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Interview: with Muriel Blaive (not only) about the importance of asking the right questions

Interview: with Muriel Blaive (not only) about the importance of asking the right questions

In tumultuous times, achieving peace and quiet is often associated with identifying the “truth”. There certainly may be authoritative narratives or canonical discourses that, in many cases, represent some “official” or “generally accepted” truths – the question however remains to what degree these really fit, as some kind of ideal interpretations, everyone. In contrast to that, we have each human being´s own account – his or her unique report about their own perception of the world and all the circumstances that have formed their life.


Having said this, I am very happy that, in the following interview, we most probably succeeded reconciling both: an own account of a French-origin social scientist, who, also thanks to her talent for listening to people´s stories, was able to formulate views on (not only) our, Czechoslovak, past that I consider well-balanced, genuine and full of understanding. But now, let already Muriel Blaive herself explain in more detail why she, among other things, holds the ability to identify, formulate and pose the right questions as one of the basic prerequisites for a successful – i.e. honest and scientifically rigorous – research; thus also for the understanding of the researched.

Dear Muriel, let us introduce you to our readers through your work. This said, it is namely the methodology of your research that is one of the things that interest me. But before we look at it, could you please tell us more about what exactly you researched in the Czech Republic or the Central European region?


I have worked on three main topics: the year 1956 in Czechoslovakia and why nothing happened here as opposed to Poland and Hungary – which led me to explore the whole 1945-1956 period; an oral history, border study, and everyday life history of the little town of České Velenice at the border to Austria (with a parallel project on the town of Komárno in Slovakia at the border to Hungary); and the policy of dealing with the communist past in the Czech Republic since 1989. I have also led a number of smaller related projects, for instance on the expulsion of the Sudeten Germans, national identity in Czechia, the Slánský trial, Charter 77, dissent, nostalgia for communism, musealizing the communist period, and even childbirth as a social and medical practice under communism and post-communism.


Regarding the methodology aspect in the specific case of your work: what procedure and approach did you choose when researching your scientific topics? After all, your research was about only a relatively recent past, i.e. have you completed, for example, conversations with witnesses, direct participants, etc.?


When I started out with my work on 1956 in Czechoslovakia, I was writing my PhD at Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) in Paris, which I knew was an excellent graduate school, the best in France, but I hadn’t fully appreciated the extent to which it had revolutionized social sciences in the twentieth century. It was the intellectual home of Marc Bloch, Michel Foucault, Pierre Bourdieu and a myriad other brilliant historians and social scientists. It is difficult to summarize in a few words what it brought, but I would say, anticipating on the difficulties I later experienced in the Czech Republic, that it equipped me with several assumptions which I didn’t realize were not fully developed elsewhere, not even in other areas of the French intellectual landscape, let alone in post-communist countries – although to be fair, I have occasionally met Russian social scientists from the middle of Siberia who were perfectly conversant in the most advanced French social sciences, so, everything is possible; I can only say that this was not my everyday experience in Czechia in the 1990s.


Bear with me here because what I am about to say might sound arrogant, indeed might resonate like the story of a self-appointed, would-be “civilized” social scientist from Paris going to visit the “uncivilized savages” in Prague, but I hope that as I expand on my story, it will become clear that this is not my vision at all. First of all, I am at least as critical of France as I am of Czechia, as I will show further down, and second, I am talking about a moment which is irremediably in the past. EHESS is not at all anymore what it used to be.


It remains that among the basics I was taught in Paris, I learned that historical phenomena are more important than personal and collective identities. Also, disciplinary barriers were irrelevant – it was completely equal to us if a colleague was a historian, sociologist, anthropologist, political scientist, philosopher, legal scholar, or anything else: what mattered was the new knowledge they brought, not any feeling of superiority and esprit de corps against other disciplines. For years, I didn’t even know what to answer when I was asked what my discipline was: was I a historian, political scientist, sociologist, or anthropologist? I realized that other people seemed to take the answer very seriously, so I decided to present myself as a historian. But I still don’t believe it actually matters – what matters is that we study the past to understand how it determines the present in our societies, we bring context. At EHESS, even the topic people worked on was not crucial: one could learn something useful about methodology from research led in Africa, Asia, or Latin America. Indeed, every element of knowledge can and must be deconstructed, nothing must be taken for granted, nothing is sacred, not even authority and hierarchy – especially not authority and hierarchy.


