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Profile: Eastern Europe in a Transnational Interdependent Area

The Institute for East European Studies stands for interdisciplinary research on Eastern Europe that combines area expertise with theory-based questions from the social sciences, culture and the humanities. We study Eastern Europe in its transnational and -imperial interconnections. Three interrelated aspects are the focus of our work:

First, Eastern Europe is characterized by a common "communist" past, in which Soviet-type state socialism was structure-forming. Due to historical preconditions and specific actor constellations, however, the countries took very different transformation paths toward a market economy and democracy, which in turn have since created path dependencies.

Second, Eastern Europe has formed and continues to form its own cultural, political and economic area of interdependence, through which new/old borderlines are drawn with the different orientations of the countries after the collapse of state socialism. Eastern Europe is therefore also a focal point of new and old global and European conflicts, in which supremacy and socio-economic development opportunities as well as cultural identity concepts and self-determination are at stake. For example, Russia's current - renewed - departure from the "West" and its re-emergence as a global player have intensified in new ways the contestation over political regimes, economic and social models, and economic, political and cultural integration.

Third, we are witnessing a resurgence of authoritarianism as an overarching trend that was by no means to be expected given the different transformation paths and integration patterns after 1989. Questions about the common legacies therefore do not disappear from the research agenda, nor does the examination of the course and results of Eastern European transformation processes and their global implications.

The research profile "Eastern Europe in the transnational intertwined space" examines these developments in a regional and global perspective, without which the development in Eastern Europe cannot be understood. The research program clearly distinguishes itself from European Studies, which views Eastern Europe primarily as part of the European Union or as an associated or to-be-associated periphery.

The transnational interdependence perspective is combined with comparative approaches. The focus is on regime comparisons, which are not limited to the political system but take a broad political economy approach, relating political-legal systems, socio-economic models of order, and cultural conceptions of norms and order or conflicts. The interdependence and regime perspectives are closely related, since regime characteristics and forms of interdependence are mutually dependent on and influence each other.

The Institute for East European Studies (OEI) at Freie Universität is characterized by a combination of social sciences, culture, and the humanities. This combination of subjects, with a strong presence of the social sciences, and the size of the institute are unique in Germany.