States and Societies in Central and Eastern Europe

Relations between Central and Eastern Europe have traditionally been close, but also particularly volatile – not least because of legacies of empire, violence, and occupation. IGES researchers affiliated with this strand examine how transformations, state-building and state collapse have shaped societies and how the past continues to structure contemporary politics.

Affiliated IGES scholars

Dr Jonathan Gumz is a Reader in International History, whose intellectual interests focus on Modern Central and Eastern Europe, modern international history, global insurgency and counterinsurgency, as well as international law and the regulation of war.

Dr Tim Haughton is a Reader in European Politics with a particular interest in electoral and party politics, electoral campaigning, the relationship between politics and government, the interaction between domestic and European sources of change, the relationship between Britain and the EU, the role of the past in the politics of the present and the domestic politics of Slovakia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic.

Prof Sara Jones is Professor in the Department of Modern Languages. Her current research analyses the political, social and cultural processes of remembering state socialist dictatorship.

Dr Deema Kaneff is a Reader in Social Anthropology with specific interest in Bulgaria and Ukraine. Her research is based on carrying out ethnographic fieldwork in particular rural and urban sites in for protracted periods of time (amounting to a number of years).

Dr Anca Mandru is a Research Fellow interested in pre-World War Two socialism and nationalism, cultural history and the history of science, whose research focuses on Eastern Europe, particularly Romania. 

Dr Jasmin Nithammer is a Research Fellow whose work focuses on the international, social, and economic history of interwar and postwar East Central Europe (especially Poland).

Dr Julian Pänke is a Lecturer in European Politics who is interested in comparative foreign policy analysis, in German and East Central European politics, the impact of history on foreign policy making and specifically how tensions between nation- and empire building shape a state’s external behaviour.

Dr Klaus Richter is a Birmingham Fellow and Reader in Eastern European History whose main field of research is the social history of modern Poland, the Baltics and Russia, with special interest in issues such as nationalism, ethnic conflict and concepts of political economy and statehood.

Dr Graham Timmins is a Reader in International Politics, who is a specialist on European integration with a particular focus on the external relations and foreign policy role of the European Union.

Dr Tara Talwar Windsor is a cultural and literary historian of modern Germany and Europe, currently working as Research Fellow on the project ‘Knowing the Secret Police: Secrecy and Knowledge in East German Society’.

Current projects

The Liminality of Failing Democracy: East Central Europe and the Interwar Slump, Gerda-Henkel-Stiftung, 2021-2024 (Principal Investigator Klaus Richter, Research Fellows Anca Mandru and Jasmin Nithammer)

Knowing the Secret Police: Secrecy and Knowledge in East German Society, Arts and Humanities Research Council, 2018-2021 (Co-Investigator Sara Jones, Research Fellow Tara Talwar Windsor)

The Fight against the Traffic in Women and Children in Interwar Poland, Fritz-Thyssen-Stiftung, 2018-2021 (Principal Investigator Klaus Richter, Research Fellow Jasmin Nithammer)

Hinterlands and Hypertrophies. Assessments of the “Viability” of Empires and Nation-States in Central and Eastern Europe, 1900 – 1930's, Arts and Humanities Research Council, 2017-2020 (Principal investigator Klaus Richter, Co-Investigator Jonathan Gumz)

Recent publications (selection)

Deema Kaneff, The market is far away': Global connections and economic remoteness in rural Ukraine. Europe-Asia Studies, 73, 3 (2021): 451-71.

Timothy Haughton and Kevan Deegan-Krause, The new party challenge: Changing cycles of party birth and death in Central Europe and beyond (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020).

Klaus Richter, Fragmentation in East Central Europe: Poland and the Baltics, 1915-1929 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020).

Timothy Haughton and David Cutts, Winning votes and influencing people: Campaigning in Central and Eastern Europe, East European Politics, 2020.

Julian Pänke, Liberal Empire, Geopolitics and EU Strategy: Norms and Interests in European Foreign Policy Making, Geopolitics, 24:1 (2019), 100–123.

Jasmin Nithammer, Grenzen des Sozialismus zu Land und zu Wasser. Die tschechoslowakische Landgrenze und polnische Seegrenze im Vergleich (Marburg: Verlag Herder-Institut, 2019).

Jonathan Gumz and John Deak, How to break a state: the Habsburg Monarchy's internal war. The American Historical Review, 122:4 (2017): 1105–1136.


Learn more about the other strands in the IGES research profile