So, again, the issues at stake, the big historical questions, are more important than petty details. To know if Czech society was supportive of communism over the decades is more important than to know if the Plzeň revolt happened on 1 or 2 June 1953. What does matter is that such a rebellion happened at all, and that it happened as a consequence of the currency reform, within a given context of shortages and political repression. I always have to laugh when my Czech colleagues invalidate a book, even a brilliant and revolutionary book, if only one irrelevant detail is out of place. In my case, one such historian read my book on 1956 and told me, “Muriel, you are wrong!” I was instantly discouraged; my eight-year long research about Czech society and its cautious support for the Stalinist regime as long as its standard of living was bearable was not valid after all…? “The Polish Communist Party was in fact called the Polish Unified Workers’ Party!”, they continued. I was relieved! Of course, if I were writing an article about the exact denomination of the Polish communist party and how its name has resonated with a particular historical development, then it would be crucial to analyze its exact name. Or to take another example, when we use the word “totalitarianism” we must know exactly what we mean, and I have written countless articles on this one concept. But in the matter at hand, it really didn’t make any difference to me, and certainly did not invalidate my book.


To establish a hierarchy of information is of course the most difficult task. Some factual details might not be very important, but methodology is absolutely crucial because the way the historian asks the question largely determines the answer. For instance, the way Paměť národa leads some of its oral history interviews seems almost caricatural to me. If you ask someone to tell you how they suffered under communism, they will not only tell you how they suffered under communism, but from this point on they will also tell everyone, forever, how they suffered under communism – whereas you would have elicited a very different answer had you simply asked: “Tell me how you experienced the communist period” and left space for what they might have appreciated under communism, i.e. for what they might miss today. This is the whole difference between denying that nostalgia even exists and analyzing a genuinely existing nostalgia. The question elicits the answer, so it is crucial to reflect long and hard on the way to pose the question. My work on 1956 was actually almost all about asking the right question: instead of documenting, like all the other historians, how the Czechoslovaks had suffered, I asked how popular the communist regime might have actually been; the question immediately had different implications. To ask the right question is the most difficult task in any research, and when one has managed to define it, one already has half of the answer. It is all the more important that the past and the present are in constant interaction. The present explains the past as much as the past explains the present; politics is everywhere. There is nothing like a pure historical truth since the “historical truth” evolves at the same tempo as the society in which it is constantly defined and redefined.


Another contextual element in my intellectual development was that nationalism was for us an ideology of the past and belonged only to the racists and to the extreme right. My whole generation was thoroughly ashamed of nationalism, to the point that we would shout in protest if we ever saw a French flag in the street. We tolerated to hear the Marseillaise only if a French sportsperson was standing on the podium; if anyone else randomly sang it for no reason, we would tell them to shut up. This has largely changed now, and I attribute this evolution to 1998 and the French victory at the football World Cup: all at once, there was such a flurry of popular happiness at the French victory that to sing the Marseillaise and wave the French flag became acceptable, synonymous not of a nationalistic display but of a display of shared patriotism. In fact, it even came to symbolize the now evidently successful integration of generations of immigrants, since many of the French players were sons of immigrants and others were dark-skinned or black because they came from the French islands, mainly Guadeloupe and Martinique. Despite this positive change, I hold nationalism in deep dislike, not only in France but everywhere – including in the small countries of Central Europe. If one is to exert critical mind, then it applies to oneself, one’s country, and one’s culture, but also to all other individuals, countries, and cultures.


Another foundational principle of my education at EHESS was that human rights, justice (including social justice), and an ethical behavior were absolute givens. Intellectual curiosity, originality, open-mindedness to the world, benevolence, and kindness, but also intellectual rigorousness, courage, and honesty were qualities generally considered to be necessary for the work of researcher. I had no idea back then that these were considered left-wing values in other parts of the world – to me, this was just part of being “normal.” But it also explains why the Czech dissidents, Havel, Vaculík, and Pithart in particular, resonated so strongly with me. What took me some time to understand is that Havel and the dissidents were not very representative of Czechoslovak society, in the exact same way as the Prague anticommunist microcosm today is in fact not very representative of Czech society.


