A decade after the end of European and Eurasian communism the once acrimonious debates between "area studies" and "the discipline" have largely subsided. Access to archives, survey data, and political elites has allowed east European countries to be treated as normal arenas of research. Recent work by both younger and established scholars has made serious contributions not only to the understanding of postcommunism but also to broader research questions about the political economy of reform, federalism, transitional justice, and nationalism and interethnic relations. The key issue for students of postcommunism is explaining the highly variable paths that east European and Eurasian states have taken since 1989. Compared with the relative homogeneity of outcomes in earlier transitions in southern Europe and Latin America--extrication from previous regimes followed by long periods of consolidation--the record in the east looks profoundly more varied: a handful of successful transitions and easy consolidations, several incomplete transitions, a few transitions followed by reversion to authoritarian politics, even some transitions that never really began at all. The works under review point scholars toward the study of the institutional legacies of state socialism: the "subversive institutions" of the communist state, the institutional dimensions of ethnic solidarity and mobilization, and the emerging patterns of interinstitutional bargaining in the first years of postcommunism.


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pp. 143-172
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