Twenty years after the end of communist rule in Czechoslovakia, numerous public and private acts of remembrance both hail the end of state socialism and rally Czech society to be on guard against its possible return. This article compares three sets of remembrances-official commemorations sponsored by the state and/or private corporations, activists' alternative memory acts, and personal accounts of Czech citizens-to reveal how each of these give voice to fears and anxieties over the possibilities of “forgetting“ communism. Promoting a vision of the nation as united in ensuring that the future remains “communist-free“, widespread concerns over social amnesia and civic apathy become, I argue, a means of bonding citizens together and to the state. What, however, exactly characterizes a “noncommunist“ society is left necessarily ambiguous.
Perspectives from postsocialist Europe and beyond
Haldis Haukanes and Susanna Trnka
The last two decades have witnessed a phenomenal expansion of scholarly work on collective memory. Simultaneously, increasing anthropological attention is being paid to collective visions of the future, albeit through a range of disparate literatures on topics including development, modernity and risk, the imagination, and, perhaps ironically, nostalgia. In this introduction to this special section, we bring together analyses of postsocialist visions of pasts and futures to shed light upon the cultural scripts and social processes through which different temporal visions are ascribed collective meaning, employed in the creation of shared and personal identities, and used to galvanize social and political action.
How perspectives from the margins can illuminate the exploits of twenty-first-century global capitalism
Cris Shore and Susanna Trnka
In the context of rapid neoliberal reform, both anthropology as a discipline and the social and cultural phenomena it studies are undergoing profound changes. In this article we develop June Nash's concept of “peripheral vision” to show how peripheries, and the politics of “peripheralization”, can illuminate processes of neoliberalization and the implications that this has for anthropological knowledge production. We argue that anthropology is uniquely situated to examine the conceptual blind spots produced by capitalism. By recasting “peripheral vision” as an analytic concept and methodological tool, we show how cultivating our ethnographic sensibilities to identify and hone in on events and processes that lie beyond our immediate field of vision can provide a useful antidote to the seductive fantasies of contemporary capitalism. In doing so, we also suggest how this approach can help counter some of the increasing strictures on knowledge production and narrowing of the research imagination that neoliberal reforms impose.