I would add a personal element of biography that greatly mattered: at the age of 16-17 I had spent one year and three months in the US, in a small town in the middle of Texas, as an exchange high-school student. Not only did I now speak fluent English, but I was acutely aware that France was not the center of the universe, and that the US was wonderfully pragmatic, energetic, and open-minded in a way no country I knew in Europe was, except perhaps the UK. Another biographical element is that my PhD supervisor, Krzysztof Pomian, was uncompromising in three regards: intellectual rigorousness, cosmopolitanism in the best sense, and brutal honesty. For better or for worse, I learned from him to go straight to the point and not to pretend to appreciate people or ideas I was critical of. Hypocrisy or even diplomacy were not part of my curriculum.


And finally, an element of context was crucial: France was both a relatively big country on the European scale and a long-established democracy, which means that social sciences were advanced, had attained a critical size, and were diverse, in some regards at least. Incidentally, the moment when I left Paris more or less coincided with the moment it lost its intellectual edge, and the US took over. To find again the level of intellectual conversation I enjoyed as a student, I now have to turn to the New School for Social Research in New York, for instance, or other such places. In any case, intellectual debate at the turn of the 1990s in France was held not in small chambers but among thousands of people, a circumstance which structurally commandeered a certain level of openness and tolerance, as well as great intellectual emulation.


I didn’t even know it myself, but I was spoiled. This is why I experienced a tremendous cultural shock when I moved to Prague in 1992 and discovered the minuscule, petty, parochial, small-minded, nationalistic, racist, and sexist corporation of Czech contemporary historians as they appeared to me at the time. I could think of only one word to describe them: communist. They might not all have been party members, in fact many of them had opposed the communist regime, but this greyness, conformity, fussiness, obsession with insignificant details, complete inability to formulate research questions or even ideas of general interest, in other words to reflect in an abstract way, was for me the embodiment of what I called to myself the “communist mentality.”


Later, I came to see I was somewhat unjust. First of all, this mentality came straight down from the petty nationalism of the nineteenth century, not from communism – although communism didn’t help. Second, some historians were not only very erudite (which is a quality I don’t possess, and which doesn’t overly impress me, but still) but they were also far from uninteresting. Even later, I discovered that a few were in fact courageous and intellectually honest. And those who were more original and nicer on the personal level were naturally pushed to the background, so I did not notice them at first. Some were shy because under communism they hadn’t learned to thrive in public, which they can hardly be blamed for. So, in the end, I got to greatly value some individuals and to have the honor to enjoy their friendship. It was their collective, corporate, rejection of anyone foreign, especially a young woman, that gave me this dismal impression at first.


The fact remains that their books were even more boring than these male grey eminences themselves were. I remember very well the excitement I had experienced at the Sciences Po library when I first opened the Lieux de mémoire of Pierre Nora, or the “End of history” by Francis Fukuyama. These were smart and thought-provoking pieces – you couldn’t stop reading and thinking about it. Now I had found the exact counterpart, the ultimate bore. To spend time in the library of the Institute of Contemporary History was beyond tedious. However, I soon discovered I derived much greater pleasure, and learned infinitely more, from chatting with the librarian than from my readings. I could not read more than a page without falling asleep, but I could listen to paní Poláková for hours. I had discovered oral history, and realized I much preferred the contact of ordinary people to that of people who thought of themselves as the intellectual elite.


I also discovered in due time that most Czechs, including the wider public and artists, but also other social scientists, journalists, art historians, and historians of older periods, are much more open-minded than contemporary historians. This was another cultural misunderstanding. In France, I imagined as a contemporary historian somebody like Henry Rousso, whose counterpart in Czechia would be someone like Petr Pithart: one might not agree with every word, but they ask good questions, present interesting theses, are capable of reflecting both on individual trajectories and national qualities, of putting things in context and of varying the angles of approach. Both are brilliant minds, and this is exactly what I expect from a historian. But in the Czech Republic, this kind of personalities are generally to be found not among contemporary historians, but among public intellectuals, thinkers who are all at once philosophers, historians, political scientists, who are good at thinking outside the box and contextualizing. I am thinking of personalities like Jan Sokol or Václav Bělohradský, or, to take younger examples, of Milena Bartlová, Saša Uhlová, or Pavel Karous.


