialism. In the late socialist Brezhnevite ideological framework the Marxist utopian vision of early arrival of communist future - still palpable in the first half of the 1960s - made way to the technocratic-expert project of ‘advanced socialism’ that should have been characterized not by revolutionary charisma of the Party but ‘scientific management of society’. The Party and state agencies commissioned research in some of the most pressing societal problems, which sometimes fuelled critical arguments of various oppositional groups. Yet most of the social research, both theoretical and applied, served as an important element of the late socialist, authoritarian ‘art of governance’ using more often than not Western social research techniques and instruments. The research will exemplify this on such disciplines of social planning, economic sociology and sociology of life-style in Czechoslovakia and will hint at comparison in broader regional context, most importantly the Polish and Hungarian political sociology, which - employing somewhat different language and tools - investigated the same problems, namely the dilemmas of social integration, social cohesion and governance. Towards the second half of the 1980s, beside the Marxist-Leninist sociological mainstream, various semi-official research endeavors and expert niches appeared. They also drew their legitimacy and state-financial support from the claim that they contribute to the ‘social-scientific steering of the society.’ In fact, however, they stood away from direct ideological engagement and tried to pursue empirically oriented social research leaning more and more not only on Western sociological techniques, but also on concepts and narratives. It was from these ‘niches’ such as the urban sociology (J. Musil, Bratislava Nahlas), certain branches of the sociology of enterprise (D. Slejška, O. Sedláček) or the sociology of youth and of education (J. Alan, A. Kabátek, Z. Mansfeldová), the sociology of family (I. Možný) or the environmental sociology (H. Librová, J. Keller) that the new sociological mainstream had been formed in the early liberal democratic period after 1989. It gave legitimacy not only to post-dissident social concepts such as ‘civil society’ but also to managerial and governance techniques of the emerging neo-liberal capitalism.

Monographs and Edited Volumes:

A History of Modern Political Thought in East Central Europe. Volume I: Negotiating Modernity in the 'Long Nineteenth Century', Balázs Trencsényi, Maciej Janowski, Monika Baar, Maria Falina, and Michal Kopeček, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2016.

Thinking Through Transition: Liberal Democracy, Authoritarian Pasts, and Intellectual History in East Central Europe After 1989, Michal Kopeček - Piotr Wciślik (eds.), Budapest – New York: CEU Press, 2015.

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 is in preparation for the new History of East Central Europe Series at Brill Academic Publishers, Leiden-Boston, MA].

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

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.


Introduction: Towards and Intellectual History of Post-socialism. With P. Wciślik, In: Thinking Through Transition: Liberal Democracy, Authoritarian Pasts, and Intellectual History in East Central Europe After 1989, M. Kopeček – P. Wciślik (eds.) Budapest – New York: CEU Press, 2015, pp. 1-35.

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 In Hungarian language: Állampolgár és patrióta a totalitarizmus utáni korszakban: a cseh ellenzék, a nemzet és a demokratikus jövő. In: 2000, január 2010, pp. 3-16.

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. Czech version: Hledání „paměti národa“. Politika dějin, nostalgie a české dějepisectví komunismu. In: Dějiny, teorie, kritika, 2007, s. 7-26.