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History of Communism in Europe

Volume 1, 2010
Politics of Memory in Post-communist Europe

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Displaying: 1-10 of 26 documents


1. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 1
History of Communism in Europe A New Journal of Comparative Studies
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argument
2. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 1
Mihail Neamţu Studying Communism in Eastern Europe: Moral Clarity, Conceptual Diversity, and Interdisciplinary Methodology
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i. miscellanea
3. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 1
Vladimir Tismăneanu Coming to Terms with a Traumatic Past: Reflections on Democracy, Atonement, and Memory
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The collapse of communism and the subsequent transition to democracy of the Central and South-East European countries have been characterized by a dynamic approach towards their recent past. In those countries having pursued some legal and extra-legal remedies, ranging from criminal trials and truth commissions to lustrations, parliamentary inquiries, compensations, restitutions or governmental based investigations, the transitional dynamic has been hugely analysed in a tremendous corpus of literature. Such clear „signs” as carried out measures and their nature are on the other hand the sheer evidence of some shaken order and of the attempt on re-establishing the trust. Besides the trauma of the early Stalinist period, all the countries in the region (Romania included) had and still have to deal with “the grey veil of moral ambiguity” (Tony Judt) that was a defining feature of really existing socialism. These societies and most of their members have an uneasy conscience in relation with the past: complicities are often covered by the thick veil of denial, collaborationism is presented as an inevitable choice, and resistance is underestimated.
4. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 1
Paul Hollander Political Pilgrimages: Their Meaning, Aftermath, and Linkages
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Many distinguished Western intellectuals visited communist (or state socialist) countries (such as the former Soviet Union, China under Mao and Cuba under Castro) during the past century with a highly favourable predisposition and wrote admiring accounts of their experiences. These political pilgrimages demonstrated the capacity of intellectuals for wishful thinking and bizarre political misjudgements.More recently the same underlying attitudes which gave rise to these misjudgements found expression in anti-Americanism and the non-judgmental or sympathetic attitudes towards Islamic radicalism. These misjudgements and the associated illusions compel the revision of widely held conceptions ofintellectuals as individuals with highly developed critical faculties capable of distinguishing between appearance and reality.
5. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 1
Dr. Brendan Purcell Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Overcoming Personal, Political and Historical Amnesia through Literary-Aesthetic Anamnesis
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Very few writers have had such an impact on their culture as Alexander Solzhenitsyn on Soviet society in the ‘60s and ‘70s Recently published documents from the KGB archives show the problem he posed to the Soviet leadership—not because he was the only one to point out the massive falsehood and injustice of Soviet society but primarily due to the scathing power of his artistic diagnosis. Many of Solzhenitsyn’s writings in fictional, autobiographical, and publicistic genres can helpfully be understood in terms of Plato’s struggle in the Athens of his day for a “remembering” or anamnesis of what it is to be a human being, a human society, and the cosmos as transparent for divinity. That struggle, even though Plato doesn’t use the word “amnesia”, was against the refusal to remember. The Austrian writer Heimito von Doderer called that refusal the Apperzeptionsverweigerung or refusal to perceive (in his case, regarding National Socialism). Here we’ll explore Solzhenitsyn’s work in terms of his struggle to remember over against the ideological “refusal to perceive” in the three fundamental dimensions of personal, social and historical existence. Solzhenitsyn expands Mikhail Bakhtin’s understanding of “polyphonic” characterization as a key technique for articulating his diagnosis of Soviet totalitarianism. The discussion will instantiate what can be seen as his understanding of personal amnesia and anamnesis in Cancer Ward, his exploration of social amnesia and anamnesis in In the First Circle, and his treatment of historical amnesia and anamnesis in The Red Wheel and The Gulag Archipelago.
6. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 1
Jean-Claude Polet Histoire, Mémoire et Eschatologie
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History, as part of the “humanities department”, establishes facts, by way of investigating the sources. However, historians also pass a judgement over the moral attributes of past events. Given that the act of memorialisation is always incomplete, could one envisage an ideal horizon where justice and forgiveness are simultaneously restored? This eschatological perspective would require the reunion of past, present, and future tense. Without future, there is no hope. Without past, there is the risk of amnesia and the danger of minimizing the facts, actions, and responsibilities of the perpetrators against their victims. The present, in its turn, must be made fertile through the practice of recognition and repentance. It is only repentance that breaks through the iron cage of hatred and revenge (“eye for eye, tooth for tooth”). Peace is the event whereby reconciliation is enacted freely, by an appropriation of the past without external compulsion. Seen from an eschatological perspective, history and memory come to serve the common good.
7. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 1
John Ely Re-Membering Romania: A Ghost Story
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Remembering the year of 1989 does not always seem to produce a coherent narrative about the recent history of Romania. Most likely, when asked about their own experiences or what truly happened back then, Romanians would refer to it as “the events” because there still is a certain veil of ambiguity over their shared collective memory. The author’s personal encounters with such story tellers confirm that Romanians are still torn apart between various interpretations concerning what happened during December 1989.
ii. memory in museums and memorials
8. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 1
Radostina Sharenkova Forget-me(-not): Visitors and Museum Presentations about Communism Before 1989
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This essay opens up the question about museum presentations during the communist rule in Bulgaria that were arranged to materially prove the official state ideology. Their collections should validate the governing party’s pretences for historical continuity. Two museum institutions shall be discussed: “The Museum of Working Class Revolution”1 and the “Museum of Constructing Socialism”2. Both of them are analyzed as a propaganda machine for the dissemination of the party messages from the point of view of visitors’ perceptions of the recent communist past… Such museum presentations, normally part of the regional history museums or having a national status, were born with the regime and lived out some years after its end in 1989 when they were sentenced to “death” or closed behind the repositories’ walls.Two decades after 1989, Bulgaria still doesn’t have a separate museum space for presenting its recent past. In contrast, pre-1989 museum presentations aboutcommunism registered extraordinary numbers of visitors that later in the 1990s suddenly disappeared. Are people still interested in supporting official museums’narratives about communism? This article offers an anthropological analysis of the former visitors’ motivation and memories about the communist presentations20 years after their close. The research here has tried to provoke memory. It also attempted to find the reasons why people would consciously forget.
9. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 1
Simina Bădică The black hole paradigm. Exhibiting Communism in Post-Communist Romania
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In the early 1990s, Romania’s communist past was a subject of heated public and private debate in which the historian’s voice was hardly ever heard. It was the time when metaphorical accounts of the country’s difficult past were more fashionable than serious academic analysis. It was in the 1990s that the 1945-1989 period came to be described as “a black hole” in Romania’s history, as a time when Romanians were “out of history”. My argument is that Romanian exhibitions on communism have taken up this unfortunate metaphor and, although academic accounts of our recent past are currently more nuanced, the practice of exhibiting communism has remained confined to these old-fashioned dichotomies and to what I describe as the black hole paradigm.My article will mainly deal with two important museums, the only ones that had the determination and courage to establish, in the troubled 1990s, permanentexhibitions dealing with the country’s communist past. The Sighet Memorial Museum and the Romanian Peasant Museum are to this day still the only museums that exhibit communism every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Yet they were constructed in a specific memorial context. The influence of this is visible in the curatorial concept of the exhibitions, in their usage of space and architecture and in the basic argument they strive to convey about the communist past.
iii. artistic portrayals of memory
10. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 1
Masumi Kameda Collective Memory of Communism in Croatia since 1994: Comparative Analysis of Contemporary Arts and National Narratives
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The Croatian identity politics, especially after winning its independence from the former Yugoslavia, has focused on the self-image as one of the democratic European countries, not of Communist Balkan. The nostalgic stories about the Croatian kingdom and the image of Croatia as European country has been constructed, exhibited and consumed in Croatia today, displacing and eliminating the heritage of Communism era, the tragedy of the independence war, and the history of Yugoslavia. Croatian contemporary artists, in contrast, try to resist this collective “amnesia”.My paper analytically compares the attitude of the national cultural industry with the artistic performance and works by several artists in Croatia, focusing on the three mutually related topics: the concept of “Communist Balkan”, the collective memory of the Yugoslav wars and the view towards the cultural heritage which doesn’t fit to the homogeneous history of Croatia.