PanEur1970s team member Aleksandra Komornicka and EUI PhD researcher Saša Vejzagić convened the conference “Reforming Socialism: Aims and Efforts before and after 1968”, which took place on 25–27 October 2018 at the EUI, Florence.
They selected an academic cohort of seventeen presenters, whose papers spanned a broad chronological, geographic, and thematic approach to economic reforms in the socialist camp, including cases from socialist states in Europe, China, and Western communist parties.
Predominantly focused on the 1960s and 1980s, papers shed light on relations between reforms and class, gender, theory, foreign trade and political establishment. Within those frames they touched upon a wide range of desired reform targets and effects, from general macroeconomic trends to specific developments in branches of industries and among actors, such as workers, managements, elites or experts. This diverse range of topics and approaches resulted in a more transnational and multilayered illustration of the reforms, which will pave the ground for further research.
The conference debate was enriched by two keynote lectures given by leading scholars in the field. Silvio Pons (Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa) provided a vast overview of reforms phenomenon stressing the importance of global trends and international influences. Janos Kovacs (Institute of Human Sciences, Vienna) focused on socialist economy as a discipline and its practitioners in Eastern Europe, highlighting the need to deepen our knowledge and understanding of the evolution of socialist economic thought.
The event was organized thanks to the generous support of the Department of History and Civilization of the European University Institute, the President’s office of the European University Institute, the Robert Schuman Centre for advanced studies, the Historical Archives of the European Union and the PanEur1970s research project.
Taking stock of the overall excellent academic discussion, Aleksandra Komornicka and Saša Vejzagić will edit a special issue on Reforming Socialism, which will bring together in a coherent interpretative framework the most advanced research findings presented at the conference.