While the fall of the Berlin Wall is positively commemorated in the West, the intervening years have shown that the former Soviet Bloc has a more complicated view of its legacy. In post-communist Eastern Europe, the way people remember state socialism is closely intertwined with the manner in which they envision historical justice. Twenty Years After Communism is concerned with the explosion of a politics of memory triggered by the fall of state socialism in
Eastern Europe, and it takes a comparative look at the ways that communism and its demise have been commemorated (or not commemorated) by major political actors across the region.
The book is built on three premises. The first is that political actors always strive to come to terms with the history of their communities in order to generate a sense of order in their personal and collective lives. Second, new leaders sometimes find it advantageous to mete out justice on the politicians of abolished regimes, and whether and how they do so depends heavily on their interpretation and assessment of the collective past. Finally, remembering the past, particularly collectively,
is always a political process, thus the politics of memory and commemoration needs to be studied as an integral part of the establishment of new collective identities and new principles of political legitimacy. Each chapter takes a detailed look at the commemorative ceremony of a different country of
the former Soviet Bloc. Collectively the book looks at patterns of extrication from state socialism, patterns of ethnic and class conflict, the strategies of communist successor parties, and the cultural traditions of a given country that influence the way official collective memory is constructed.
Twenty Years After Communism develops a new analytical and explanatory framework that helps readers to understand the utility of historical memory as an important and understudied part of democratization.
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Number of pages: 384
Weight: 706 g
Dimensions: 238 x 162 x 28 mm
Remembering a nation's past shapes its future. We should know this in our bones, but thanks to Bernhard, Kubik, and their contributors, we have both theory and method to approach it analytically across the world, and inspired empirical studies of the post-communist world. One of the best volumes I have read in years. It is required reading for those who want to understand how cultural politics matter. * Michael D. Kennedy, Professor of Sociology and International Studies, Brown University *
In contrast to most studies of collective memory, which usually focus on one or a small handful of cases, Twenty Years After Communism systematically compares 17 cases of Eastern European memory of 1989. In order to do so, it develops a rigorous theoretical framework for studying 'official memory' in postcommunist countries. Both its conceptual introduction and the individual chapters mark a significant advance in social scientific memory studies and in
understanding of this crucial region. It is sure to be a landmark volume. * Jeffrey K. Olick, Professor of Sociology and History, University of Virginia *
Memory studies' has become a crowded area of scholarship, with much rather sentimental work and too many books mechanically reproducing existing approaches. This volume is different: it offers an original theory of 'memory regimes' and uses it to compare the commemorations of 1989 across Central and Eastern Europe. The resulting chapters are a treasure trove of insights into the political cultures of post-communist countries. * Jan-Werner Muller, Professor of Politics, Princeton University *
provides in-depth expertise on the politics of memory and commemoration in 17 countries * Ferenc Laczo, Europe-Asia Studies *