2021 saw the thirtieth anniversary of the collapse of the Soviet Union, and there is a growing interest in the historicization of the past 30 years of transformation. Taking this anniversary as a point of departure, we want to look into a specific area that has markedly changed in the last three decades – the scholarly community. The interest of analysing the academia in a period of transformation is not new, and the 1990s are amply covered by the literature scrutinising changes and forging plans for the future development, but we intend to enrich this discussion with approaches coming from the history of science and of scholarship.
By looking at changes that happened in the decade following the end of the Socialist utopia, we propose to look into mechanisms of organizational and intellectual innovation and place them in the context of European and global integration. As we argue, looking at the 1990s in Central and Eastern Europe can help us to understand how scholarly systems change by oscillating between tradition and innovation, and we propose the notions of a selective Westernisation and an equally selective traditionalism for our case study.