This paper firstly analyses why whiteness studies have been slow to be used by scholars of Eastern Europe, and why the global rise of populism and issues of migration both out of and into Eastern Europe have brought questions of “whiteness” and its “defence” into the public language of the region. It will then explore how whiteness has been fundamental to the very conception of the region through an examination of the ways in which Eastern Europeans have thought about white privilege and fragility – across the twentieth century and beyond.
James Mark is Professor of History at the University of Exeter. He is the author of The Unfinished Revolution: Making Sense of the Communist Past in Central-Eastern Europe (2010), which was nominated for the Longman History Today Book Prize 2011 and selected as one of the ‘best books of 2011’ by Foreign Affairs. He is co-author of Europe’s 1968: Voices of Revolt (2013) and 1989: A Global History of Eastern Europe (2019), and co-editor of Secret Agents and the Memory of Everyday Collaboration in Communist Eastern Europe (2017) and Alternative Encounters: Eastern Europe and the Postcolonial World (2020). He is Principal Investigator on three research projects: ‘1989 after 1989: Rethinking the Fall of State Socialism in Global Perspective’ (2014-19); ‘Socialism Goes Global: Cold War Connections Between the ‘Second’ and ‘Third Worlds” (2015-20); and Criminalization of Dictatorial Pasts in Europe and Latin America in Global Perspective (2016-20).