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Shadow Memorial Diplomacy: The Ronald Reagan Centennial Year in Central and Eastern Europe

Abstract

This article examines the use of the memorialization of Reagan in transatlantic relations – specifically in the commemorations of the Ronald Reagan Centennial Year in 2011 in Central and Eastern Europe. Extrapolating from the case of Hungary, the article argues that because of the contemporary political status of its drivers and its oblique message, the Reagan Centennial’s campaign in Central Europe can be called “shadow” memorial diplomacy, which in 2011 used the former president’s memory to articulate and strengthen a model of U.S. leadership and foreign policy parallel to and ready to replace those of the then Obama administration. This study can serve as an international extension of previous scholarship on the politics of the memory of Ronald Reagan within the United States, as well as a case study of the use of memory in international relations.

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The Transformation of the Crimean Tatars’ Institutions and Discourses After 2014

Abstract

The article deals with the transformation of the Crimean Tatars’ institutions and discourses after the 2014 conflict around Crimea. It shows the change in the balance of power of traditional institutions such as Mejlis and Muftiyat, which for many years represented secular and religious components of Crimean Tatars’ ethnic identity. It tells how the Mejlis was dismissed from the political stage in Crimea, while the Muftiyat has enjoyed a great support by new authorities. This transformation and threats to societal security inevitably led to reassessment of previous views and goals of the main actors in the Crimean Tatar community and the formation of new institutions with hybrid composition and discourse. The article focuses on organization such as ‘Crimean solidarity,’ which was formed in 2016 as a reaction to authorities’ pressure over the Crimean Tatars. Using discourse analysis of statements of activists of this organization and content analysis of social media, the author presents the main topics of its discourse and types of activity. She shows how the traditional Islamic discourse of activists of this organization has been transformed by the incorporation of the main concepts of secular discourse developed by the Mejlis. The author argues that the appearance of ‘Crimean solidarity’ indicates the blurring of lines between secular and religious, and ethnic and Islamic in the Crimean Tatar society. It shows how people with different backgrounds and agendas manage to leave their differences aside to support each other in the face of a common threat.

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New Cosmopolitanisms, Race, and Ethnicity
Cultural Perspectives
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Islamophobia Without Muslims? The “Contact Hypothesis” as an Explanation for Anti-Muslim Attitudes – Eastern European Societies in a Comparative Perspective

Abstract

Even though Muslim communities are virtually absent in most Eastern European societies new research shows that Islamophobia is more widespread in Eastern Europe than in Western Europe. The existence of ‘Islamophobia without Muslims’ is surprising prima facie, but in fact this empirical pattern reflects the assumption of the contact hypothesis. In a nutshell, the contact hypothesis argues that an individual’s contact with members of an ‘outgroup’ is conducive to refute existing prejudice and stereotypes. We test the explanatory power of the contact hypothesis on both the individual and the societal level. Empirically, we draw our data from the European Social Survey (2014), which allows us to conduct a systematic comparison of Eastern and Western European societies and to account for other well-established social psychological theories of prejudice and stereotyping (e. g. Social Identity Theory, Integrated Threat Theory). Our empirical results show that people with less or no contact are more prone to Islamophobic attitudes. This pattern is characteristic for Eastern European countries as the sheer absence of Muslim communities in these societies turns out to be a relevant explanation for anti-Muslim prejudice. Eastern European citizens tend to have para-social-contacts with Muslims. In general, they rely on media and statements of (populist) politicians, to build their opinions about Muslims. Negative news coverage fueled by terrorist attacks shapes the prevailing image of all Muslims, media consumption therefore intensifies already existing anti-Muslim sentiments. As a result, Eastern European countries have been comparatively unpopular choices for migrants to settle.

