New Eastern Europe

Poland

One of the most acute chroniclers and critics of the 19th-century European empires of the East was neither a historian nor a political scientist, but a Polish mariner. Douglas Kerr examines how Joseph Conrad mastered the narratives of empire in a language that was not his own.

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Nitra is a small city of around 78,000 in western Slovakia, nestled at the foot of a castle-crowned hill. A walk down the main drag, Štefánikova Street, paints a picture seen across provincial former Habsburgia: there’s brand new infrastructure, shiny new buses but no jobs. Since December 2015 a small group of Christian refugees from Iraq have called this small town their home away from home.

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In Central and Eastern Europe, a myriad of nationalists and populists are able to exploit what Richard Rorty called ‘the fear that there will be not enough to go around’. Yet liberal democracies are more resilient than they appear at the present moment, argues Samuel Abrahám.

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