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Velvet Retro: Postsocialist Nostalgia and the Politics of Heroism in Czech Popular Culture

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Volume 2

Worlds of Memory

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Velvet Retro

Postsocialist Nostalgia and the Politics of Heroism in Czech Popular Culture

Veronika Pehe

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282 pages, 8 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78920-628-9 25% OFF! $120.00/£85.00 $90.00/£63.75 Hb Not Yet Published (February 2020)

eISBN 978-1-78920-629-6 eBook Not Yet Published

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Velvet Retro draws surprising and illuminating connections between various aspects of postsocialist culture and politics. It innovatively combines the history of popular culture, film and literary studies, memory studies, and comparative nationalism to establish a novel connection between retro aesthetics and postsocialist political culture.” • Pavel Kolář, University of Konstanz

“A wide-ranging record of the cultural causes célèbres in the Czech Republic since the fall of Communism, this book studies what they show about how Czech artistic and media elites and the general public have chosen to commemorate the Communist period. It usefully resonates with the perceived disconnect—currently widespread internationally—between a metropolitan elite and the masses.” • Rajendra Chitnis, University College, Oxford


Scholars of state socialism have frequently invoked “nostalgia” to identify an uncritical longing for the utopian ambitions and lived experience of the former Eastern Bloc. However, this concept seems insufficient to describe memory cultures in the Czech Republic and other contexts in which a “retro” fascination with the past has proven compatible with a steadfast critique of the state socialist era. This innovative study locates a distinctively retro aesthetic in Czech literature, film, and other cultural forms, enriching our understanding of not only the nation’s memory culture, but also the ways in which popular culture can structure collective memory.

Veronika Pehe is a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellow at the Institute of Contemporary History of the Czech Academy of Sciences.

Subject: General Cultural Studies Postwar History Film Studies
Area: Central/Eastern Europe


List of Abbreviations

Introduction: Returning to the Past

Chapter 1. Painting the Past Black and White: Czech Anticommunism after 1989
Chapter 2. The Past as Comedy: Representing Socialism in the 1990s
Chapter 3. The Late 1990s: Contesting the Past through Popular Culture
Chapter 4. Petty Heroism: Nostalgia for Resistance
Chapter 5. The Politics and Aesthetics of Retro
Chapter 6. Changing Memory Landscapes in the 2000s

Conclusion: Socialism Remembered


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