HCE 10

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 (coming soon)

The Revolution Will Not Be Musealized. Remnants of the GDR’s ‘Peaceful Revolution’ in the Museum

Lotte Thaa
Freie Universität Berlin
Abstract: This paper offers a detailed reconstruction of an exhibition about the biggest protest rally of the GDR, which took place on November 4th 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 musealize the events later coined as the “peaceful revolution”. Their comparison will allow some conclusions about the coming to be 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 of German history.

Representations of the Soviet period and its traces in the works of contemporary artists from the Baltic states

Gabija Purlyte
University of Strasbourg
Abstract: This paper examines how Soviet and post-Soviet history is presented and reflected upon in the work 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 a few select examples, we look at four of the main approaches employed by these artists when tackling the subject: 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 that these artists have fostered debates on the politically difficult subjects which remain unresolved in Baltic societies.

German National Socialist Black Metal: Contemporary Neo-Nazism and the On-Going Struggle with Antisemitism

Davjola Ndoja
University of Victoria
Abstract: This research 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. Neo-Nazism saw a revival especially in the first years after unification, coinciding 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 worldwide.

Pop memory. Clickbait and infotainment about the lives of the former Romanian dictators, 30 years after

Dalia Báthory
The Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of the Romanian Exile

Fighting “The Ghosts of the Past”. Communism and Lustration as Key Topics of the Electoral Discourse between 1990 and 2000

Andreea Elena Cârstea
Independent researcher
Abstract: The general perception regarding the political discourse produced in Romania after 1989 is that the actors (politicians, media and the public) privileged a number of themes, which, in spite of their circumstantial dimensions, tended to become strongly established topics. From this perspective, the transitional politics became a discursive locus for a number of issues, the actors returning repeatedly to the same ‘well-worn roads’. A possible explanation for the evolution of political discourse into a construction based on repetitive issues is unquestionable linked to the character of both the 1989 moment and the transition that followed as conflicting intervals, dominated by dissensions and scission, unsolved matters, obsessions and idiosyncrasies, which determined a need for the continuous returning to the same issues. 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 if these settled the frame of interpretation for the following interval. The paper is tributary to critical and historical discourse analysis, regarding discourse as both text and context, language and action, discursive event and social situation (Van Dijk 2008; Chouliaraki & Fairclough 1999; Chilton 2004; Wodak 2001a; 2001b) and represents, an analysis of a topic that became, over the years, a thematic keystone in political discourse.

Universitaires « de l’Est » face au politique après 1989

Svetlana Dimitrova
Abstract: Les politisations des universitaires du début des années 1990 semblent aujourd’hui un chapitre clos dans l’histoire des pays de l’Europe de l’«Est . Les affiliations, les participations ou les engagements politiques ont été longtemps interprétés à la lumière d’expériences « endogènes » (les dissidences des décennies précédentes) et à travers des paradigmes « exogènes » (les intellectuels et la politique ; la démocratisation et la société civile). La question de la résistance, de la dissidence ou de l’opposition a fait couler beaucoup d’encre. Les analyses en sciences sociales se sont intéressés aux organisations informelles mais, aussi, aux activités et aux productions orales ou écrites en marge, alternatives, souterraines de la vie intellectuelle officielle (Samizdat, séminaires ou mouvements). Le rôle que ces différentes actions et orientations joueraient dans le changement politique du régime reste au centre des interprétations. L’importance du sens politique qui leur est associé semble poser un cadre interprétatif de référence. Quel est l’incidence de cet héritage ? Constitue-t-il un modèle du rapport au politique tout au long des trois dernières décennies ? Ce sont ces interrogations que le présent article se propose d’aborder. L’étude accorde une attention particulière aux processus, tout en discutant les questions épistémologues qui se posent. En s’appuyant sur des recherches menées en Bulgarie, l’analyse vise à apporter un éclairage sur les dynamiques qui traversent l’espace-temps « postsocialiste ». Critiqués comme des constructions idéologiques, les termes « Est » et « Ouest » ne peuvent être repris qu’entre guillemets. Afin de ne pas alourdir la lecture, nous ne répéterons pas ces guillemets ensuite.

Winds of Toponymic Change: Mapping Street Name Changes in Postsocialist Romania

Mihai Stelian Rusu
University of Sibiu
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 structure 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 powerful means of politicizing the urban landscape as well as their vulnerability especially in the aftermath of significant political changes.

Gendered Dynamics of the Humanitarian Commitment for Children in the post-socialist context. A case study: France (initiator)-Romania (beneficiary) (1989-2007)

Luciana M. Jinga
University of Angers, The Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes
and the Memory of the Romanian Exile
Abstract: In 1990 the empowering communist women movement, similar by its goals with the second-wave feminism, simply vanished under the pressure of democracy, leaving apparently nothing behind. While Judith Butler was publishing Gender Trouble, bringing western scholarship on gender and feminism to the new millennium, ex-communist and ex-soviet countries were sinking in pre-war, patriarchal believes. From a gender studies perspective, a new Iron Curtain seemed to rise between Western and Eastern Europe. The end of communism in Europe also gave the occasion for massive humanitarian actions within European borders for the first time after the end of WWII. Western humanitarian and human rights organisations managed to organise punctual interventions in the 1980’s, but the general attitude of communist regimes towards these missions remained one of deep suspicion. Most of the humanitarian actions after 1990 targeted children: abandoned children, children with disabilities, children with AIDS. In January 2007, when Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU, European authorities considered that all major issues concerning children precariousness had been improved and no special monitoring was needed. The main objective of this project is to examine the extent to which “gender”, as category of analysis, can be a useful tool in explaining the nature and the impact of humanitarian aid of western organizations towards children in Central and Eastern Europe, between 1989 and 2007, using as case study the relation France (initiator)-Romania (beneficiary). A first objective of this paper is a survey, from a gender perspective, of the different categories of children that beneficiated from humanitarian aid and the targeted problems (prevention of violence and protection, targeting and relief distribution, health and reproductive rights, nutrition and household food security, income generation and skill training, information and advocacy, HIV/AIDS). Furthermore, as boys and girls have different needs, I will analyse if and how the humanitarian campaigns took into consideration gender, as a leading aspect of their actions towards children. Did the framework of intervention formally addressed gender particularities? Were boys and girls treated differently? Was the aid, especially the medical aid, aimed for specific feminine issues such as forced marriages, teenage pregnancy or sexual abuse? A last aspect will concern the economic and social precariousness of teenage mothers, especially single mothers, and how it helped to keep in place the system of illegal adoptions.


One Day We Will Leave Without Fear: Everyday Lives Under the Soviet Police State By Mark Harrison, Hoover Institution Press Publication, Stanford, California, 2016, xxii+280 pp.

Iuliana Cindrea
University College Cork