© 2019

Dissidents in Communist Central Europe

Human Rights and the Emergence of New Transnational Actors


Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Social Movements book series (PSHSM)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxiv
  2. Kacper Szulecki
    Pages 1-19
  3. Kacper Szulecki
    Pages 21-37
  4. Kacper Szulecki
    Pages 39-63
  5. Kacper Szulecki
    Pages 65-86
  6. Kacper Szulecki
    Pages 119-144
  7. Kacper Szulecki
    Pages 145-161
  8. Kacper Szulecki
    Pages 183-206
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 231-242

About this book


This monograph traces the history of the dissident as a transnational phenomenon, exploring Soviet dissidents in Communist Central Europe from the mid-1960s until 1989. It argues that our understanding of the transnational activist would not be what it is today without the input of Central European oppositionists and ties the term to the global emergence and evolution of human rights. The book examines how we define dissidents and explores the association of political resistance to authoritarian regimes, as well as the impact of domestic and international recognition of the dissident figure. Turning to literature to analyse the meaning and impact of the dissident label, the book also incorporates interviews and primary accounts from former activists. Combining a unique theoretical approach with new empirical material, this book will appeal to students and scholars of contemporary history, politics and culture in Central Europe. 


Activism Soviet regime Authoritarianism Rebel Second half of the twentieth century Eastern Europe Central Europe Czechoslovakia Poland Hungary East-West

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

About the authors

Kacper Szulecki is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, University of Oslo, Norway. He was previously a Dahrendorf Fellow at the Hertie School of Governance (Berlin, Germany), a visiting researcher at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (Florence, Italy) and a researcher at the Cluster of Excellence ‘Cultural Foundations of Integration’, University of Konstanz (Konstanz, Germany).

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Dissidents in Communist Central Europe
  • Book Subtitle Human Rights and the Emergence of New Transnational Actors
  • Authors Kacper Szulecki
  • Series Title Palgrave Studies in the History of Social Movements
  • Series Abbreviated Title Palgrave Studies in the History of Social Movements
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2019
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-030-22612-1
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-030-22615-2
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-030-22613-8
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XXIV, 242
  • Number of Illustrations 2 b/w illustrations, 1 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Social History
    Russian, Soviet, and East European History
    Labor History
    Political History
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“Dissidents in Communist Central Europe is a welcome addition to the field of dissent studies and one to be recommended to all scholars with an interest in the history and practice of dissidence.” (James P. Brown, Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 73 (3), March 22, 2021)

“Kacper Szulecki’s book is an extremely inspiring and thought-provoking read. It can be considered one of the most important books ever published on various forms of opposition to communism. Moreover, it also provides important impulses for understanding political conflicts in the modern, interconnected world and the movements currently fighting against dictatorships.” (Jan Olaszek, H-Soz-Kult,, December 8, 2020)

“One of the merits of the book is that it acknowledges the absence of women in the historiography of dissident movements in East Central Europe. As Szulecki observes, this was due not only to the persistent machismo within the opposition circles, but also to the fashioning of the dissident figure, which was mainly constructed by the Western media, public, and scholars.” (Una Blagojević, Hungarian Historical Review, Vol. 9 (2), 2020)

“The book is an inspiring and engaging read. It gives much needed analytical perspective on dissidents. It also prompts us to re-think conventional historical narratives on postwar Central Europe that we have often learned from dissidents.” (Aspen Review, Issue 2, 2020)