Open access
Parameters of the Transition from a Cultural to a Political Program by the Czech and Slovak Elites in the Mid-19th Century

Abstract

This article examines the rise of the nascent intellectual and business bourgeois elites of the Czechs and Slovaks, focusing on the transformation of their cultural program into a political one. The article takes a comparative approach and investigates the relationship of political programs to prepolitical identities, zooming in on the parameters of a broader Czech and Slovak state identity, including the role of the center (Vienna, Pest, Prague, or Pressburg) or language (analyzing both its unifying and divisive roles in bridging the ideas and visions of the emerging local elites). As I argue, in the case of the Czech and Slovak nationalist movements, we can observe a transition from a prepolitical to the political program in the mid-19th century itself.

Open access
Securitization of the Migration Crisis and Islamophobic Rhetoric: The 2016 Slovak Parliamentary Elections as a Case Study

Abstract

This paper focuses on the migration crisis from the perspective of Slovakia while examining the impact of the crisis on the last parliamentary elections in 2016. The migration/refugee crisis that started in 2015 played a significant role during the pre-electoral discourse and political campaigns. This paper has two main goals. The primarily goal is to apply the theory of securitization as proposed by the Copenhagen Peace Research Institute on the case study of Slovakia, and the secondary goal is to analyze the 2016 Slovak general elections. In here, I describe the securitization processes, actors, and other components of the case. Subsequently, I focus on a key element of this theory that is linked to the speech act. I evaluate Islamophobia manifestations in speech act and political manifesto of Slovak political parties. My source base includes the rhetoric of nationalist political parties such as Direction-SD (Smer-SD), Slovak National Party (Slovenská národná strana), We Are Family-Boris Kollár (Sme Rodina-Boris Kollár), and Kotleba-People’ Party Our Slovakia (Kotleba-Ľudová strana Naše Slovensko), all of which often apply anti-Muslim and anti-Islam rhetoric.

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The Average Citizen Vs. The Court: Polish Citizens Trust in the Judiciary in the Period of Judicial Reforms (From 2015 to the Present)

Abstract

The Constitutional Crisis, which started in 2015 and has resulted in several bills aiming to “repair” the functioning of this institution, has undermined Polish citizens’ trust not only in political institutions such as the Sejm and the President but also in the judiciary. The level of trust in public institutions in general tends to be low in Polish society, but recent events and the circumstances in which the bills regarding the Constitutional Tribunal, common courts, the National Council of the Judiciary and the Supreme Court were passed, has led to a politicization of judicial institutions. Society, though, is very divided and opinions of the judiciary may vary and may depend on political preferences as well as many other factors.

The aim of this paper is to examine the attitude of Polish society towards the judiciary in the period of time from 2015 until now. I will also analyze the public campaign Just courts (Sprawiedliwe sądy) in the context of media content’s influence on public perception of the judiciary. The findings of this analysis could also contribute to the explanations of government’s ability to pass the bills with decreasing protest from the population even though the bills were deemed unconstitutional.

Open access
Challenges of the Illiberal Democracy in Hungary. Some Aspects to the 2018 Elections

Abstract

Political transformation reached Hungary in parallel with other Central and Eastern European countries at the turn of the 1980s and 1990s. The core of the events, the year of 1989, the so called “annus mirabilis” when, within one year almost the entire Central and Eastern European region stepped onto the path of changes. The actors adopted Western patterns within a short period, institutions of new political systems were established, and a new political power verified and consolidated its legitimacy by free elections. As a final proof of transformation, most of former socialist bloc member states joined both the NATO and the European Union. Hungary had the chance to enter in the 21st century under radically changed and much more favourable conditions than it ever had before. This smooth transformation interrupted by political and economic crisis that finally led to the victory of the opposition that managed to repeat the next elections and implemented the Programme of National Cooperation. The aim of the paper is to analyse why the adoption of the new system enjoys wide support from different social groups and how the old fixations and obsessions persisted in society. This paper also gives a brief explanation about the nature of illiberal democracy in a wider scope and link it with the history of the Hungarian democracy, the (dis) functioning institutions, and confirms the argumentation with some statistical data explaining the correlation between the support of the government and the living standards. It investigates, if the Hungarian illiberal democratic regime interpreted as consequence of the troublesome system changes or if it is rooted in the distorted political system.

Open access