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argument
1. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 10
Mihai Stelian Rusu, Corneliu Pintilescu, Dalia Báthory “Mister Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Socio‑economic and Political Consequences 30 Years After
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The fall of the Berlin Wall stood for a symbol of change and freedom across the socialist bloc and inspired the inhabitants in Eastern Europe to take action and revolt against dictatorial regimes. A long and often painful process of social, economic and political transformation began. Scholars grouped their research dealing with such transformations under the label of “Transitology” and the developing subfields of “transitional justice” and “memory studies” expanded and caught the academic interest. The present argument looks at the emergence and evolvement of these fields in parallel with a growing and changing society.
i. quicksands – postsocialist institutional changes
2. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 10
Svetlana Dimitrova Universitaires « de l’Est » face au politique après 1989
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The politicization of the intellectuals in the early 1990s now seems 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.
3. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 10
Mihai Stelian Rusu Winds of Toponymic Change: Mapping Street Name Changes in Postsocialist Romania
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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.
4. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 10
Luciana Jinga Gendered Dynamics of the Humanitarian Commitment for Children in the Postsocialist Context. A Case Study: France (initiator)‑ Romania (beneficiary) (1989‑2007)
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The paper explores 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 Europe, between 1980 and 2007, using as 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 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.
5. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 10
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 –
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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.
ii. postsocialist cultural shifts
6. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 10
Lotte Thaa The Revolution Will Not Be Musealised. Remnants of the GDR’s ‘Peaceful Revolution’ in the Museum
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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.
7. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 10
Gabija Purlyte Representations of the Soviet Period and Its Traces in the Works of Contemporary Artists from the Baltic States
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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.
8. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 10
Davjola Ndoja German National Socialist Black Metal: Contemporary Neo‑Nazism and the Ongoing Struggle with Antisemitism
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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.
9. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 10
Dalia Báthory Pop Memory. Clickbait and the Lives of the former Romanian Dictators Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu, 30 Years After
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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.
iii. book review
10. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 10
Iuliana Cindrea-Nagy Mark Harrison, One Day We Will Live Without Fear: Everyday Lives Under the Soviet Police State
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11. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 10
Notes on the contributors
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argument
12. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 9
Dalia Báthory History of Science During the Cold War Under the Microscope
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The general post-communist perspective of historiography on the Cold War era is that the world was divided into two blocs, so different and isolated from one another that there was no interaction between them whatsoever. As revisionist literature is expanding, the uncovered data indicates a far more complex reality, with a dynamic East-West exchange of goods, money, information, human resources, and technology, be it formal or informal, official or underground, institutional or personal. The current volume History of Communism in Europe: Breaking the Wall: National and Transnational Perspectives on East-European Science tries to confer more detail to this perspec­tive, by bringing together research papers that focus on the history of science during the Cold War. The articles cover a wide range of subjects, from biology to philosophy and from espionage to medical practices, all sharing an ideological context that continuously impacted and molded the professional relations among scholars from both sides of the Iron Curtain.
i. science before, after and beyond the iron curtain
13. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 9
William deJong Lambert “The Difference Between No. 1 1928 and No. 1 1930 Is Great Indeed.”: Theodosius Dobzhansky’s Self-Imposed Exile From Soviet Russia - the “Dr. Zhivago Period”
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This article chronicles the correspondence between Theodosius Dobzhansky (1900-1975) and his colleagues in the USSR in the years following his arrival in the United States on what was to have been a one-year fellowship working in the laboratory of T.H. Morgan at Columbia University. These letters chronicle a period during which Dobzhansky not only realized the enormous potential of Drosophila genetics for unlocking the secrets of evolution, but also that con­tinuing this research would require finding a way to remain in the United States longer than either the Soviet Academy of Sciences, or the Rockefeller Foundation, would allow. Dobzhansky’s exchanges during this period with mentors such as Yuri Filipchenko and Nikolai Vavilov, as well as fellow students and colleagues such as Nikolai Medvedev, highlight the precarious game Dobzhansky played as he attempted to appear eager to return to his homeland, while secretly maneuvering to delay it. By the time it was over Filipchenko would die an early death of meningitis and Vavilov—who had originally been urging Dobzhansky to return and contribute to development of genetics in Russia—would now advise him to remain in the USA. Dobzhansky was nearly forced to return to the USSR after a routine trip to Canada to renew his visa, an outcome that would surely have resulted in imprisonment or worse. In the end he was allowed to stay, however Dobzhansky’s defection was so resented by the Soviet regime that even decades later he would remain an “un-person” in his homeland, whose name and contributions were never officially acknowledged during his lifetime, and his attempts at reconciliation were rejected.
14. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 9
Jean-Claude Dupont L’histoire médicale et politique du pavlovisme en Russie et en France: Fernand Lamaze et le cas de l’accouchement sans douleur
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La méthode psychoprophylactique d’accouchement sans douleur (MPP) se développe en URSS dans un contexte stalinien sur les principes de la médecine pavlovienne, définie officiellement lors de la « session pavlovienne » de 1950. En France, c’est la figure de Fernand Lamaze qui est associée à la promotion de l’accouchement sans douleur, après qu’il ait importé la MPP d’Union soviétique l’année suivante. D’abord soutenue par les organisations marxistes et le mouvement d’émancipation des femmes, elle sera ensuite contestée sous l’effet des transformations dans la gestion médicale de l’accouchement et des rivalités politiques de la guerre froide. L’article interroge les origines historiques, épistémologiques et politiques de la médecine pavlovienne. Il compare la réception du pavlovisme à l’Ouest et à l’Est en suivant le fil de l’histoire de l’accouchement sans douleur et les enjeux en France et en URSS d’une controverse dans laquelle médecine et politique s’entremêlent.
15. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 9
Mirosław Sikora From Promising Agent to Suspicious Francophile: Professor Stefan Węgrzyn and His Contacts with Professor Jean Charles Gille Through the Lens of the Polish (counter) Intelligence (1958-1976)
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This paper examines how the Polish communist intelligence service attempted to recruit professor Stefan Węgrzyn, who was a prominent specialist on automatic control and computer science in post-war Poland. Eventually, Węgrzyn’s refusal to cooperate with the Polish spy agency, together with his profound relationship with French scientist and servomechanism expert Jean Charles Gille, made them both targets of surveillance orchestrated by the communist security apparatus.In the broader context of human-intelligence studies, this case study involves the problem of moral ambiguity. We experience informative examples of scientists, who often – not only during the Cold War – have had to choose between commitment to the rules of the academic world, along with its openness and transparency on the one hand, and patriotism including an ethos of secrecy for the sake of the homeland’s prosperity, on the other hand.
16. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 9
Luciana Jinga Science and Politics During the Cold War – The Controversial Case of Sexology in Communist Romania
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The paper investigates how formal/informal networks of scientists, while facilitating the scientific West-East transfer in the Cold War context, shaped the scientific field of sexology by imposing personal scientific credos, in a particular national context. The paper shows that in the Cold War context, sexual science was present in Communist Romania, but neither as imitation of the regional scholarship, nor as a simple reproduction of western advancements in the field. The post-war Romanian scholarship in the field of sexology was the result of scientific interests of Stefan Milcu – long time party protégée and respected member of the international scientific community – and of its personal circle that included remarkable personalities such as Victor Săhleanu or Tudor Stoica. Presenting the public with information about sexual and re­productive functions, and sometimes even elaborated descriptions of sexual techniques, certainly was never meant to enhance the individual gratification or provoke any form of sexual revolution. The Romanian production of sex/educational manuals and of sexology works was part of a state policy towards a better, stable, family life, aiming for collective and social happiness.
ii. science as a tool of soft power
17. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 9
Corina Doboș Swinging Statistics: Population Research and Political Construction in 20th Century Romania
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The present article proposes an examination of the disciplinary evolution of demographic research in Communist Romania, as a case study of the mutually constitutive, multifaceted relationship between science, politics, ideology and memory. My research tries to compensate for the lack of access to the archives of the central institutions for population research during Communism (the National Institute of Statistics and the National Commission of Demography), by combining published sources (mainly scientific works, but also histories of demography and personal memoirs), with different archival documents, mainly coming from personal funds of two population researchers (Sabin Manuilă and Ștefan Milcu), from the fund of the Central Commission for Planning, of the Chancellery of the Romanian Communist Party and from diplomatic archives. I pay attention to the side of the story offered by the actors themselves, focusing on the way in which the legacy of interwar demography was assumed and invoked in different post-war accounts regarding the history of demographic discipline in Romania. By doing so, I seek to contribute to writing a history of science as a product of complex entanglements between the different factors that circumscribe the process of knowledge production within a larger social and political context: specific professional interests and institutional settings, subjective interpretations, ideological pressures and attempts of political control.
18. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 9
Irina Nastasă-Matei Academic Migration and Cultural Diplomacy During the Cold War: Humboldt Fellowships for Romania in the Context of Eastern Europe
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Romania was the first country in the Eastern bloc to initiate diplo­matic relations with the Federal Republic of Germany. On January 31, 1967, the Embassy of the FRG was opened in Bucharest, Romania. In this context, which marked the intensification of the cultural exchange between the two countries, with special attention paid to the exchange of students and researchers, in this article I aim to tackle the situation of the Humboldt fellows from Romania during 1965-1989, as agents of knowledge transfer and actors of soft-power strategies between the two blocks.
iii. phylosophy from metaphysics to materialism
19. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 9
Cristian Vasile The Institute of Philosophy in Communist Romania Under the Regime of Gheorghiu-Dej, 1949-65
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This paper examines some aspects of the institutional history of post-war Romanian philosophy, with a special focus on the Institute of Philosophy of the Academy of People’s Republic of Romania. The aim of this article is to shed more light on the main aspects of philosophical research during cultural Stalinism, and to underline the inflexion points within Romanian “philosophical” writings between 1948 and 1965. I examined the lack of human resources and its impact on the emergence of Marxist-Leninist philosophy, as well as the main research topics studied at the Philosophy Section of the Institute of History and Philosophy and Institute of Philosophy especially in the 1950s. I focused also on the context of unmasking and purging of the “philosophical” front mainly in late 1950s, underlining the Agitprop fight against Revisionism and “bourgeois” influence in social sciences. The avatars of the philosophical field are analysed through the lens of professor’s Constantin Ionescu Gulian’s destiny as an important manager of the institutions producing philosophy during the aforementioned period.
20. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 9
Daniela Maci The Status of Philosophy During the Communist Regime in Romania
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The text approaches the status of Romanian philosophy during the communist period from two points of view: a) that of speech: while a new philosophical vocabulary becomes official, the old one fades away; b) that of the communist educational system. My analysis will consider the first period (1950-1960) in which “the new philosophy” (Dialectical Materialism, DIAMAT) was disseminated in society, and the second period (1970-1980) in which Marxism could not be reduced to DIAMAT. Are these periods subsumed to the universal ideology (DIAMAT) or not?