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History of Communism in Europe no. 11/2020

Transnational Biographies. Destinies at the Crossroads throughout the XX Century

Ravaged by two World Wars, consumed by totalitarian ideologies and regimes, and frozen for almost fifty years within a geopolitical tension between two worldwide military blocks, the XX century was the scene of fluctuating borders and volatile existences. Forged on the ruins of the former empires, nations were subsequently dismantled by wars, and (eventually) built again. Individuals were born in one country, lived their lives in another, and died in yet another one, sometimes even without ever leaving their hometown. Far more impressive is the phenomenon of cross border migration generated by all these hazards and misfortunes of the previous century. Individuals flew to escape political repression, ethnic resentment, race hatred, and/or confession antagonisms. Others sought adventure, the illusions of a better society and a nondiscriminatory world, and were driven by the idea of a decisive and inevitable revolution. Existences became thus intricate and intertwined with the different political, cultural, and social milieus it interacted with. Moreover, the various, cross-border, and transnational contexts in which the biographies evolved altered and influenced existences, while also being subject to permanent (re)constructions and manipulation. All these evolutions transformed the individual’s identity and molded their inner self towards internationalization, adjusting their existence to a life that transcended citizenship, race, ethnicity, confession, and borders.