The end of the Cold War and the accompanying easing of archival restrictions in former communist countries have created a veritable renaissance in historical literature on the region in the last two decades. The fall of the Iron Curtain has subsequently thrown into doubt the historiographical salience of a strict East–West divide and prompted the resurgence of analytic concepts such as Central Europe or East Central Europe. The former term, defined famously but imprecisely in the 1980s by Milan Kundera as those lands ‘culturally in the West and politically in the East’, has grown no easier to delimit with the march of European integration and democratic stability across most of the ‘central’ part of the continent. The latter term is, in some senses, less problematic, since the ‘East’ in East Central Europe is generally understood to exclude those areas in current-day Germany or Austria. Yet the region's eastern and southern borders are still much disputed.
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