Roma Youth Get Organized

It wasn’t easy to find Kecerovce. I missed the turnoff on the road leading out of Kosice, the main city in eastern Slovakia. One of the clerks at the gas station where I stopped for directions had never heard of the place, and the other one didn’t know how to get there. I eventually retraced my steps, found the right exit, and drove deep into the Slovak countryside. Kecerovce is a village of...
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Participatory Environmentalism

The environmental movement has long stressed the importance of personal responsibility. What we do as individuals might seem trivial when set against the huge complex systems that regulate the earth. But if enough individuals change their habits, it can make a difference. And so we do what we can: turn down our thermostats, install insulation, reduce our consumption of meat, bicycle to work. And...
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Can Politics Be Different?

Every few years in East-Central Europe, a new political movement emerges that challenges not only the status quo but the very substance of the political system. Sometimes the movement targets the party patronage system. Sometimes it focuses on the corruption that enriches those who participate in governance. Sometimes it elevates a set of issues that the media or the political elite has...
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Becoming a Bestseller

When the book market opened up in East-Central Europe after the changes of 1989, readers naturally gravitated toward the books they’d been previously denied. Banned books became bestsellers. In Hungary, for instance, “everything that could not be published since 1948 was printed and sold in huge editions. Neither the ‘official’ publishing houses nor the ‘official’ distribution system...
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This Is Not a Transition

It has been commonplace to use the term “transition” when referring to what took place in East-Central Europe in the years immediately following 1989. The term initially had a refreshing vagueness to it. So much was up in the air. So much was changing. The fixed certainties of the past had melted away. At the same time, it was not exactly clear what the future held or, at least, when that...
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Funding Roma Autonomy

Between 1990 and 2010, according to the World Bank, the number of people living in extreme poverty worldwide was cut in half. This dramatic achievement, which was actually a major Millennium Development Goal, happened several years ahead of schedule. The reduction in extreme poverty varied from region to region, with great gains made in Asia and not much progress achieved in Africa. In...
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