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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?