History of Communism in Europe: Vol. 10 / 2019: “Mister Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Socio-economic and Political Consequences 30 Years After
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Mihai Stelian RUSU, Corneliu PINTILESCU and Dalia BÁTHORY: “Mister Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Socio-economic and Political Consequences 30 Years After [OPEN ACCESS]
I. QUICKSANDS – POSTSOCIALIST INSTITUTIONAL CHANGES
Svetlana DIMITROVA: Universitaires « de l’Est » face au politique après 1989
Abstract: The politicization of the intellectuals in the early 1990s now seem like a closed chapter in the history of the Eastern Bloc. Political life became more regulated before experiencing the entry of “unexpected” actors, labeled as “populists”. The academics’ political commitments, movements or believes have been interpreted as expression of “dissidence”, after 1989. The question of resistance, dissidence or opposition to the Soviet-type socialist regimes caught the attention of many researchers. The social scientists became particularly interested in peripheral presentations and written productions, as intellectual alternatives to the official line (Samizdat, seminars or movements). Most of the studies insisted on the political repercussions of these actions, living little doubt on the inherent political sense they carried. Does this heritage, developed over the past three decades, shape the present relation to politics? This article aims to question the relationship that two generations of academics have with politics. Particular affiliations impacted the processes of political and academic transformations. The analysis, based on research carried out in Bulgaria, aims to shed light on the dynamics that cross the “post-socialist” space and time.
Keywords: intellectuals, academics, political transformations, post-socialism
Mihai Stelian RUSU: Winds of Toponymic Change: Mapping Street Name Changes in Postsocialist Romania
Abstract: This paper examines the street name changes brought about in Romanian cities and towns during the period of postsocialist transformations. Based on a complete dataset comprising the entire urban street nomenclature existing prior to the regime change of 1989, the paper explores the geography of postsocialist toponymic change, as well as the latter’s temporal dynamic. Statistical analyses reveal major discrepancies in the scope of street name changes between Romania’s historical regions. The paper argues that one important factor that structures these regional variations is the ethnopolitics played out at the level of each locality. The analysis concludes by pointing out the instrumentality of street names as a powerful means of politicising the urban landscape, as well as their vulnerability, especially in the aftermath of significant political changes.
Keywords: critical toponymies; street names; political geography; politics of memory; urban geography.
Luciana JINGA: Gendered Dynamics of the Humanitarian Commitment for Children in the Postsocialist Context. A Case Study: France (initiator)– Romania (beneficiary) (1989–2007)
Abstract: The paper explores the extent to which “gender”, as a category of analysis, can be a useful tool in explaining the nature and the impact of humanitarian aid of western organizations towards children in Europe, between 1980 and 2007, using as a case study the relation France (initiator)-Romania (beneficiary). By Humanitarian aid, I refer to the material or logistical assistance provided for humanitarian purposes, as it evolved during the twentieth century and culminated with the emergence of a new, transnational humanitarianism, with permanent, professional actors.”. For this study, gender is understood as a social construction and the assignment of specific roles, responsibilities, and expectations to women and to men in the social sector, which includes the policies regarding health, education, and sanitation.
Keywords: gender, humanitarian aid, children, Romania, post-socialism
Andreea CÂRSTEA: Fighting “The Ghosts of the Past”. Communism and Lustration as Key Topics of the First Romanian Electoral Debate (May 17, 1990) – A Review of Context and Discourse
Abstract: The general perception regarding the political discourse produced in Romania after 1989 is that the actors (politicians, media, and the public) prioritized a number of themes, which, in spite of their circumstantial dimensions, tended to become strongly established topics. From this perspective, transitional politics became a discursive locus for a number of issues, the actors repeatedly returning to the same ‘well-worn roads’. Using as corpus samples of discourse from the first electoral campaign post-1989, the study analyses if and how the controversial theme of the recent historical legacies became a crucial topic during that interval, investigating the main approaches used by the actors and discussing whether or not these settled the frame of interpretation for the following interval. The paper draws on critical and historical discourse analysis, interpreting discourse as both text and context, language and action, discursive event and social situation. It represents an analysis of a topic that, over the years, has become a thematic keystone in political discourse.
