J. Paul Goode is McMillan Chair in Russian Studies and Associate Professor in Carleton University’s Institute of European, Russian and Eurasian Studies, and Editor-in-Chief of UC Press’s journal Communist and Post-Communist Studies. We recently checked in with Professor Goode on the publication of his inaugural issue as editor of CPCS.
UC Press: Although Communist and Post-Communist Studies is in its 54th(!) year, the latest issue represents the first with you at the editorial helm. Congratulations on these first fruits of your labor!
JPG: Thank you! The journal’s new editorial team has been working hard since taking the reins last summer. I am especially grateful that the previous editors, Lucy Kerner and Bob Hager, had already assembled the remaining issues for 2020, which allowed us to focus on re-launching the journal.
UC Press: Tell us about your vision for the journal, and about the editorial team you’ve assembled.
JPG: CPCS features theoretically-informed, comparative analyses of communist and post-communist politics and societies. That is a deceptively simple statement that conceals a great deal of soul-searching in the field since the 1990s. Particularly as concerns post-communism, many scholars began to claim any cases or developments in certain regions (mainly Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union) as post-communist without considering the meaning and implication of the term. At worst, it became kind of a throwaway term that implied what was happening in one country ought to be relevant to others with shared histories, experiences, institutions, or simply by virtue of geographic proximity. Recent debates over the analytic value of “communist and post-communist” as a research frame suggest that the terms are perceived as dated or even as neocolonial.
Having said that, it is clear that there are distinctive features that continue to link together states and societies that currently or previously experienced communist rule. Though we are well past the era of European transitions from communist rule, post-communist states and societies continue to react to the experience of rupture. In politics, these influences persist in the populist revolts against neoliberalism and globalization, or the manipulation of collective memory and myth-making of the communist era. For example, the rise of far right populist parties and movements in Central and Eastern Europe in the 21st century has been linked to the legacies of transitions from communist rule.
As a geographical frame, “communist and post-communist” traditionally has focused on Europe and the former Soviet Union. Yet communism and post-communism continue to matter around the world. Communist regimes today persist and have proven resilient in parts of Asia. The Cold War experience of fighting communism created core Western security structures and continues to inform their foreign policy repertoires. The histories of social justice movements and decolonization interacted with, and developed alongside, communist histories, movements, and foreign policies, such that post-communism continues to be experienced, challenged, and reframed in a global sense. In other words, the geographies of communism and post-communism are not just about Cold War-era political blocs and we are continually re-discovering them.
CPCS has always been an eclectic, multidisciplinary journal—especially since 1969, when it became known as Studies in Comparative Communism. The journal remains multidisciplinary, and the current editorial team is united around the goal of publishing comparative research that advances our theoretical understanding of communist or post-communist politics and societies. “Comparative” research does not mean “large-n,” as we all appreciate that single-case studies can be relevant to understanding broader developments and phenomena. Regardless of the research design, we encourage authors to be precise about concepts, the theoretical relevance of their findings, and the implications for our understanding of communist and post-communist politics and societies.
The new editorial team departs from the journal’s past practice in a number of ways. The editorial board has been expanded with an eye toward broadly representing the field in terms of gender, varieties of expertise, and nationalities. We now have a Managing Editor (Danielle Price) who brings her experience of working with two previous journals and keeps things running smoothly behind the scenes. The journal now has six Associate Editors, each with different areas and fields of expertise to ensure that we can find qualified reviewers for each manuscript. We have also designated Associate Editors to work with Special Issues (Larry Markowitz) and Research Notes (Scott Radnitz). This approach has worked well so far, and we have reduced the average time from submission to an initial decision based on reviews from 18 months to approximately 60 days.
UC Press: Can you tell us about some of the articles in the new issue, and give a glimpse of what’s to come in future issues this year?
JPG: This issue is actually a double issue featuring ten articles that examine developments across Europe, the former Soviet Union, and China. For those interested in the role of ideas and power, Filip Ilkowski’s article, “Anti-Communism as Ideology,” exemplifies the points made above about the enduring significance of post-communism. It examines the ways that “anti-communism” served to legitimate political and economic transitions in Poland but increasingly encountered its limits in recent years. Martin Štefek’s “Czechoslovakia’s Discreet Behavioral Revolution in the 1960s” provides a great bookend for the issue, creatively examining how the behavioral revolution in the social sciences connected with the intellectual origins of the Prague Spring.
Authoritarianism is an unavoidable feature of politics across much of the world today and a number of articles contribute to our understanding of autocracy. Jiangnan Zhu and Nikolai Mukhin’s “The Modern Regency” bridges between past and present in comparing the historical experiences of the USSR and China to suggest the factors that make for orderly leadership transition in contemporary autocracies. Grigorii Golosov and Mikhail Turchenko’s “Countering the ‘Sweep Effect’” focuses on municipal elections in Russia to assess the effectiveness of coordination among opposition voters in electoral authoritarian regimes.
And that is just the tip of the iceberg. There are also articles focusing on religion-state interaction and the refugee crisis in Bulgaria and Moldova, neoliberalism and media portrayals of protest in the first decade of post-communist transition in Latvia, European identity discourses in Georgia, variations in collective memory of the USSR, and the increased prevalence of constitutional identity in Russia.
I expect future issues to be even more diverse, both intellectually and geographically. Our next issue will include articles on the influence of successor parties in new democracies on public attitudes toward the past, access to citizenship in Central and Eastern Europe, transnational knowledge transfer, elite purges in North Korea, how citizens in the former USSR perceive their states’ foreign policy roles, and the relationship between political environment and LGBT activism in Russia. In addition to research on the journal’s traditional areas like Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, we are receiving more submissions related to Asia than ever before. We are lining up some fascinating special issues on broad thematic topics like class, authoritarianism, protest, and nation-building. We have also introduced a new Research Notes section of the journal, which is devoted to presenting new sources of data, discussing the preliminary findings of innovative new research projects, or addressing challenging ethical issues.
UC Press: Any advice for someone considering submitting a manuscript to CPCS?
JPG: If you are uncertain whether your manuscript might be of interest to the journal, I am always happy to take a look at an abstract. Likewise, if you have an idea for a special issue or if you think you might have a research note, feel free to reach out. The editorial team can give you a quick response to help you decide whether to move forward with submitting a manuscript or proposal. And when you do submit a manuscript, please be sure to follow the submission guidelines and let us know if you have any questions!
UC Press: Thank you for your leadership of the journal, and best wishes for the journal during your editorial tenure!
Communist and Post-Communist Studies is an international, peer-reviewed scholarly journal featuring comparative research on current and historical developments in the communist and post-communist world. Post-communist states and societies encompass Central and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, Asia, Africa, and Latin America, for which the term “post-communist” remains analytically useful as a temporal or geographical frame. The journal broadly covers domestic politics and societies, foreign policy and international relations, ideology and identities, political economy, political and human geography, and law.