In Czech culture, contemporary historians of the Academy of Sciences are not expected to be brilliant intellectuals but the guardians of national identity. They define what a Czech citizen should be and what he or she is supposed to think about the past and therefore about the present. I could not find this more uninteresting intellectually speaking. Of course there are exceptions, but the fact that many colleagues are inordinately proud of this role just makes me despair. It certainly leaves no space for a foreigner who wants to live among them, as one of them, as I naively did. Just imagine, in the 32 years that I have worked on Czech history and have been active in Prague, and despite dozens of publications, I have not been invited once to present my work in the research seminar of the Institute of Contemporary History. Not once. It’s incredible. Surely, I’m not as bad as that. But the message is rather clear: leave Czech history to Czech historians.


The situation improved overtime, but I am less optimistic than I was 15 years ago. When a new generation of historians who were linguistically apt, cognizant of the world, and smart emancipated themselves from this closeted cesspool, it looked as if institutional history was finally turning the corner. Alas, their growing power and influence has exerted the same effect on them as it did on their elders: ambitious rivalry, petty jealousy, and parochialism remain the guiding principles to this day in academic history. To love Czech history is more often than not a thankless task for a foreigner, at least if this foreigner has any desire to obtain a job in the Czech Republic – of course, it’s easy enough for Czech colleagues to be nice to foreigners who already have a job elsewhere and are not staying longer than a couple of weeks to do some research in the archives. When they are not perceived as a threat or as competition, foreigners are accepted readily enough. Interestingly, I was probably better treated in this respect at the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes (ÚSTR), where the main objection to my work was not that I was a foreigner and “couldn’t understand”, but rather that I was a leftist – or so my critics thought. Despite all my problems with ÚSTR, and I had many, this is an aspect I am genuinely grateful for. Many historians there, or those who pose as historians anyway, might be motivated by objectionable political beliefs, but they are not as arrogant intellectually speaking as other historians sometimes are.


Anyway, coming from the “West”, countries like France, Britain, and the US where foreigners are legion in research and high education, for the good reason that they are recruited for their research qualities rather than for their nationality, this adamant refusal to integrate me in the Czech academic landscape was a tremendous cultural shock and disappointment for me. As my PhD supervisor, Krzysztof Pomian, told me, “Muriel, if you had been welcomed in Prague like I was in Paris, you would long be a Czech academic, in the same way I became a French academic.”


Thank goodness, there is still Charles University and the other universities, and there are other disciplines than contemporary history, which are also concerned with the past but are much more open-minded: anthropology, sociology, political science, literature, law, philosophy, etc. There I have found both brilliant minds and welcoming colleagues.


Indeed, Bohemia is a relatively small country that is exposed to larger geopolitical interests. Subsequently, this is, to a greater or lesser extent, reflected on many practical levels. Humanities are certainly more sensitive to this than exact sciences. History, as a tool of how we look at, and perceive, our present times, is a typical example of this sensitivity. In this context, did you feel any pressure on your work (an effort to influence its outputs in one way or another, modify them, have them “cleared” for publishing, “censored”, etc.)?


Yes, I have felt both direct and indirect pressure. But before I get to this, let me add a footnote to the “Bohemia is a small country” trope: I have had close contact to Hungarians, too. I used to speak Hungarian the same way I speak Czech, although I have largely forgotten it by now as I haven’t practiced enough in the past twenty years. I also spent a couple of years in Budapest in the 1990s. Even though the country has the same size, approximately ten million, the attitude to foreign researchers is very different. Hungarian historians are very welcoming, praiseful, positive, or at least they were in the 1990s and 2000s. There I was offered a job, for instance. It’s true that I haven’t lived there for a very long time, so I had less opportunities to get angry or disappointed. But at least in the 1990s, Hungarians were much more open-minded to Western social sciences and Westerners than Czechs and Slovaks. There, even as a French, i.e. even despite Trianon of which I was reminded of on a daily basis and not always as a joke, I was not treated as a suspicious quantity but made to feel welcome. I imagine that the atmosphere must have changed a lot with Orbán, but Hungarians keep a very special place in my heart.


Since 2005 I have lived in another small country, in fact smaller than Czechia: Austria. Austria has the same culture, for obvious reasons. Yet even in small Austria, and even though I don’t really speak the language as opposed to here, I was repeatedly offered jobs and fellowships. So even “small countries” can be open-minded; there really is no excuse for the Czech historical jingoism.


