EXPRO projects

Expertise in authoritarian societies. 
Human sciences in the socialist countries of East-Central Europe (ExpertTurn)

Investigator: doc. Kateřina Lišková, Ph.D.
Beneficiary: Historický ústav AV ČR, v. v. i.
Provider: The Czech Science Foundation
Project duration: 2021–2026
Project ID: GX21-28766X

Project website: https://ExpertTurn.hiu.cas.cz/

Expertise shapes modern forms of governance. Yet, we know significantly more about the postwar Western expertise than we know about the other side of the Iron Curtain. In our project, we put expertise center stage and analyze socialist countries. Focusing on health and normalcy as discussed by the human sciences, we study the negotiation of knowledge, analyzing how experts communicated with: other experts, the state and ordinary people in four neighboring countries: Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, and East Germany. While these countries shared the socialist path, they diverged in expertise institutionalization. 
Our research stems from a post-totalitarian paradigm that refuses to perceive the state-socialist past as a monolith. Further, in contrast to prevailing views that communist ideology commanded human scientists and tainted their findings, our hypothesis is that it was expertise that shaped the ideas of health and normalcy that socialist governments subsequently implemented. Making this “expert turn” will bring a novel understanding of governance in modern, yet authoritarian societies.


  • Explain the character of governance through human-science expertise during state socialism in East-Central Europe.
  • Analyze the role expertise played and the ways it intersected with the Party and the state.
  • Comparative analysis of East-Central Europe with a focus on transnational expert exchange.