Matynia, Elzbieta

Elzbieta  Matynia
PhD, Sociology, University of Warsaw

Professor of Liberal Studies and Sociology, The New School for Social Research

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Areas of Expertise:
Eastern and Central Europe; post-communist transformations; democratization; political transitions to democracy; women and democracy; transnational education; intercultural communication; the arts and politics

Elzbieta Matynia is Professor of Sociology and Liberal Studies and director of the Transregional Center for Democratic Studies at The New School for Social Research in New York. Her research in the sociology of politics and art focuses on democratic transitions in Eastern Europe and beyond, on the concept of borderlands in the new shared Europe, and more recently on the challenges faced by democracies emerging with a legacy of violence. Her two recent books bring together the theater of politics, performance art, and citizens' agency. An Uncanny Era (Yale University Press, 2014) presents post-revolutionary conversations between Europe's most emblematic former dissidents: Czech playwright and president Václav Havel, and Polish political thinker Adam Michnik. Her Performative Democracy (Paradigm, 2009), explores a potential in political life that easily escapes theorists: the indigenously inspired enacting of democracy by citizens. Written by one who experienced an emerging public sphere within pre-1989 Poland, it seeks to identify the conditions for performativity in public life. 

Courses Taught:
  • Cosmopolitanism and Its Discontents
  • Romancing Violence
  • Gender, Identity, and Agency in a Globalizing World 
  • Globalization and the Politics of Public Memory
  • A Global Consensus? Democratization, Gender Equality, and Cultural Recognition 
  • Ethnos and Demos: The Dynamics of Modern Nationalism
  • The Concept of Culture
  • New Europe and the Maladies of Post-communism 
  • Explorations in Modernity: Lessons from Central Europe
  • Theaters and Publics 
  • Mikhail Bakhtin and Russian Formalism
Recent Publications:
"The Uncanny Era. Conversations between Václav Havel and Adam Michnik" (Yale University Press, 2014)
Performative Democracy (Yale Cultural Sociology Series, Paradigm, 2009)

An Old Bridge and a new Agora; and Between the Local and the Global; two chapters in "A Handbook of Dialogue: Trust and Identity," Brussels-Sejny 2011

“Feminism between the Local and the Global: A Task of Translation,” in Amrita Basu, ed.,
Women’s Movements in the Global Era (Westview, 2010)

Editor of special issue of the Social Research Quarterly on Civil society, and of International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society, “1989 and Beyond: The Future of Democratic Politics”

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