1989 Through the Darkened Lens of the Present

Lecture and discussion | 11 November 2019 | 6:30 pm

in cooperation with the Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History (ZZF) and the Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies (IOS)

with Thomas Carothers, Jan C. Behrends and Ulf Brunnbauer
Chair: Gwendolyn Sasse

© Heiko Küverling / Alamy Stock Foto

The contrast between the hopes raised by the pivotal political events of 1989 — both concerning democracy's global future and the possibility of a fundamental rapprochement between Russia and the West — and today's political realities is sobering. Is this shortfall between hopes and achievements a reflection of mistakenly optimistic assumptions that were formed in the wake of 1989? Or is it more a result of policy mistakes that have been made in the intervening years?  In this lecture, Thomas Carothers, an authoritative scholar of democratisation and international relations, will undertake a searching, global perspective on the events of 1989 with the aim of answering these questions.


Thomas Carothers is senior vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He also directs the Democracy, Conflict, and Governance Program and is the author of several critically acclaimed books on democracy promotion, like Confronting the Weakest Link: Aiding Political Parties in New Democracies (Carnegie, 2006) and Promoting the Rule of Law Abroad: In Search of Knowledge (Carnegie, 2006).  

Jan C. Behrends is a historian at the Centre for Contemporary History (ZZF) in Potsdam. He also heads the International Research Network on Physical Violence and State Legitimacy in Late Socialism. Behrends has published widely on Stalinism, leader cults, and topics in comparative history, as well as on violence and wars in the Soviet and post-Soviet space.

Ulf Brunnbauer is academic director of the Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies. His research is mainly devoted to the social history of Southeastern Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries, with collateral interest in the history of nationalism, Muslim minorities and the history of history writing in the region.

Gwendolyn Sasse is director of the Centre for East European and International Studies. Her research interests include political identities and conflicts in the post-Soviet space.