Wilson Center Experts

Vladimir Tismaneanu

Jaharis Research Scholar
Global Europe Program

Expertise:
Europe
Affiliation:
Professor, Department of Government and Politics, University of Maryland, College Park
Wilson Center Project(s):
"Democracy and Memory: Romania Confronts Its Communist Past"
Term:
May 01, 2005
-
Aug 01, 2005

I am a Professor of politics and Director of the Center for the Study of Post-communist Societies at University of Maryland (College Park), President of the Presidential Commission for the Analysis of the Communist Dictatorship in Romania (April 2006–March 2007), and since April 2007, Chairman of the Presidential Consultative Commission for the Analysis of the Communist Dictatorship in Romania. I left communist Romania in 1981. In 1982 I settled in the US, where, in 1983, I joined the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia as a research associate and a contributing editor to ORBIS. Between 1985 and 1990, I taught at the University of Pennsylvania. Since 1990 I have been teaching at University of Maryland, Department of Government and Politics. In 2003, I received the University of Maryland Distinguished Scholar-Teacher Award. In 2007, the university granted me the Distinguished International Service Award. I received from the American Association for Political Science a certificate of exceptional achievement for my teaching career. In 2004, my book, Stalinism for All Seasons was granted the "Barbara Jelavich Award" by the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies (AAASS). I was Editor (1998-2004) and currently am chair of the Editorial Committee of East European Politics and Societies. I am also a member of the editorial boards of Human Rights Review, Studia Politica, and Journal of Democracy. For more than two decades I have been a permanent collaborator of Radio Free Europa, Voice of America, Deutsche Welle and BBC. I was a Research Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center (Washington, DC), and received fellowships from the Remarque Institute (New York University), National Endowment for Democracy, Institute for the Sciences of Man (IWM-Viena). I was an editor of dissident magazines AGORA (1986-1990) and Meridian (1991-1992). I am Doctor Honoris Causa of Universitatea de Vest from Timisoara (2002) and of the National School for Polical Science (2003). Among my publications in English are: The Crisis of Marxist Ideology in Eastern Europe: the Poverty of Utopia (Routledge, 1988); Reinventing Politics: Eastern Europe from Stalin to Havel (Free Press, 1992, paperback with a new epilogue, 1993); Fantasies of Salvation: Nationalism, Democracy, and Myth in Post-communist Europe (Princeton UP, 1998); Stalinism for All Seasons: a Political History of Romanian Communism (University of California Press, 2003). I am also the author of numerous books in Romanian. I edited The Revolutions of 1989 (Routledge,1999) and co-edited the volume Between Past and Future:The Revolutions of 1989 and Their Aftermath (1999). In collaboration with Marc Howard and Rudra Sil, I edited World Order After Leninism (2006). I am co-author to The Great Shock at the End of a Short Century (2005), a book of dialogues with the three-time president of Romania,Ion Iliescu. I am currently working on several books dealing with revolutionary political religions, the ideological passions of 20th century, and the relationship between democracy and memory.I write a weekly column for the influential Romanian daily Evenimentul Zilei.
 

Education

Ph.D. (1980) University of Bucharest, with thesis on "Revolution and Critical Reason: The Frankfurt School and Left-wing Radicalism"
 

Experience

  • Professor, University of Maryland, Government and Politics, since 1990
  • Chair, Presidential Commission for the Analysis of the Communist Dictatorship in Romania
  • Director, Center for the Study of Post-communist Societies, University of
    Maryland, since 1998
  • Editor, East European Politics and Societies, 1998-2004; Chair, Editorial Committee (2004-08)
  • Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Research Institute, Philadelphia, 1983-1994

Expertise

East European communist and post-communist politics and societies; democracy, memory and moral justice in post-authoritarian societies; Soviet and Post-Soviet politics; nationalism; civil society; threats to liberalism in post-Cold War Europe; the revolutions of 1989 and their aftermath

Project Summary

All post-communist societies face major dilemmas in assuming their traumatic past. A functional democracy cannot be based on lies, denial, and amnesia. Romania's exit from communism has resulted in a hybrid quasi-democratic regime, with former communists maintaining influential positions and opposing a genuine break with the past. In 2006, president Traian Basescu established a Presidential Commission for the analysis of the communist dictatorship in Romania. Based on my academic record of books and studies on Romanian and East-Central European communism I was selected to serve as chair and coordinator of the Commission. The Commission put together a Final Report which was the basis for President Basescu to condemn the communist dictatorship as "illegitimate and criminal". Offering a comparative perspective, the book I intend to write will focus on: (a) the debates that led to the creation of the Commission; (b) the Commission's activity and the fierce attacks from nationalist, fascist, and communist circles; (3) the impact of moral justice on Romania's democratic political culture.

Major Publications

  • Reinventing Politics: Eastern Europe from Stalin to Havel, New York: Free Press, 2003.
  • Fantasies of Salvation: Democracy, Nationalism, and Myth in Post-communist Europe, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998.
  • Stalinism for All Seasons: A Political History of Romanian Communism, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003.

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