“Transformation from below” is a collaborative, three-year project that explores labor relations and their changes in two shipyards, in Pula (Croatia) and Gdynia (Poland) since the late 1970s. It aims at providing an innovative interpretation of post-socialist transformation which, in actuality, already began long before communist rule came to an end. The project hopes to shed new light on the position of workers in and during transformation, and on their interactions with management and government. How did the agency of workers and other important agents in our story interact with, and impact each other? The project is an effort toward the long-overdue comparison between the recent social histories of Southeastern and East Central Europe, while also positioning these cases in the global context of transformative changes in “late” capitalism. This is why we will also discuss the significance of global entanglements for the development of local places, departing from the global nature of the ship-building industry. Exploring different levels of analysis and addressing different observer positions will help to arrive at new temporalities of transformation as a multi-dimensional process.
The project is carried out by the Institute for East and Southeast European Studies (Regensburg) and the Institute for East European History at the University of Vienna, under joint guidance by Ulf Brunnbauer and Philipp Ther. It is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), and the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) and runs from April 2016 to March 2019.