Now to go back to your question, I mentioned before that historians bear the responsibility of building national identity in this country. I am not interested in this function, for one thing because I am not Czech but even more importantly because I can’t stand for anyone to dictate to me the frame in which to write, or even worse, to think, even implicitly. I am not writing to please the public or the former dissidents but to do the best job I can, even if it means offending people. Yet even the French living in Prague, for instance the successive directors of the French Center for Research in Social Sciences (CEFRES) where I was hosted for many years shared the belief that we, as foreign guests, must not offend the Czechs, that we must not say anything that would be unpopular – so I should be careful to present my analysis about 1956 in a way that might not be construed as a criticism of Czech society. I could never understand this, and I have certainly never abided by it. I even tend to think this is a form of inverted orientalism. Do we really think Czechs are so weak they can’t take any criticism? I most certainly don’t. I have complete faith in the Czech nation’s collective ability to handle criticism. And I have done enough oral history interviews to know that the wider public is eagerly criticizing its own elites. I don’t think Czechs need to be treated with any special caution, they belong to the Western tradition of critique.


What makes me roll my eyes, on the other hand, is readers who occasionally answer, indignant, to whatever criticism I have brought, for instance in my numerous articles in Britské listy: “Would you dare criticizing the French president (or French history, or anything French) the way you criticize us Czechs? Of course not! So, respect us.” This is where I am sorry to say that some Czechs still live in the nineteenth century. Not only would I “dare” to criticize the French president or French history, but I take special pleasure in it, and this special pleasure was dutifully taught to me by the French school system itself. This is what the critical mind and democracy are about. Nationalism really is a hindrance to intellectual development. Again, I am allergic to all ideologies, but to nationalism more than any other.


To finish answering your question, yes, I have done many oral history interviews, either about 1956, about nostalgia and the policy of dealing with the past, about life at the foot of the Iron Curtain, and today about how to write about the communist past. This has been fascinating. This is the part of Czech culture that I truly love and feel close to. I can appropriate people’s answers, I can understand why they acted the way they did or how they think, most of them anyway. The complex character of everyday life, be it under a dictatorship or in the post-1989 transitional regime, is something that really resonates with me.


What time or episode from your (not necessarily research-only-motivated) stay in the Czech Republic do you come back to in your memory with the greatest joy? And to what with, say, rather mixed feelings?


In general, I loved the 1990s in Prague. The awakening of Czech civic society was a truly delightful phenomenon to observe. What was unthinkable one year became the norm the following year. I had to laugh because the process was so much faster than in France. For instance, post-office employees were horrible, arrogant, careless, grey “communist” people, and next time you stopped by, they had been replaced by kind old ladies who dreamed of nothing else but to please the customer. Within fifteen years, the whole administration had completely changed its culture of dealing with the public, which I would not have guessed was even humanely possible. What Czech society put up with in the years after 1989 is absolutely amazing.


Moreover, there was a bustling energy in the 1990s, hope and an entrepreneurial spirit, the notion that anything was possible if people put their heart to it. I had vague memories of such optimism as a child in the 1970s but the 1980s had been so tough in France (the after-effects of the 1970s’ oil crises) that it was a genuine relief to see people who still had some optimism about the future and believed in themselves. Intellectual debates were blossoming. I loved the atmosphere at the redaction of Nová přítomnost, for instance. But I loved even the journals I disagreed with, for instance Respekt, because at least there was a debate, there were things to discuss and disagree about. Also, the standard of living visibly grew in Prague, which is always a pleasure to experience. This might not have been true everywhere in the country, but I didn’t see it and was not fully aware of it. Of course, even in Prague this changed after the 2008 economic crisis. Things were never the same again. But I am grateful I got to experience in my youth a historical period in which people believed the future can be even better than an already positive present.


What I did have mixed feelings about, as you put it, is the level of racism, which was truly shocking to me. Again, beware, I am not pretending to speak from a would-be enlightened point of view, and I am not judgmental about it. There is nothing inherently Czech about racism, it is purely a question of teaching societies to be tolerant of other cultures and other races and skin colors – again, Austria used to be just as close-minded as Czechia but was exposed to mass immigration decades before Czech society and beautifully learned to cope with it. But heavens – forgive me for saying this, but coming from Paris, which holds all skin colors and more, it was really tough for me to be confronted to such racism. In fact, in the end I moved to Vienna precisely because I couldn’t bear the ambient racism and xenophobia in Prague anymore.


