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41. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 4
Rebekah Park Remembering Resistance, Forgetting Torture: Compromiso and Gender in Former Political Prisoners’ Oral History Narratives inPost-dictatorial Argentina
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This paper focuses on how thirty-nine former political prisoners in Córdoba, Argentina spoke about their compromiso (political commitment) to a leftist,socialist-leaning political project during the Cold War. After being imprisoned in the 1970s and 1980s and then marginalized after being freed, they began to formally record their stories in the mid-2000s as part of their political activism. In these thirty-nine oral history narratives, collected in 2008 and 2009, women, byand large, spoke about personal experiences in clandestine detention centres, while the men focused on Argentina’s broader history of social and labour movements. This paper theorizes that men interviewed in this study speak about values of solidarity and resistance in broad historic-social terms, while their women counterparts focus on personal experiences; in this regard, men and women both focus on the most salient, and available, site of political commitment for their respective genders. Identifying such a distinction between the stories told by male and female survivors is relevant for the ways in which Argentina’s history is told in memorialized spaces, encouraging curators, historians, and archivists to make use of both personal narratives as well as the broadly historical ones, and is crucial to understanding how acts of resistance and solidarity were gendered, even though social transformation is assumed to be “gender-neutral.”
42. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 5
Ștefan Bosomitu Becoming in the Age of Proletariat. The Identity Dilemmas of a Communist Intellectual Throughout Autobiographical Texts.Case Study: Tudor Bugnariu
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Romanian historiography generally states that in Communist Romania there was no intellectual capable of stimulating a “heresy” comparable to those in Yugoslavia (Milovan Djilas), Hungary (György Lukács) or Poland (Adam Schaff ). This is almost true. While the Romanian Communist/Workers Party (RCP/RWP) despised intellectuals, even if they were docile and obedient, in the upper echelons of the RCP/RWP one could hardly find true intellectuals. However, there were some cases that can challenge this narrative – Lucreţiu Pătrăşcanu, Grigore Preoteasa, Miron Constantinescu or Tudor Bugnariu. My paper will discuss the case of Tudor Bugnariu, one of the intellectuals seduced by the communist project and ideology in interwar Romania, who later managed to occupy important offices within the RCP/RWP and the state structures. By analyzing the narratives of Tudor Bugnariu’s several autobiographical texts, my paper will examine and explain his becoming and the construction of his self-identity and of his “revolutionary” self.
43. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 5
Dalia Báthory Weaving the Narrative Strings of the Communist Regimes – Building Society with Bricks of Stories
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The long duration of the Communist regime cannot be explained without closely looking at the manners of creating shared meanings and agreement on explanations on the shared historical context. Narratives of legitimation, some easier to depict than others, were almost as important as the use of force in imposing the specific values of the regime. In other words, soft power was the buttress of hard power. But the nuances are numerous, once we put this otherwise obvious remark under closer scrutiny. The case studies presented in this issue of the yearbook underline the practice of combining soft power with hard power: that is, legitimating narrative discourses transmitting sets of values and beliefs, backed up by policies of various forms of violence.
44. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 5
Renata Jambrešić Kirin Yugoslav Women Intellectuals: From a Party Cell to a Prison Cell
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The Yugoslav socialist framework enabled major advances in what concerns the legal, economic and social equality of women, advances which radically changed their traditionally subordinated family and social position. In spite of the postwar period of revolutionary enthusiasm, female political activism and the access of women intellectuals to the male-dominated spheres of journalism, diplomacy, administration and governmental offices did not exist for long. Taking into account memoirs and oral histories of five distinguished women, the article reveals the reasons for the Party’s antifeminist attitudes: a) the political fear of ambitious female “quality staff ”; b) the ideological fear of the women guardians of the traditional and religious foundations of collective identity; c) a cultural mistrust toward the mobile woman who easily transcends family, social and ethnic boundaries. These biographical sources reveal that any attempt at free thought and autonomous action outside of the party line was severely punished.
45. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 5
Barbara Loach Topographies of Identity and Memory: Berlin’s “Ghosts” and “Book of Clouds” by Chloe Aridjis
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The focus of this study is the city of Berlin as a site of contested spaces and its representations in the novel Book of Clouds (2009) by Chloe Aridjis. As a number of recent books on Berlin have indicated, the ongoing efforts to physically re-configure historical sites in the city and construct a new post-unification identity for the capital and the nation has produced dissonance between long-standing national narratives of identity and the challenges presented by new identity narratives. The foundation of cultural identity, social memory, is political, shaped and wielded by those in power. Yet, as Michel de Certeau has posited, such power can be contested at the street level where ruptures can be observed. Book of Clouds, the first novel by transnational author Chloe Aridjis, explores the relationship of identity and memory as Tatiana, a young Mexican Jewish woman living in Berlin in the first decade of the twenty-first century, observes and interacts with the city and its inhabitants from an outsider’s perspective.
46. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 5
Sebastian Haller “Diesem Film liegen Tatsachen zugrunde ...” The Narrative of Antifascism and Its Appropriation in the East German Espionage Series Das unsichtbare Visier (1973-1979)
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Since narratives of legitimation have to adapt to shifting discursive environments, they cannot be regarded as static phenomena. To present a sound understanding of their embedment in a specific context, narratives have to be approached from a variety of perspectives – they necessitate, in other words, a“thick description”. This paper addresses the narrative of antifascism as a central element of public discourse throughout the history of the German DemocraticRepublic (GDR) and contextualizes it specifically in East German television culture. In addition to providing an understanding of antifascism as an ideologicalsignifier exclusively for historical phenomena, such as National Socialism (NS) or Italian fascism, this paper proposes to conceptualize the narrative of antifascism – as it was officially defined in the GDR/SBZ – as a discursive formation that encompasses various political narratives such as militarism and imperialism, as well as past and present political events. Based on this assumption, the highly successful espionage series Das unsichtbare Visier (1973-1979), which was produced by the DEFA and broadcasted by the East German state television (DFF/DDR-F), will be discussed in relation to its exploitation of the narrative of antifascism. By approaching these issues, it is the objective of this paper to examine the practices of the appropriation of the narrative of antifascism in an era that was marked by the development of popular (socialist) television culture and, moreover, to contribute to the discussion of the dialectic between stabilityand flexibility that is inherent to narratives.
47. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 5
Giuseppe Perri Korenizacija: an Ambiguous and Temporary Strategy of Legitimization of Soviet Power in Ukraine (1923-1933) and its Legacy
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The Soviet government showed evidence of poor linearity in its policies towards nationalities. Not only does this policy appear to have been contradictory in several places, but has undergone changes and transformations over the years, so as to make it almost unreadable. Meanwhile, in order to attract the nationalities that were part of the Russian Empire and in accordance with the principle enunciated by Lenin, namely that the Empire was a “prison of peoples”, in the first decade of Soviet power an ambiguous policy of enhancement of nationalities was passed that received the name of indigenization or korenizacija; ambiguous, because the aim was also to categorize and control the population, according to a typical perspective of colonial power. The Soviet constitution of 1924 gave the center many powers; the Republics had the same powers as the Russian regions, while the party remained centralized; the use of national languages in the educational system was increased, but not in universities. In Ukraine, the Bolshevik Party was dominated by the Russians and it was thanks to Lenin, who rejected the proposal, that the emergence of an autonomous republic in Donbas was prevented. Stalin, on the other hand, favoured korenizacija especially for the alliances with the local Bolshevik leaders, given the centralist tendencies of Trockij and his other opponents. The formal cancellation of korenizacija in Ukraine was ratified by two secret decrees of the Politbjuro on the 14th and 15th of December 1932, at the height of the grain requisition campaign. In many regards, korenizacija is still considered a “golden age” of Ukrainian culture and language, but its ambiguity and tragic end are little known.The article uses published or archival primary sources and the main secondary sources on the topic (Martin Hirsch, etc.). It is part of a broader research project on the contemporary history of Ukraine conducted by the author at the University of Brussels.
48. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 5
Radu Stancu The Political Use of Capital Punishment as a Legitimation Strategy of the Communist Regime in Romania, 1944-1958
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In this article, I will describe the evolution of capital punishment and the influence that ideology had during the founding years of Romania’s communist regime, until 1958, when the legislation and application of capital punishment reached its highest peak. Starting with the punishment of war criminals and fascists, I will then describe how the death penalty was used for political motives in a period when the regime had to consolidate, legitimate and fight different enemies. With ups and downs like The Death Penalty Law of 1949 and the abolitionist attempt in 1956, it reached its climax in 1958-1959 after the enactment of Decree no. 318/1958.
49. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 5
Ioana Ursu Narrativity and Legitimation in the Discourse of the Communist Archives: Analysing the Files of “The Burning Bush Organization”
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Our paper proposes to follow the history of the “Burning Bush”, a spiritual and cultural movement in the 1940s in Romania that had proposed the solution of spiritual resistance to communism through culture and faith. The analysis holds as key-concepts: discourse analysis, narrativity, semantics and hermeneutics, following the discourse of the Securitate’s archives with reference to the Burning Bush in terms of: - conflictual discourses: inquisitor vs. imprisoned; - motives and themes of the incriminatory discourse of the Securitate; - the existence of a master narrative of the archives.
50. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 5
Andrea Talabér Medieval Saints and Martyrs as Communist Villains and Heroes: National Days in Czechoslovakia and Hungary during Communism
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This paper examines the transformation of medieval figures from state “heroes” during the interwar years into “villains” of the Communist state in Czechoslovakia (St Wenceslas and Jan Hus) and Hungary (St Stephen) through their national day commemorations. I argue that the negative treatmentof these medieval heroes was not clear-cut and, especially in Hungary, they enjoyed a comeback of sorts during the second half of the Communist era. This article thus demonstrates, through official commemorative events, that the Communist regimes of Czechoslovakia and Hungary to some extent were ready to continue with national symbols and traditions that were firmly established in the previous era and had apparently been abolished by the Communist regimes themselves.
51. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 5
Camelia Leleșan The Power of the Ritual – the System of Rites as a Form of Legitimacy in the Soviet Union –
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The end of the Second World War produced a shift in the Soviet mode of legitimation; the original values of Marxism-Leninism were combined with those of patriotic nationalism in a new form of ideology in which the idea of The Great Patriotic War became one of the founding myths. Especially after Stalin’s death in 1953 and the beginning of the process of de-Stalinization, the Soviet political elites made an attempt to change their strategy by reducing reliance on coercion and strengthening political legitimacy in order to gain compliance from the ruled population. The system of socialist ritual became one of the most important legitimation procedures. The political elites came to regard the system of ritual as an important factor in maintaining and strengthening the legitimacy of the regime and their own position in the power structure.
52. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 5
Nikola Baković From Mothers’ Day to “Grandma” Frost. Popularisation of New Year Celebrations as an Ideological Tool. Example of ČačakRegion (Serbia) 1945-1950
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Th is microhistorical case-study of the role of the Antifascist Front of Women of Yugoslavia in popularising New Year celebrations in the Serbian municipality of Čačak aims to examine the internalisation of the communist discourse through ritual practices serving to infiltrate the private life of the local community and to expand the Party’s support basis. In the first post-war years, the new authorities not only tolerated, but tacitly approved and aided celebrations of Christian holidays. Yet this policy changed radically in 1948, when local mass organisations were instructed to replace winter holidays with New Year festivities, based on the Soviet model. These events bore an observably ideologised character, since New Year’s Day was not only supposed to mark the calendar year’s end, but also to symbolise the new beginning as a ubiquitous simulacrum for a new socialist society. The primary agents of this novel collective identity practice were women, champions of the socialist emancipation project, whereas the main channel for dissemination were children, which embedded this measure within the farsighted project of tempering a “new man.”
53. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 6
Dalia Báthory Authoritarian and Post-authoritarian Practices of Building Collective Memory in Central and Eastern Europe
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Among the most used expressions in scholarly articles concerning collective memory, is “dealing with the past”, or its more specific alternative, “dealing with the traumatic past”. This is a rather inexact formulation, because what scholars, artist, curators deal with is not the past in itself but the manner in which it is narrated and represented, or remembered, reconstructed. A series of questions are triggered by this statement: who “remembers”, for what purpose, with what consequences?The scope of this yearbook is to present two different ways of approaching the construction of collective remembrance: the authoritarian one and the post-authoritarian one. Th e articles discuss case studies of collective memory and identity building in Communist Romania, comparative studies of participative art in post-authoritarian regimes in Central and Eastern Europe, or intricate artistic approaches of traumatic collective memories.
54. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 6
Claudia Șerbănuță Memory Exercises in Public Libraries
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The main roles of libraries are developing and providing access to collections of cultural heritage. While the specific policies necessary to accomplish these roles may vary across different types of libraries, these institutions have at their core a dual role in preserving and supporting access to documents illustrating an era of knowledge and culture. Libraries are thus significant institutions in the process of learning, but also in that of remembering and forgetting at a social level. This article provides an overview of the structure and organization of the public library system in the last two decades of the Communist regime in Romania. As part of a larger information history project, the research discusses the characteristics of this system created to support mass education and the ways in which public libraries also became institutions of memory in Communist Romania. The description of the library system structure is enriched by an overview of the professional training available for librarians and descriptions of the main library services related to access to collections and memories. The analysis of archival materials and oral history interviews with librarians document how these services were implemented and delve into the challenges encountered. Partial access to knowledge and information was a core part of the offered library services. As a consequence, services that were part of the Communist library system could be a source of long-term memory impairment at the social level.
55. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 6
Radu Preda What Must We Not Forget
56. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 6
Ruxandra Câmpeanu “Revis(it)ing the Romanian Cultural Heritage” during Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej’s Regime: The Role of Literary Critics in the Battle for the Canon as a Form of Preserving the Cultural Memory of a Community
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As an instrument of preserving the cultural memory of a community, the literary canon is usually a highly stable structure in its core elements. However, with the advent of the Communist regime after the Second World War, the Romanian literary canon underwent a drastic process of reconstruction. As early as the 1940s, what was euphemistically dubbed “revisiting our cultural heritage” actually equated to a radical revision—a purge of the literary canon through the fi lter of Marxism-Leninism. Not only writers of literature, but literary critics themselves were subjected to this process. In this paper, I aim to discuss the role played by literary critics active during Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej’s regime in rehabilitating their predecessors. My focus will be on the press debate surrounding Titu Maiorescu’s rehabilitation in 1963.
57. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 6
Bianca Felseghi Profiling the Audience: Theatre And Repertoires in the 1970’s Romania: Case Study: The National Theatre in Cluj-Napoca
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During the late 60s and the beginning of the 1970s, the changes within the Communist Party which followed the death of Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, the former Secretary General, led to a certain openness for culture and arts, from an ideological point of view. The so-called ideological “thaw” would not last more than 6 years, but it was needed all along in order for the new nomenklatura system of Ceauşescu’s generation to take over the rule of the state and of the party. This is the broader context in which the relationship between the theatre repertories, the audience and the politics would develop further in a very insidious way. Facing a massive “peasantization of the working class” due to the regime’s investments in the industrial sector, the configuration of the urban population in Romanian cities had changed significantly. The inflow of poorly educated persons had a strong negative impact on the efforts to educate the urban population in the working-class socialist ethics. In this study we are profiling the beneficiaries of the cultural policies of the regime: What were their cultural background and their expectations regarding theatre and why did the authorities intervene in regulating the theatre market?
58. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 6
Irina Hasnaş-Hubbard Memorialization of Challenging Topics: Artists’ Interventions as Examples of Museum (Good) Practice
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Challenging topics in museums can guide museum professionals in developing modern methods of displaying their heritage, but also in offering reinterpretations of existing collections. The public also looks for challenging topics—injustice, loss, pain, or death—and many museums manage to attract visitors by offering them places to debate, reflect, or take action. These topics, if presented in an exhibition, could engage practising artists in an ideological exchange with the museum institution. Our statement is that artists with curatorial interest can scrutinise the ways in which cultural heritage is revealed or interpreted for the contemporary public. The uncomfortable or uncertain aspects of recent and contemporary history are of great interest for contemporary artists and we assume that the Communist era in Romania could be further interpreted by artists in future museum places.
59. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 6
Ioana Hașu Recalling Trauma: Photographs as Links to a Memory Chain for Survivors of Armed Anti-Communist Resistance in Romania
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Using the concept of postmemory—coined by Mariane Hirsch—this paper explores the role of photographs in recalling past trauma in two families who participated in the anticommunist armed resistance in Romania. Members of these families were executed and the survivors had to endure further persecution. The interviews revealed that some pictures offer the frame for remembering suppressed memories. The images have peculiar meanings for different generations of the same family. For the participants in this study, seeing the photographs equates to reliving a past trauma and giving a new meaning to it. Pictures function as realms of encounter and reconciliation between present and past generations of the same family. The first outcome of the process is memory recovery; in this, people also recover their identity and the result is transgenerational healing. Some of the interviews discussed in this paper were done with members of my family.
60. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 6
Ewa Janisz Atrocity and Aesthetics: The Politics of Remembering and Representing the Holocaust in Polish Contemporary Art: Zbigniew Libera’s “Lego Concentration Camp”
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This paper discusses the politics of remembering and the representation of the Holocaust in Polish contemporary art referring to the Lego Concentration Camp (1996) by Zbigniew Libera. The paper presents the ways in which Libera’s work challenges the traditional ways of representing the Holocaust and how it engages with issues such as the relation between atrocity and aesthetics. The associations brought to this mode of representation by the notions of game and toys and whether theatricality and play are in dialogue with or violate the historical experience of the Holocaust is also discussed. The paper investigates the specificity of the Polish context in the way the Holocaust is approached and the reactions these artistic attempts raise in the public. Do the unconventional and shocking representations help understand the Holocaust or do they create the opposite effect of misguided and trivialised reading of history?