Selling the Revolution for Human Rights: The Bicentenary and the Transition
From the middle of the 1970s, developments in Eastern and Central Europe influence the emergence of a neo-Tocquevillian understanding of the French Revolution, advanced by historians such as François Furet. This interpretations stressed ideological and cultural factors against the Marxist emphasis on economic forces. The link between East and Central European dissent and this revisionist interpretation reached its peak during the bicentenary in 1989. Yet the revisionist interpretation of the French Revolution, in turn, played a decisive role in the unfolding of events in East and Central Europe in 1989–90. The talk examines these interconnections and places them in a broader historical perspective of transnational transfers of interpretive models.
István Rév is Professor of History and Political Science at the Central European University, Budapest, where he is also the Academic Director of the Open Society Archive. He has been a visiting faculty member at the University of California, Berkeley, on several occasions. Since the early 1980s, Rév has published widely on the political, cultural, and architectural history of Hungary and other Eastern bloc countries. He is the author of Retroactive Justice (Stanford University Press, 2005). He edited the special issue of Representations on “Monumental Histories” (1991).
Claudia Weber studied political science, history, and Slavic languages and literatures at Leipzig University, Athens University (Ohio), Kliment Ochridski University in Sofia, and at the Pushkin Institute in Moscow. Her PhD dissertation (Leipzig 2003) is on Balkan history and nationalism in the 19th and 20th centuries. She has taught East European history at Leipzig University and the University of Basel, and is currently a member of the research unit on the history and theory of violence at the Hamburg Institute for Social Research. She is the author of Auf der Suche nach der Nation. Erinnerungskultur in Bulgarien 1878-1944 (Lit-Verlag 2006) and has published a number of articles on war memory in the Balkans as well as on violence and Stalinism. Claudia Weber is currently writing a book on ideology and the communication of the Katyń Forest Massacre and Stalinist terror in Europe during the Cold War.