‘A Connected Island?’: How the Iron Curtain affected Palaeolithic Archaeologists in Central Europe

Iza Romanowska (Centre for the Archaeology of Human Origins, University of Southampton)
Tom Brughmans (Archaeological Computing Research Group, University of Southampton)

After the Second World War the Iron Curtain sliced through the very centre of Europe. The Soviet regime introduced a new structure to the academic institutions in countries like Poland, Hungary and former Czechoslovakia, including restrictions on contacts with the Western world and ideological pressure. How did this situation affect researchers on both sides? Was Central European Academia really isolated from western influences?

It is difficult to quantitatively determine to what degree these limitations affected archaeologists. The project team argues that citation data might allow (at least in part) for such a quantitative evaluation. Citations are like handy formal proxies for tracing lines of knowledge dissemination and academic influence, obviously not fully representative for these very complex processes, but well suited to quantify the ‘awareness’ of other peoples’ research.

The project will initially focus on the Lower and Middle Palaeolithic of Poland, former Czechoslovakia and Hungary. Citations have been extracted from publications of a synthetic nature (i.e. not field reports) and a citation network analysis has been performed on that data. Our preliminary results indicate that a lot of common presumptions regarding the research behind the Iron Curtain, like the dominance of Russian or national languages in Academic writing, are in fact false.

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