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61. 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.
62. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 6
Radu Preda What Must We Not Forget
63. 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.
64. 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?
65. 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.
66. 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.
67. 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?
68. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 6
Andrea Brait The Nation as a Victim: Perspectives in Hungarian Museums
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Based on retrospection on the reappraisal of the past in Hungary since 1989, this text analyses the representation of the Communist era in the Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum, the Terror Háza Múzeum and the Hadtörténeti Múzeum Budapest. All three museums place the suppression of the Hungarian people at the centre of their narration, while depicting the Hungarian nation as a victim. The 1956 revolution is staged as a central turning point in the second half of the 20th century, which supplies the narrative with a fresh set of martyrs. In this context, Imre Nagy not only takes the role of an icon with regard to the events of 1956, but his re-interment is also seen as a climax of the turnabout of 1989.
69. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 6
Melinda Harlov A Square that Has Seen it All: The History of the Nowadays ’56-ers Square in Budapest
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This research discusses the history of a certain space in the capital of Hungary as the physical concretization of the Soviet Union’s ideological impact on the country. Even though this 360 meters × 85 meters territory has had a very short lifetime of circa sixty years, it has been the location of many political and cultural events of nationwide importance. After the territorial and chronological contextualization, this article introduces the story of all the planned, established, demolished or removed public buildings and statues that were located there from the mid-20th century until 2011. The text contains art analysis and comparative research methodologies to point out the conscious allusions and unconscious correlations of different regimes and their aims and ideologies in time. The third section provides possible explanations and analyzing tools to understand the relevance (political representational role) and the possible future options (including the evaluation of the recent past) of the square. Lastly, the paper points out further possible research directions to investigate the broader topic of the connection between an urban location and the representational will of the contemporary leadership from different angels.
70. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 6
Maria-Alina Asavei Participatory Cultures of Remembrance: The Artistic Memory of the Communist Past in Romania and Bulgaria
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This paper examines the participatory trend in cultural memory practices, focusing on the participatory artistic memory of communism in Romania and Bulgaria from a comparative perspective. On the one hand, these participatory artistic memory projects examine the ways in which ordinary people and contemporary artists share their memories of the communist past outside of the officially sanctioned interpretations, aiming to foster their own version of “monument” that does not necessarily follow the ossifying politics of monuments. On the other hand, a participatory memory culture does not always necessarily reflect the unequal cultural capital of the participating social actors and the dissimilar political commitments. This mnemonic practice ought not to be exclusively associated with the struggle between the narratives of the elites and the cultural expressions of those marginalized. Participatory memory practices might also facilitate cordial encounters among persons with dissimilar political commitments and unequal cultural capital.
71. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 7
Dalia Báthory “Talkin’ bout a Revolution”
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The proclamation of liberal democracy as the absolute winner of the Cold War and the emergence of “prosecutorial” history after the fall of the Eastern Communist Bloc seemed to have established a certain path for researchers with regard to postwar dictatorships in Central and Eastern Europe. A closer look at the meaning of “revolution” as well as at new research efforts reveal strong connections between the East and the West during that time, that determined changes in the pattern and style of the scientific discourse analysing the post-war decades.
72. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 7
Enis Sulstarova “‘Eurocommunism is Anti-Communism”: The Attitude of the Party of Labour of Albania about Western Communism in the early 1980s
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Following the rift with China, Albania found itself on a lonely road towards pretending to protect the purity of the Marxism-Leninism in Europe. Although diplomatic relations with the West were restricted only to trade, the Albanian Communist leader, Enver Hoxha, was interested in recent developments inside Western Communist parties. Through Eurocommunist theorizations, the parties in Italy, France and Spain abandoned revolutionary aims, incorporated democracy in their ideology and tried to build electoral coalitions with socialist parties and other left-wing forces. By contrast, the Albanian Enver Hoxha considered that Communist revolution was still possible in the world, and the Communist parties still acted as Leninist revolutionary vanguards. From this perspective, he denounced Eurocommunism as a continuation of “revisionism”. This paper will present the attitude of the Party of Labour of Albania about Western Communism by placing it in its historical context and framing it in light of broader debates inside the European Communist movement.
73. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 7
Klejd Këlliçi, Ermira Danaj Promoting Equality, Perpetuating Inequality: Gender Propaganda in Communist Albania
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During Socialism, the “women’s issue” was among the key state policies in Albania. The emancipation issue followed a pattern similar to other socialist countries, called the “women’s emancipation model”. It was part both of the state rhetoric and the general need to include women in the “socialist transformative processes”. This involved policies that supported women’s participation in the productive labour force, as well as the introduction of new laws that promoted the equality between men and women.A reconfiguration of gender roles and the gender division of tasks occurred during socialism. In Albania, this process had two distinct phases. From 1944 onward women’s emancipation was thought of in terms of their participation as an additional force in the post-war reconstruction effort, even though sporadic and aligned with the primary political needs of the regime. The second phase occurred during the ‘60s following the Party’s directive “For the complete emancipation of women” (1967). This phase was considered strategic as it coincided with the efforts to industrialize the country and to eventually fully centralize the control over the territory.This paper aims to investigate the entanglements between gender propaganda and gender practices. For this purpose, we analyse various party speeches and policies as well as examples of “heroines” and propaganda movies. A thorough analysis of State Archives and other documents was undertaken to substantiate this investigation.
74. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 7
Mara Mărginean Mutable Socialist Displays: Transnational Romanian Architectural Exchanges during the First Two Decades of the Cold War
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This article examines the making of Romanian diplomatic practices during the first two decades of the Cold War by analyzing the activity of the Romanian Institute for Cultural Relations with the Foreign Countries (IRRCS) in the field of architecture. I investigate how transnational cultural exchanges conducted jointly by party members and architects adjusted the professional careers of the latter. Questions related to what was good or bad, which images were still valid iconic representations of the country, what values the architects should share, or how to depict architecturally modernisation and the nation dominated the IRRCS debates. Using archival information consisting of reports of cultural activities abroad, foreign travelers’ statements, itineraries, exhibitions’ materials and photographic records etc., I address Romania’s self-representation practices at home and abroad constructed in relation to the Other – the Easterner and Westerner, in close connection to the shift in the country’s economic interests.
75. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 7
Francesco Zavatti Propaganda across the Iron Curtain: The Institute of Historical and Socio-Political Research affiliated to the Central Committee of the Romanian Communist Party and its Network in Italy
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This article examines a case study of international Communist propaganda during the Cold War. The Institute of Historical and Socio-Political Research (ISISP), a historical propaganda organization affiliated to the Romanian Communist Party (RCP), succeeded in penetrating the Iron Curtain by distributing its works through a social network provided by the Italian Liberation Movement Institute, and in publishing its works in Italy, with the help of the Gramsci Institute, as well as publishers like Editori Riuniti and Nicola Teti. The ISISP established a mutually beneficial partnership with various Italian actors: ISISP and the regime succeeded in publishing international propaganda; the Italian publishing houses were paid by ISISP to print and distribute their edited volumes, with the double advantage of keeping political ties with the RCP while also protecting their own limited finances.
76. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 7
Elisa Goudin Faire collaborer artistes, intellectuels et ouvriers pour créer une société meilleure: les stratégies politiques du SED en matière de gestion de la culture en RDA
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Les archives municipales de Berlin ont conservé tous les documents produits par la Maison berlinoise du travail culturel, Berliner Haus für Kulturarbeit, qui a été fondée en 1953 sous le nom de Berliner Volkskunstkabinett et dissoute en 1991. Ces archives permettent de suivre en filigrane les réflexions conduites en RDA sur le thème de l’action culturelle publique, dont les deux interrogations principales peuvent se résumer ainsi : comment peut-on encourager différentes formes de participation des travailleurs et ainsi favoriser le développement d’un art censé être authentiquement populaire et acquis à la cause de la révolution socialiste ? Et comment l’art peut-il être le vecteur d’une identification « nationale » avec l’État de RDA ?Nous proposons d’étudier ces archives sous l’angle du combat mené par le SED, le parti communiste au pouvoir en RDA, pour créer une société révolutionnaire, pour rendre possible l’utopie d’une société parfaitement égalitaire par le moyen de l’art. En effet, si les choix économiques, politiques, sociaux du SED sont bien connus aujourd’hui, les chercheurs se sont pour l’instant moins intéressés au langage du politique dans le domaine artistique, et notamment à la question centrale de savoir comment ce régime concevait son rôle et sa responsabilité à l’égard des pratiques artistiques des ouvriers.
77. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 7
Alexandra Iancu The ‘Westernisation’ of the Communist Elites in Romania: Elite Modernity, Integration and Change
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The ministerial recruitment strategies in Communist Romania are a symmetric replica of the elite selection patterns in parliamentary democracies. Starting with the mid-60s, all the major traditional pathways to power formally mirror mechanisms of the elite selection and differentiation, which are commonly encountered in Western democracies. During the Communist regime, “atypical” credentials such as education (international degrees), academia, and the economic experiences also increased the likelihood of a promotion in public office. Starting from the notable differences between the Romanian elites and those in other Communist countries in the region, the paper argues that intertwined patterns of “Westernisation” and patrimonial-type credentials contributed to the consolidation of the Romanian Communist Party and hindered, in the aftermath of the regime change, the first attempts at elite renewal and democratisation.
78. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 7
Roman Jankowski Media, Censorship and the Church in the People’s Republic of Poland
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During the Communist regime, after Poland was officially proclaimed the People’s Republic of Poland, the aim of the Polish Communist government was to control all aspects of society. Communist ideals were enforced in books and other publications; censorship was introduced on all published materials. This paper aims to present the situation of (print) media in People’s Poland, as well as to provide a background and description of Polish censorship. Additionally, this paper will exposit and examine the socio-political role of Tygodnik Powszechny (Universal Weekly) in Polish society. As TP is a Catholic weekly, an outline of the unique socio-political role of the Polish Roman Catholic Church in communist Poland will accompany the above analysis. This paper is based on the research conducted by the author in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Arts degree written and defended at the Central European University in Budapest in 2012.
79. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 7
Álvaro Cúria Southern European Communist Parties’ Public Reaction to the 1989/1991 Set of Events in Eastern Europe: Framing the Analysis through a New Perspective
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This article explains the methodology behind our PhD thesis, that describes how five Southern European Communist parties2 reacted, through their party press, to the events that took place in Eastern Europe from 1989 to 1991, such as the Fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, the deposition of the Romanian dictator in December 1989 or the Soviet Coup d’etat in August 1991. We describe an interdisciplinary methodology which combines elements of history of the present, historiography of Communism and communication sciences. We will summarize our study, after explaining our methodology and adapting the framing party press for the purposes of this work. Finally, we’ll draw the conclusions after presenting one specific case: the interpretations provided by each party following the parliamentary elections of June 1989 in Poland.
80. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 7
Boris Popivanov Between the Past and the West: Bulgarian Post-Communist Left in Search of Legitimacy
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Communist successor parties in Central and Eastern Europe have adapted to the new realities according to a popular model differentiating between pragmatic reform and leftist retreat. The Bulgarian Socialist Party, which succeeded the ruling Communists, seems to diverge from this model, neither fully transforming into a Western European social democratic formation nor remaining a Communist one while keeping elements of both. The reasons behind this ambivalent position are examined according to the party’s orientation toward its own past in its three dimensions: program messages, voters’ attitudes and commemoration of Communist legacy.