Hijacked Ideas : Human Rights, Peace and Environmentalism in Czechoslovak and Polish Dissident Discourses

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Central European dissidents, although in many ways constrained by their post-totalitarian regimes, were nevertheless taking part in a transnational circulation of ideas. This article is inspired by contemporary studies of cultural (g)localization and links them to the research on dissent to show that the dissident intellectuals in Central Europe (the particular contexts of Czechoslovakia and Poland are investigated) were not only the receivers, but also retransmitters and “generators,” of “universal” ideas. To grasp their role and to understand the nature of “universal” ideas, it is necessary to look into domestic contexts to see how internationally functioning ideas are localized—that is, recontextualized and translated. What is more, locally altered meanings can influence the international “originals” so that a new meaning can be renegotiated. Central European opposition found a firm foundation and a source of empowerment in the internationally recognized discourse of human rights. However, with time, dissident groups in the Eastern Bloc struggled to reinterpret these ideas and extend their mobilizing effect onto other issues. Certain themes present in Western debates were taken up in Central Europe and merged with human rights issues. The two analyzed here are pacifism and environmentalism, ideas that were metaphorically “hijacked” and used by the dissidents. The article shows how the translation and renegotiation of these ideas proceeded and to what extent they were successful both locally and transnationally.

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320 Politik
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dissidents, human rights, peace movement, environmentalism, glocalization, framing
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ISO 690SZULECKI, Kacper, 2011. Hijacked Ideas : Human Rights, Peace and Environmentalism in Czechoslovak and Polish Dissident Discourses. In: East European Politics and Societies and Cultures. 2011, 25(2), pp. 272-295. ISSN 0888-3254. eISSN 1533-8371. Available under: doi: 10.1177/0888325410387643
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@article{Szulecki2011Hijac-35624,
  year={2011},
  doi={10.1177/0888325410387643},
  title={Hijacked Ideas : Human Rights, Peace and Environmentalism in Czechoslovak and Polish Dissident Discourses},
  number={2},
  volume={25},
  issn={0888-3254},
  journal={East European Politics and Societies and Cultures},
  pages={272--295},
  author={Szulecki, Kacper}
}
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