, Volume 59, Issue 1, pp 87-92
Date: 06 Feb 2011

The Prague school of Portmannian biology

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The atmosphere in Czechoslovakian academia at the beginning of the 1980s mirrored in many respects that of mainstream society. The intellectual rush of the Prague Spring, halted by Soviet and allied armies in August 1968, was long gone. In the early seventies, the communist regime managed to exchange pro-reform communists for fundamental or loyal ones, and this took place not only in top governmental positions, but also at lower levels: for instance, managers had to confront commissions where they were subject to profound questioning concerning their attitude to the events of the Prague Spring (that time officially named the Contrarevolutionary Attempt).

This meant that many academic positions (including Heads of Departments, Deans and so on) were delegated according to party loyalty rather than by virtue of other qualities. Furthermore, many academics who were active during the sixties movement were not willing to disaffirm their thoughts during ideology inspections or simply did not c ...