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181. 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.
182. 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.
183. 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.
184. 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.
185. 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?
186. 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.
187. Social Imaginaries: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
Paul Blokker, Saulius Geniusas, John Krummel, Jeremy C A Smith Editorial Introduction
188. Social Imaginaries: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
Kristupas Sabolius Traversing Life and Thought: Gilbert Simondon’s Theory of Cyclic Imagination
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Simondon’s poorly examined theory of imagination reveals a number of interesting possibilities. On the one hand, by grounding the function of images within the idea of a cycle, it provides an attempt of reconciliation between the assumptions that privilege either reproduction or creativity. On the other hand, his view might also be conceived as a serious alternative to various theoretical stances that characterize the problem of imagination strictly within a dichotomy between individual subject and social imaginaries. The paper proposes a reading of Simondon’s lectures given between 1965 and 1966 in Sorbonne in the broader context of his philosophy and outlines the role of imagination that exceeds imagining subject as well as establishing the mode of correlation with associated milieu, which performs the conditioning of its potentiality. Rejecting the primacy of representation, Simondon’s take enables one to draw the conclusion that imagination can be attributed to all living beings and conceived as the function of life.
189. Social Imaginaries: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
George Sarantoulias Mapping the theme of Creativity in Cornelius Castoriadis’s and Paul Ricoeur’s Social Imaginaries
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This paper elucidates the notion that action is creative through the social imaginaries perspective. Hans Joas’s critique of sociological theories on action developed in The Creativity of Action (1996 [1992]) argued that creativity is an essential concept to better understand social action. Cornelius Castoriadis and Paul Ricoeur employ an understanding of action as being inextricably connected to the social imaginary and capable of bringing forth historically novel forms of being and doing. An elucidation of Castoriadis’s dichotomy between the instituted and instituting imaginaries and Ricoeur’s distinction of the ideological and utopian poles of the cultural imagination bring to the surface points of convergence and divergence in their respective understandings of the social imaginary and historical novelty. Inspired by Joas’s critique of sociological theories of action through pragmatism, which is underlined by a critique of the philosophical anthropological assumptions held by structuralism, this essay argues that Castoriadis’s and Ricoeur’s distinct insights on the creative dimension of social action and the way in which social reality emerges can elucidate further an anti-structuralist philosophical anthropology that can help inform sociological theories of action.
190. Social Imaginaries: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
David Chai Daoism and the Meontological Imagination
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Of the things needing to be forgotten if we are to partake in the oneness of Dao, language is perhaps the hardest. Since the purpose of words is to delimit things, words create an artificial division between things and their image qua form. While humanity views images as distinct entities, Dao leaves them in their jumbled collectivity; while humanity feels compelled to act upon our thoughts and feelings, Dao remains silent and empty. This leads to the following question: Will modelling ourselves after Dao result in a more creative form of thinking and if so, can it be carried-out without words and images? To demonstrate why the answer to this question is yes, we will first analyze why words are an obstacle to deeper thinking before looking at how images, despite their ability to connect with Dao, are nevertheless hindered by their dependency on being. It thus falls to spirit to lay bare the constant non-image of Dao, the core of the Daoist imagination and focus of the final section of this paper.
191. Social Imaginaries: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
Farhad Khosrokhavar Western Imaginary of Jihadism
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Western jihadism is a complex phenomenon in which the imaginary dimension, the subjectivity of the actors linked to their socio-economic condition but also to their ethnicity, and beyond that, what I call their subjectivation (the ability to empower oneself as a social actor), play a significant role. In Europe, among the Muslim offshoots of migrant workers, most of the psychological developments associated with Jihadism occurs in very specific urban structures, the poor districts or suburbs, where a high concentration of urban poor live with a burden of social stigma linked to the high criminality rate. These settings are often de facto ghettoes. The development of a specific urban imagination often gives meaning to the jihadist commitment among young people living in this type of settlement. This imaginary often feeds on a feeling of stigmatization among these people. Jihadism is not a quest for meaning, but its discovery, the wielding of it through embracing death and inflicting it on the ‘infidels’. It is, in another way, a punishment of society, an act of vengeance against it, be it due to personal reasons (mainly for the young downtrodden of the immigrant origin who feel stigmatized by the society) or due to the lack of ideal, utopia and social justice in society (the case of the young middle class people). This study aims at underlining the fact that social imaginaries should be at the root of socio-anthropological analysis and without understanding the meaning of social action, quantitative views give us at best a unilateral, at most a distorted view of social action and social behavior.
192. Social Imaginaries: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
Yulia Prozorova Religio-Political Nexus and Political Imaginary in Russia
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The essay contributes to the discussion of the religio-political nexus by examining the interplay between the religious and the political and the dynamics of political imaginary evoked by the Christianization and reception of Christian political theology in Russia. After a cursory overview of theoretical foundations underpinning the religio-political problematic, the essay introduces political theology as a constitutive element of the religio-political nexus and its most emphatic forms of theocracy and sacral rulership. Political theology sheds light on the gravitation between the religious and the political and the meta-institutional potential of the religio-political nexus. The essay focuses on the creative appropriation of religious themes by political imaginary contributing to the institution of autocracy in Russia. Christian monotheism and religious worldviews along with Byzantine political theology introduced theocratic vision and comprised the conceptual-symbolic framework within which autocratic configuration of power was articulated and legitimized. The increasing dependence of the church on the secular authority and reinterpreta­tion of the doctrine of symphonia resulted into the caesaropapism associated with absolute autocracy. ‘Monistic unity’, unification of all powers subjugated and embodied by a sacralised autocratic ruler evolved in Russia as a paradigmatic pattern with long-lasting effects.
193. Social Imaginaries: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
Johann P. Arnason Theorizing the Present: Notes on Diagnoses of our Times
194. 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.
195. 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.
196. 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.
197. 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.
198. 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.
199. 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.
200. 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.