The Impact of the Ford Foundation’s East European Program on the Social Sciences and Humanities in Real Socialist Europe

Friday, 20 July 2018: 16:15
Oral Presentation
Matthias DULLER, University of Graz, Department of Sociology, Austria
This paper analyzes the Ford Foundation's East European fellowship program and assesses the impact that these programs had on the social sciences and humanities in ‘real socialist’ countries. From 1956 and through most of the 1960s and beyond, hundreds of East European social scientists, humanities scholars and artists, above all from Poland and Yugoslavia, received fellowships to spend study and research stays up to two years in Western (mostly US) universities. Different from earlier programs such as the 1948 'Free Russia Fund' (since 1951 called ‘East European Fund’), that had targeted émigré scholars from the Soviet Union, the new program’s objectives were to stimulate the expansion of modern social sciences within the Communist ‘satellite states’ and to ‘Westernize’ their intellectuals. My paper consists of two parts. First, based on archival research in the Rockefeller Archive Center in Sleepy Hollow, NY, I outline the Ford Foundation's rationales and activities concerning its East European programs, including the Foundation officers' interactions with political and academic elites at home and abroad, as well as their evaluations of the program's success. Second, I address the question how the impact of the program can be historically assessed. To that end, the conflicting goals and expectations from Ford Foundation officers, the socialist governments and the academic intellectuals will be explicated and compared to different historical outcomes. In addition to archival material, I draw on a set of oral history interviews with selected former fellows from different countries and disciplines.