Academic Presses in Czechoslovakia and Hungary under Communist Regimes

By Libora Oates-Indruchová

Communist regimes recognized the political importance, and therefore danger, of the social sciences and the humanities. That is why they elevated them to the order of utmost societal importance, but chained them to the ruling ideology. At the legislative level, scholarly work was often specifically exempt from censoring constraints, yet censorship pervaded all stages of academic research and publishing. Was censorship conducive or detrimental to creative work and critical thinking? What was the life course of a thought under these repressive conditions? Were thoughts communicated in a code shared by authors and their readers but inaccessible to censors? Who was responsible for the printed words? What was the authorial persona and how much agency did “it” have? My project, the results of which have now been published in a book, began with a quest: to reconstruct, from oral testimonies and written documents, an important part of the intellectual history of the Cold War so that the scholarly texts written at that time did not lose their enigmas and substance and were not read only as mementos of shackled ideas. In my book, I bring together Czech and Hungarian social science and humanities scholars and editors in “imagined conversations” on their work during late state socialism from the Prague Spring in 1968 to the Velvet Revolution of 1989. Their predicament also serves as an occasion to reflect on the current academic debates about the future of humanities and on global political rhetoric. For this blog, I have decided to present the central ideas of my project in the form of a screencast:


Libora Oates-Indruchová is Professor of the Sociology of Gender at the University of Graz (Austria). Her research on cultural issues at the time of state socialism and during the transition period has drawn on discourse theory, qualitative methods, and gender analysis. She is the author of Censorship in Czech and Hungarian Academic Publishing, 1969-89: Snakes and Ladders (Bloomsbury Academic, 2020) and together with Hana Havelková co-editor of The Politics of Gender Culture under State Socialism: An Expropriated Voice (Routledge 2014) that won the BASEES Women’s Forum Book Prize in 2016.


Further articles in the Academic Freedom series on TRAFO:

Gisèle Sapiro, Amr Hamzawy, and Başak Tuğ, Threats to Academic Freedom – Historical and Contemporary Remarks, 17 February 2021.

Pascal Engel, Academic Freedom is the Freedom to Know, 24 February 2021.

Mitchell G. Ash, The Suppression and Misuses of Academic Freedom During the Nazi Regime, 3 March 2021.

Sandra Richter, What Kind of Academic Freedom and for Whom? Karl Jaspers’ Idea of the University, 10 March 2021.


Citation: Libora Oates-Indruchová, Academic Presses in Czechoslovakia and Hungary under Communist Regimes, in: TRAFO – Blog for Transregional Research, 24.03.2021, https://trafo.hypotheses.org/27336


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