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11. 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.
12. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 1
Mihail Neamţu Studying Communism in Eastern Europe: Moral Clarity, Conceptual Diversity, and Interdisciplinary Methodology
13. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 1
Oana Popescu-Sandu “Something nice to remember” Silence and Memory between Generations in Two Gulag Films
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After 1989, several Bulgarian films engaged in the exploration of the communist past, but, as in the Romanian case, the period of exploration did not last very long. Yet the topic of the past did manage to reach a point of saturation. Bulgarian film scholar Dina Iordanova writes that “the gloomy 1950s were recycled ad nauseam […] Before long, the topic of human rights violations and moral compromises of the period was no longer attractive to filmmakers.” (New Bulgarian Cinema 61) Iordanova adds that Bulgarian film, after the early 1990s, turned away from the traumatic past to focus on other problems of identity, in a manner similar to the Russian chernukha genre. (60) My analysis of several Bulgarian films will show, that, like in the Romanian case, the line between productive exploration of the past and the repetition of communist paradigms is very thin.In my analysis of the Bulgarian film I focus less on the mechanisms of the confession proper and what it reveals about the past, and more on the way thepast and the present live together within the same body and the even same film frame. I will look at the crippling effect of the past on the present, at the effectthe unresolved life of parents has on children. Lilly’s confession to her son in Canary Season is not cathartic but deadly; Ţandără’s son is crippled, bothphysically (as he suffers from liver disease) and mentally.Canary Season (like The Afternoon of a Torturer), shows how the confession of parents does not help children and does not enlighten and unburden thepresent. The confession is sabotaged, delayed, undervalued or simply comes too late. The life of the children is meaningless and joyless unless they decideto escape the perpetual return of the dead and to the dead that is sometimes advocated by the older generations.
14. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 1
History of Communism in Europe A New Journal of Comparative Studies
15. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 1
Cristina Roman Vlad Georgescu: Politics and History. The Case of Romanian Communists (1944–1977)
16. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 1
Ina Dimitrova How We Raised a Monster: Constructing the Image of Socialism during the Post-Socialist Period in Bulgaria
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Drawing on Foucault’s analyses of the legal category of “monstrosity” the paper’s focus is the way in which socialism as part of Bulgarian history was largely constructed as a “monster”. It appears that the key characteristics of the latter could be found in the ways we handle this period of history and collective memory. I argue that the concept of “monster” provides a useful entry point for considering the entity “communism”, constructed after 1989 through different representational strategies and practices of assessment. It is revealing to observe some of the typical representational practices, performed during the transition, as practices raising a kind of historical or temporal monster.The paper consists of two parts. The first one elaborates the conceptual network of the discourse of monstrosity and its key features. The monster representsthe transgression of natural limits, it appears only when confusion comes up, for the monster combines the impossible and the forbidden. It is the casuistrythat is introduced into law by the confusion of nature. The second part draws on these features and conveys them in the thinking of history, practices of historical representation, the strategies of shaping the collective past and memory. The analysis is led by the idea, which Slavoj Žižek vividly expressed in the following way: “Perhaps the best way of encapsulating the gist of an epoch is to focus not on the explicit features that define its social and ideological edifices but on the disavowed ghosts that haunt it, dwelling in a mysterious region of nonexistent entities which non the less persist, continue to exert their efficacy” (Žižek 2001: 3).
17. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 1
Anastas Vangeli Facing the Yugosla v Communist Past in Contemporary Macedonia: Tales of Continuity, Nostalgia and Victimization
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The paper critically examines three main sets of narratives regarding the memory of the communist past and generally, three images of Yugoslavia that have been generated in today’s Macedonia. The narrative of continuity is centered around the embeddedness of Yugoslav communist past in the contemporaryMacedonian context, marked with the idea of “uninterruptedness beyond interruptions”, caused by the lack of a sudden and clear-cut regime change. The nostalgic narratives are the ones that take in account the importance of the political transition, yet they are focused on the idealized image of the Yugoslav past. The third approach towards the Yugoslav past is the revisionist-victimizing one, which confronts the mainstream image of Yugoslavia as a benevolent hegemon, sees communism as a dark chapter of Macedonian history and is dedicated to delegitimizing its remnants today.
18. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 1
Dr. Peter Ulrich Weiss Revolution without revolutionaries? On the debate about the nature of the upheaval in 1989-90 in the GDR and its protagonists asseen in the context of its 20th anniversary
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There is no doubt about the particular importance of the revolution of 1989 in the present German memory culture. The historical research isreaching an agreement on the question concerning the various factors bringing birth to the East-German uprising 20 years after this incident: the economical crisis, the mass emigration, the civil right movement, the mass protest movement, the reform movement in the grass roots of the SED and the strict refusal of any reforms in the SED leadership. But there are still controversial debates about the historical evaluation of the separate factors. Especially the actual role of the civil rights movement is considered an open-ended question. In this context former civil rights activists are arguing against its marginalisation and the national narrative of “1989”, which is dominated by the German unification.The article will focus on the present themes and forms of memory of the East-German revolution of 1989.
19. 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.
20. 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.