Joint Final Report

New Exploratory Phase in Research on East European Cultures of Dissent: Joint Final Report

In order to achieve its main aim, NEP4DISSENT created a platform that opened the national and disciplinary silos in dissident studies to transnational, multidisciplinary and technology-conscious research with creative dissemination capacities. The Action integrated  three communities of practice: (1) knowledge producers (scholars of various disciplines), (2) knowledge mediators (archivists, librarians, IT specialists), and (3) knowledge disseminators (art and cultural heritage curators). Our network counts 320 unique contacts, including both one-time and continuously involved participants from all COST countries except for Cyprus and Moldova (and including the new members Georgia and Ukraine), as well as 2 COST Near Neighbour Countries (Kosovo and Russia). 

NEP4DISSENT activities revolved around the issues identified in the Action’s first deliverable, the Joint Review Report (April 2020). It was the outcome of the state of the art review conducted within the Action’s Working Groups in the course of first two years, which scoped out the existing research initiatives, digital research tools, and dissemination best practices in research on East European cultures of dissent, captured the emerging trends in scholarship within this domain against the background of the state of the art, and set priorities for future research and capacity building. The conclusions of this report were translated into the Implementation Plans (ImPlans) of the Working Groups (WG), which served as a blueprint for targeted interventions into the research field.

NEP4DISSENT sizeably expanded the field of research on dissent uder socialism, by including hitherto unrepresented actors and phenomena, such as religious minorities, feminists and women right activism, popular music, transnational artist networks, or the phenomeon of left dissent among socialist thikers and artists. In all these areas, the Action gave a higher research profile to the transnational dimension of cultural dissent, in particular to how the meanings of the East-West divide of the continent, however persistent, evolved in dialogue, contestation, and work-arounds. The Action pioneered in systematic investigation of the phenomenon of post-dissent, offering insights into the processes of canonisation and contestation of the dissident legacy, and post-dissident public figures after 1989.

In all of these areas, NEP4DISSENT supported individual research awarding almost one hundred grants (fifty nine STSMs, twenty five Conference Grants, and  fourteen Virtual Mobility Grants) and organised fourteen international conferences and research workshops (in addition to the three onsite and three virtual Action Summits, collocating the MC meeting with other networking events). Action networking contributed directly to nineteen publications involving Action participants from at least two different countries (three of which were supported financially), at least twenty two individually authored publications, as well as at least twenty research projects

Capacity-building for Early Career Investigators (ECI) was an important means of triggering the new discovery phase. The Action contributed to educating a new generation of scholars of  dissent, better adapted to a networked, transnational, multidisciplinary and technology-conscious research environment. Knowledge transfer of digital research methods was of singular importance, translating into two editions of the training school “Cultures of Dissent in Eastern Europe (1945-1989): Research Approaches in the Digital Humanities”, and five smaller workshops, with over hundred participants altogether. That was complemented by training programs in comparative media systems, intellectual history of Eastern Europe, and dissent in film (three events with further fifty participants). Further, ECIs were awarded thirty one STSM grants, eleven Virtual Mobility grants, and twenty three Conference Grants. 

NEP4DISSENT undertook both conceptual and practical activities to design more effective ways of incorporating knowledge about the material and intellectual legacy of cultural dissent in art and cultural heritage initiatives. The Action promoted dialogue about critical exhibition history of the socialist Europe, and about ethical questions involved in displaying difficult pasts, incl. state-security materials. The practical realisation of these debates is the virtual exhibit Underground, that brought together researchers, curators, and digital storytelling experts.

To increase its impact, the Action actively cooperated with EU research infrastructures such as OPERAS and DARIAH-EU, other COST Actions such as Distant Reading,  and served as a intermediary and communication platform for project partners such as Hidden Galleries, COURAGE, Impresso, and DISSINVENT. The Action networking  also contributed to the emergence of numerous new projects that carry further its agenda, including ÉMIGRÉ EUROPE. Civil Engagement Transfers between Eastern Europe and the Low Countries, 1933-1989 (2021-2023), and Resonances: Regional and Transregional Cultural Transfer in the Art of the 1970s (2021-2024).

Shortly before the end of the Action, as Russia invaded Ukraine, NEP4DISSENT made its final contribution to sustaining the research capacity of young Ukrainian scholars researching and documenting dissent and protest in Ukraine, historically and in contemporary times, by setting up a dedicated grant scheme and connecting givers and takers of support through #ScienceForUkraine initiative.

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