Photo of Professor James Mark

Professor James Mark

M.Phil. D.Phil. (Oxon)



01392 724295

Most of my research addresses the social and cultural history of state socialism in central-eastern Europe, the  politics of memory in the area during both socialism and post-socialism, or aims to connect the region to broader global histories and processes through transnational and comparative methods.

I have published on the way in which history gets recast at moments of major political change, addressing the ways in which political elites, cultural institutions, institutes of memory, and ordinary people have contributed to the re-imagining of the past after the fall of Communism in eastern Europe after 1989. I have also recently co-authored a monograph titled 'Europe's 1968': it is a work that incorporates the socialist east and Mediterranean dictatorships into a comparative and transnational account of the activisms of the1960s and 1970s.

Currently,  I am working on a book (with Dr. Péter Apor) on  the impact of the politics of decolonisation, peaceful co-existence, anti-imperialism, and market socialism on official and nonconformist cultures of late socialist Hungary, and editing a collection 'Between Decolonisation and the Cold War: Transnational Activism and Its Limits in Europe 1950s-1990s' (with Dr. Maud Bracke).

I am currently Principal Investigator on two major research research projects. The first is a Leverhulme Research Leadership Award (2014 – 2019): '1989 after 1989: Rethinking the Fall of State Socialism in Global Perspective'. This has brought a team of four research fellows, and two PhD students, to Exeter. Together we will be embarking on a range of projects which aim to place the end of state socialism in both longer-term and global contexts, connecting this major historical transformation to broader political, economic and cultural processes of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The second is an Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK) funded project, in collaboration with six other institutions,  'Socialism Goes Global: Cold War Connections Between the 'Second' and 'Third Worlds''.

For information on  'The Unfinished Revolution: Making Sense of the Communist Past in central-eastern Europe', see It was shortlisted for the 2011 Longman History Today Book Prize, and chosen as one of the 'best books of 2011' by Foreign Affairs.    

To hear me discuss the book on BBC Radio 4, click: (about half way through the programme)

For information on 'Europe's 1968. Voices of Revolt' (OUP, 2013), see

Europe's 1968


Research interests

My work has a number of strands. My D.Phil. research, based primarily on oral history, concerned the experience of Hungarian middle class under the Communist state. My current research (which was funded by an AHRC Research Leave Award and has been published as a monograph with Yale University Press) deals with how major political transformations produce new public histories through which social groups may re-imagine their own pasts. For more details, see It addresses the  re-remembering the past in seven countries of the former eastern bloc, in a wide range of settings: political debate, history commissions, Institutes of National Remembrance, museums, memorial sites, and in everyday life, using oral history to examine how individuals' very autobiographies are shaped by the pressures of a new political system. I also have an ongoing project on the memory of the second world war in Hungarian and Romanian communities in Transylvania, which was piloted as part of an ESRC one-year postdoctoral fellowship.  I have been involved in an AHRC funded project, 'Around 1968: Activism, Networks, Trajectories': a team project which has sought to tell the story of 1960s and 1970s activism from a pan-European perspective, incorporating the personal experiences - drawn from over 500 oral history interviews - of activists from the socialist bloc and southern European dictatorships alongside the 'western core'. For more details, see I am also a National Committee Member of the Oral History Society.

I am currently working on a book (with Dr. Péter Apor) on  the impact of the politics of decolonisation, peaceful co-existence, anti-imperialism, and market socialism on official and unofficial activist culture in late socialist Hungary, and an edited collection entitled 'The Limits of Transnationalism in Europe 1950s-80s' (with Dr. Maud Bracke). As part of this research, I organised a conference on ‘The Limits of Transnationalism’ in 2010.



Research supervision

I am willing  to supervise work on the social, cultural and political history of modern central-eastern Europe. I am particularly keen to work with research students who are interested in the socio-cultural and memory studies approaches to the study of state socialism and post-socialism, and in connecting the region to broader global histories and processes through transnational and comparative methods. I can also offer particular expertise in the use of oral history and the source bases created by state socialism. 


Research students

Recent and current PhD students: 

Anna Calori, Yugoslav and post-Yugoslav workers and privatisation

Bálint Tolmár, oil and energy in late socialist Hungary

Ljubica Spaskovska, studying supranationalism in late socialist Yugoslav and post-Yugoslav cultures

Agata Drelova,  studying national memory and religion in late socialist and post-socialist Slovakia.

James Koranyi,  studying postwar identities of the Romanian Germans

Anna Sheftel, studying the politics of memory and reconciliation in post-conflict Bosnia

Karoly Konecsny,  studying the German occuaption of Hungary in 1944.


I completed my BA in History, M.Phil. in Russian and East European Studies and a D.Phil. at the University of Oxford. I have worked in the History Department at Exeter since 2004.