Radka Šustrová: Historicizing Social Justice: Labour, Rights and Power in 20th-century Central Europe

Arts 250
Wednesday 24 April 2024 (11:00-13:00)

A commitment to social justice and the promise of social equality have been a permanent feature of both democratic and dictatorial regimes in 20th-century Europe. Scholars have discussed the nonviolent dimensions of governance in state-socialist dictatorships, including the social welfare and social policy practices of National Socialist rule in German and non-German territories.

Similarly, research on Western democracies has moved beyond traditional welfare state history to examine welfare institutions and welfare rights and entitlements as crucial means of constructing a democratic consensus. This talk goes further and explores the notion of social justice among workers in Austria and Czechoslovakia from 1930s to 1980s. It takes a perspective from below and focuses on workers’ quest for social justice in the workplace.

The presentation will be based on ongoing research project titled ‘Workers’ Agency and Social Justice in the Age of Authoritarianism: Austria and Czechoslovakia, 1938–1989’. Klaus Richter (Birmingham) will provide a commentary.

Radka Šustrová is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action Fellow at the University of Vienna. She studied history and political science in Prague and Berlin. Since 2018, she has been a lecturer in Social History at Charles University in Prague. Her research focuses on the history of the welfare state, social justice, social and labour rights, women’s activism, and nationalism in 20th-century central Europe. From 2020 to 2022, she was a British Academy Newton International Fellow and supervisor in history at the University of Cambridge and Christ’s College. Her recent publication is Nations Apart: Czech Nationalism and Authoritarian Welfare under Nazi Rule, published by OUP in 2024.

This event is co-hosted by the Institute for German and European Studies (IGES) and the Centre for Russian, European and Eurasian Studies (CREES).