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Post-communist Nostalgia

Edited by Maria Todorova and Zsuzsa Gille

310 pages, 5 ills, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-84545-671-9 $120.00/£85.00 Hb Published (June 2010)

ISBN  978-0-85745-643-4 $34.95/£24.00 Pb Published (April 2012)

eISBN 978-1-84545-834-8 eBook


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This book serves an invaluable function by capturing the rich complexity of nostalgia and marking a moment when questions of postmodern historiography can be applied to a past, the recent Communist one, for which the pressures toward absolute evaluations are immense. [It] summarizes some of the scholarship that one might include with the "contemporary history" of the region…This volume should have broad general appeal across a market for post-Communist cultural studies and the study of memory.”  ·  H-Habsburg

Overall, this an impressive set of essays that makes a weighty contribution to the study of nostalgia in the European East after socialism. It adds significantly to the burgeoning literature on the infinitely complex and fascinating subject of social remembrance… Scholars and students interested in how memory works (and fails) will find much to appreciate in Post-Communist Nostalgia.  ·  Anthropology of East Europe Review

The volume is refreshingly iconoclastic… its overall character is kaleidoscopic but all the more fascinating and insightful.  ·  Südosteuropa

This volume nicely illustrates that nostalgia talk is symptomatic of ongoing struggles over the truthsof postsocialist history[It]makes an important ethnographic and theoretical contribution to memory, history, and identity studies in the region and beyond. By exploring the complex and often unpredictable social life of socialism in the realm of memory (Berdahl), it illustrates that sometimes, as Todorova claims, it can be very hard to predict what our pasts are going to be.”  ·  Slavic Review

“These lively essays make for the rare collection that is greater than the sum of its parts. Bookended by a substantive Foreword and Afterword, they upend the standard ‘diagnosis of nostalgia’ found across the former Soviet bloc, refuting the popular conception that Eastern Europeans are somehow haunted by the past, and illustrating the repertoire of contemporary post-socialist cultural politics at its most sophisticated"  ·  Bruce Grant, New York University

Although the end of the Cold War was greeted with great enthusiasm by people in the East and the West, the ensuing social and especially economic changes did not always result in the hoped-for improvements in people’s lives. This led to widespread disillusionment that can be observed today all across Eastern Europe. Not simply a longing for security, stability, and prosperity, this nostalgia is also a sense of loss regarding a specific form of sociability. Even some of those who opposed communism express a desire to invest their new lives with renewed meaning and dignity. Among the younger generation, it surfaces as a tentative yet growing curiosity about the recent past. In this volume scholars from multiple disciplines explore the various fascinating aspects of this nostalgic turn by analyzing the impact of generational clusters, the rural-urban divide, gender differences, and political orientation. They argue persuasively that this nostalgia should not be seen as a wish to restore the past, as it has otherwise been understood, but instead it should be recognized as part of a more complex healing process and an attempt to come to terms both with the communist era as well as the new inequalities of the post-communist era.

Maria Todorova is Professor of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her publications include Bones of Contention: The Living Archive of Vasil Levski and the Making of Bulgaria’s National Hero (2006), Balkan Identities: Nation and Memory (2004), Imagining the Balkans (1997), Balkan Family Structure and the European Pattern: Demographic Developments in Ottoman Bulgaria (1993).

Zsuzsa Gille is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is the author of From the Cult of Waste to the Trash Heap of History: The Politics of Waste in Socialist and Post-Socialist Hungary (2007), and co-author of Global Ethnography: Forces, Connections and Imaginations in a Postmodern World (2000).

Subject: Postwar History
Area: Central/Eastern Europe

LC: JN96.A58P663 2010

BL: YC.2010.a.12154

BISAC: HIS010010 HISTORY/Europe/Eastern; POL005000 POLITICAL SCIENCE/Political Ideologies/Communism & Socialism; HIS037030 HISTORY/Modern/General

BIC: HBJD European history; HBLW 20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000




Contents

List of Figures

Introduction: From Utopia to Propaganda and Back
Maria Todorova

Part I: Rupture and the Economies of Nostalgia

Chapter 1. From Algos to Autonomos: Nostalgic Eastern Europe as Postimperial Mania
Dominic Boyer

Chapter 2. Strange Bedfellows: Socialist Nostalgia and Neo-Liberalism in Bulgaria
Gerald W. Creed

Chapter 3. Today's Unseen Enthusiasm: Communist Nostalgia for Communism in the Socialist Humanist Brigadier Movement
Cristofer Scarboro

Chapter 4. Nostalgia for the JNA? Remembering the Army in the Former Yugoslavia
Tanja Petrović

Chapter 5. Dignity in Transition: History, Teachers and the Nation-State in post-1989 Bulgaria
Tim Pilbrow

Chapter 6. Invisible-Inaudible: Albanian Memories of Socialism after the War in Kosovo
Stephanie Schwandner-Sievers

Chapter 7. “Let's all freeze up until 2100 or so”: Nostalgic Directions in Post-communist Romania
Oana Popescu-Sandu

Part II: Nostalgic Realms in Word, Sound and Screen

Chapter 8. Sonic Nostalgia: Music, Memory, and Mythography in Bulgaria, 1990-2005
Donna Buchanan

Chapter 9. "Ceausescu Hasn’t Died": Irony as Counter-Memory in Post-Socialist Romania
Diana Georgescu

Chapter 10.  Goodbye Lenin, Aufwiedersehen GDR: On the Social Life of Socialism
Daphne Berdahl

Chapter 11.  “But it’s ours”: Nostalgia and the politics of authenticity in postsocialist Hungary
Maya Nadkarni

Chapter 12. Looking Back to the Bright Future: Aleksander Melikhov's Red Zion
Harriet Murav

Chapter 13. Dwelling on the Ruins of Socialist Yugoslavia: Being Bosnian by Remembering Tito
Fedja Buric

Chapter 14. The Velvet Prison in Hindsight: Artistic Discourse in Hungary in the 1990s
Anna Szemere

Chapter 15. Vacant History, Empty Screens: Postcommunist German Films of the 1990s
Anke Pinkert

Postscript
Zsuzsa Gille

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