Keywords: communism, post-communism and lustration; electoral discourse; discourse analysis
II. POSTSOCIALIST CULTURAL SHIFTS
Lotte THAA: The Revolution Will Not Be Musealised. Remnants of the GDR’s ‘Peaceful Revolution’ in the Museum
Abstract: This paper offers a detailed reconstruction of an exhibition about the biggest protest rally of the GDR, which took place on November 4, 1989 in Berlin. Drawing from archival sources, as well as interviews, I will outline the exhibition’s design and the intentions of its creators. Subsequently, I will establish correlations with like-minded, as well as antagonistic efforts to musealise the events later termed the “peaceful revolution”. Their comparison will allow some conclusions about the becoming of the dominant politics of memory today. By pointing to their gaps and blind spots, I want to advocate a more nuanced memory of this decisive period in German history.
Keywords: memory, German history, musealisation
Gabija PURLYTE: Representations of the Soviet Period and Its Traces in the Works of Contemporary Artists from the Baltic States
Abstract: This paper examines how Soviet and post-Soviet history is presented and reflected upon in select works of contemporary artists from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. As the contemporary art scenes of these newly independent states developed and joined the global contemporary art circuit, a number of Baltic artists have participated in the recent “historiographic turn” in art. Through the analysis of examples, we look at four approaches employed by these artists when tackling the subject of history seen through personal narratives; history told from the point of view of ethnic/linguistic minorities; a focus on women’s experiences; and a debate on the preservation, removal, and building of commemorative monuments. This paper aims to show how these artists integrate reflections of the Soviet and post-Soviet experience into the building of complex, inclusive, positive post-Soviet identities.
Keywords: contemporary arts, Baltic states, Soviet period
Davjola NDOJA: German National Socialist Black Metal: Contemporary Neo–Nazism and the Ongoing Struggle with Antisemitism
Abstract: This paper is an exploration of the ideology of National Socialism in the work and activity of the German terrorist group and Black Metal band Absurd. Historians are divided—and many have criticized how postwar Germany dealt with denazification—, but the fact is that Nazi ideology has been part of the political and social spheres in Germany since then. Neo-Nazism saw a revival especially in the first years after unification, which coincided with the beginning of Absurd’s story and career. Today, they hold the title of the National Socialist Black Metal act par excellence, with a 28-year music career actively supporting and promoting Nazi ideology. Absurd makes a very interesting case study, since the band has played a key role in preserving and transmitting Nazi ideology, not just in Germany, but also worldwide.
Keywords: postsocialism, Neo-Nazism, music, Germany
Dalia BÁTHORY: Pop Memory. Clickbait and the Lives of the former Romanian Dictators Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu, 30 Years After
Abstract: Studying the social memory of socialist regimes has generated extensive literature and numerous interpretations with regard to recollections of experiences of the socialist past. Amid such rich literature, this paper takes a novel approach, employing the concept of pop memory to explain the phenomenon of clickbait in the virtual press of Central and Eastern Europe. The media analysed focuses on the former dictators of Romania and was generally made available during 2019, 30 years after the bloody revolution of 1989. My aim is to demonstrate how, by drawing on former socialist propaganda, socialist leaders Elena and Nicolae Ceausescu are transformed in such media, from brutal leaders to pop characters. The results indicate Romanians’ strong “affective positioning” towards the socialist decades, connected to a practice of remembering of the socialist past, that has been previously disregarded, but which is relevant to understand people’s curiosities and the sources they use to replenish their need of information.
Keywords: pop memory, collective memory, online media
III. BOOK REVIEW
Iuliana CINDREA-NAGY: Mark Harrison, One Day We Will Leave Without Fear: Everyday Lives Under the Soviet Police State, Hoover Institution Press Publication, Stanford, California, 2016
ISSN 2069-3192 (paperback)
ISSN 2069-3206 (electronic)