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This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Dealing with the Past - Encountering Romania Part 9

The countries on which the Iron Curtain fell have had a difficult time since 1989 dealing with the record of repression, imprisonment, flight and death inflicted on millions of their citizens during that almost 50 year period. A few countries passed laws banning those holding power at that time from any future positions of authority but most countries, including Romania, had a reluctant and confused response to such questions of responsibility and justice.  25 years on from the end of the Ceaucescu regime, for example, there are still almost 100 serving Romanian MPs who held senior positions in that regime – and it was only in 2006 that the various archives were made (more or less) fully accessible to allow the researchers of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Communist Dictatorship in Romania to do their work. 
Coming to terms with the communist past in Romania is a 2011 article which analyses the highly politicised way the Commission report was treated by politicians and the media. 
Romanian communism between commemoration, nostalgia and scientific debate (2011) widens the analysis.
Transitional Justice in post-communist Romania (2012) is a recent book which assesses how such issues as property restitution and the rewriting of history books have been handled.

In Western European countries we turn to social history for insights into the recent past (particularly the last 50 years or so). I did a blogpost not so long ago about the extensive work which is available on post-war Britain
But in central and eastern European countries history of any sort is a highly contested field; and it is to anthropology and ethnography that we need to turn to get a deeply textured feel for the past as lived by the mass of people.
Katherine Verdery is an American Professor who has written extensively about Romanian cultural patterns from the research she was allowed to do here from the 1970s. 
Another recent book which deals with a key but strangely neglected subject is Heroes and Victims – remembering war in 20th century Romania by Maria Bucur (2010)

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