What worries me is that tolerance is a luxury. It’s easy enough to learn to live with people with other skin colors and be anti-racist when everybody has a job, the economic situation is improving for everyone, and the future looks promising, as was the case in Western Europe in the 1950s and 1960s – I pass here on the rather unpleasant reality that such felicity was predicated on exploiting colonies and post-colonial states. In any case, it is quite another story when societies are not doing well, individuals are having a hard time to scrape a living, and jobs are scarce. In this sense, instead of Central Europe learning to be “modern” as we (perhaps a bit condescendingly) thought of it at the time, and becoming less racist, what we are seeing is rather Western Europe becoming less and less tolerant and regressing back to very close-minded attitudes and a level of racism that was unthinkable in the 1990s – or at least was not permitted in the open space. Progress is not linear.


What are your current priorities, subject of interest or immediate plans for your further research or activity in the Czech (or possibly Central European) area? What are you, in general, planning for the future?


In the near future I am planning to finish my book about dealing with the communist past in the Czech Republic, then I will apply for more research grants, but of course you can never have any guarantee of success. In effect, one of the strong possibilities is that I will have to leave academia. The irony of my life is that I cannot get a job in Prague as a historian because “I am not Czech” so I “cannot know anything about Czech history”, as I am often told, but at the same time I cannot get a job in France because, well, also the French are provincial and small-minded in their geopolitical perceptions – on a different scale because the country is bigger, but the principle is the same: the French perceive Central Europe as not very interesting and can’t even place Czechia on a map, when they remember at all that Czechoslovakia doesn’t exist anymore.


If you think I am being caricatural, let me tell you that in March 2024, a former Education and Research Minister in France, university professor Luc Ferry, blithely explained on French-speaking Swiss TV that the “six Baltic countries” were against entering NATO and gave as a proof the example of Montenegro and Serbia (!) French-German green activist Daniel Cohn-Bendit indignantly replied that there were not six Baltic countries, but four (help…!), although also he seemed quite incapable of naming any of them, but he at least knew that they already were in NATO. The Swiss presenter was so confused he wasn’t sure what to say. So you see, I am not exaggerating, and when someone is writing about “one of these small nations somewhere in the East that no one cares about”, when, indeed, my potential employer doesn’t know what the difference is between the Balkans and the Baltics, there is no chance in the world I would get a job over someone who has a research project about a trendy topic the French feel concerned about.


It is of course also my fault because I was not very interested in teaching on a wide, vague topic (“European history”, “Political systems”, or something of the sort) in order to get a job, even though I knew full well that no one in France would want to employ someone to teach a course about Czech history in the twentieth century. Also, I wasn’t interested in moving back to France, I enjoyed too much living in Central Europe, which is a cardinal mistake: to get a job, one doesn’t have to be competent on one’s topic, one has to be there in person and network for oneself. I wanted to be in Prague, but Czech historians don’t value my efforts; then I wanted to be in Paris, but the French are not interested in Czech history. After more than thirty years of this back-and-forth denial of either my identity or my professional value, I think I am now reaching the endpoint of this conundrum. Frankly, I am tired of having to justify myself wherever I go.


So, I retrained as a middle-school and high-school English teacher and am fully certified in France, and this is what I will probably, or possibly, do. I would prefer to continue as a historian, but I will do this if I have to. I like teaching, and I am not displeased to do a job that has some concrete utility. I have had the incredible luck to do in almost complete freedom a job I remain passionate about after 32 years. And I find some poetic irony in “going back to the working class” as the Communists would have it. Indeed, beginning teachers in France get the minimum salary, from which they can barely scrape a living these days. But one thing I have become frankly allergic to is Western academics who endlessly complain, in an obscene disregard of what a large part of the population is going through, about their salary or future pension and how it does not match their high expectation of their own value. Well, now I will have the lowest possible salary and pension, if I even live until then, and in a way, I find this comforting.

Thank you very much for the interview!

Muriel Blaive is a socio-political historian of the communist and post-communist period in Czechoslovakia/Czechia in its Central European context. She is a graduate of Sciences Po Paris and of Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris. She is currently an Elise Richter Fellow at the Department of Sociology, University of Graz.

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