The Long 1989

Decades of Global Revolution
$75.00 / €65.00 / £60.00
Publication date: 
290 pages

The fall of communism in Europe is now the frame of reference for any mass mobilization, from the Arab Spring to the Occupy movement to Brexit. Even thirty years on, 1989 still figures as a guide and motivation for political change. It is now a platitude to call 1989 a “world event,” but the chapters in this volume show how it actually became one.

The authors of these nine essays consider how revolutionary events in Europe resonated years later and thousands of miles away: in China and South Africa, Chile and Afghanistan, Turkey and the USA. They trace the circulation of people, practices, and concepts that linked these countries, turning local developments into a global phenomenon. At the same time, they examine the many shifts that revolution underwent in transit. All nine chapters detail the process of mutation, adaptation, and appropriation through which foreign affairs found new meanings on the ground. They interrogate the uses and understandings of 1989 in particular national contexts, often many years after the fact. Taken together, this volume asks how the fall of communism in Europe became the basis for revolutionary action around the world, proposing a paradigm shift in global thinking about revolution and protest.

Piotr H. Kosicki and Kyrill Kunakhovich

1. 1989 Compared and Connected: The Demise of Communism in Poland and Apartheid in South Africa
Adrian Guelke and Tom Junes
2. Islam as Ideology and Tactic: Soviet Central Asia and Afghanistan
Věra Exnerová
3. European Lessons for China: Tiananmen 1989 and Beyond
Martin K. Dimitrov

4. Dialogical Democracy: King, Michnik, and the American Culture Wars
Jeffrey Stout
5. The Virtue of Not Inventing Anything
István Rév
6. The Rule of Law after the Short Twentieth Century: Launching a Global Career
Martin Krygier

7. Catalyst of History: Francis Fukuyama, the Iraq War, and the Legacies of 1989 in the Middle East
Samuel Helfont
8. Social Movement vs. Social Arrest: The Global Occupations of the Twenty-first Century
Mehmet Döşemeci
9. Euromaidan and the 1989 Legacy: Solidarity in Action?
Valeria Korablyova


"By elevating the 1989 revolutions from an event to an epoch, the authors want to place it on an equal footing with other historical epochs—neither the culmination nor a stage of a process of global liberalization, nor a mythical Year Zero that closes the postwar period and sets it apart from our own, still nameless post-Cold War time. Instead, in the editors’ words, the 1989 revolutions were a 'signpost of gradual change.' The contradictions, discrepancies, and implicit polemics present in various chapters are in themselves a sign of the complexity of the topics tackled by the volume. The Long 1989 will remain a valuable contribution especially in the field of intellectual history."
"The contributors to The Long 1989 seek to shore up the enduring significance of the year as 'the paradigmatic revolution of our time', more resonant and morepotent than 1789 or 1917. For Kosicki and Kunakhovich, the year 1989 has unique historical significance: 'Its core ideas, lexicon, and tactics now serve as archetypes of revolutionary action'. If this bold claim is right, then any scholarly effort to characterize the fall ofthe Berlin Wall as merely an epiphenomenon, just a single wave in a vast roiling sea of gradual change, will surely falter. Our political imagination demands heroic stories and decisive turning points, even if our history does not."
"Ultimately both The Global 1989 and The Long 1989 are best viewed as studies in transnational history, or more precisely, transregional history, simply because their very theme, 1989, is regionally defined. Both works transcend any narrowly defined regional perspective and overcome purely internalist explanations, but ultimately still fail to reckon with the global as a theoretically construed totality, and thus privilege the connective aspects of the global history of 1989 at the expense of partly neglecting the integrative ones. None of this distracts from the fact that The Global 1989 is probably the best transregional history of 1989 one can read today, and The Long 1989 is the best in-depth companion to it on select topics."
"In The Long 1989, the breakthrough of that year is presented not just as past events but as multifaceted processes that are still in progress in different places around the globe. The authors show a variety of changes all over the world that were affected by the changeover in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as Western influences that determined and shaped the last revolution in the twentieth century. They trace the diffusion of the idea under scrutiny in spatial and temporal terms, showing various ways of understanding the concept of revolution and, to some extent, presenting semantic tensions between the concept of revolution and counterrevolution. In this way, the publication contributes to the field of history of ideas. By showing entangled paths of this wandering idea of peaceful revolution and examining the nature of the post-1989 world order, the authors present revolutions of 1989 as a cultural and political pattern. As they trace the diffusion of the idea under... more
"The collective volume aims to analyse the events of 1989 in a broader perspective. On the one hand, it interrogates the impact of the 1989 revolutions of Central and Eastern Europe in the world at that particular moment, and, on the other, it argues that the revolution which started in 1989 goes on while inspiring mass mobilisation in other areas and in recent years, as was the case with the ‘Arab spring’, or the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement in the USA, to name but a few. Inspired by the idea of Joseph de Maistre, who wrote about the French Revolution of 1789 that 'for a long time we did not fully understand the revolution of which we were witnesses; for a long time, we took it to be an event. We were mistaken; it was an epoch', the editors and the authors look at how the events of 1989 and their aftermath 'resonated years later and thousands of miles away'. The nine chapters deal with various topics such as Poland and the apartheid in South Africa, Soviet... more