This article is an attempt to shed more light on the topic of state socialist feminism in Eastern Europe by focusing on part of the biography of one of the most visible women’s activists and political functionaries in Bulgaria and Eastern Europe after 1944, Tsola Dragoicheva. It should be considered as a contribution to the ongoing debate regarding the character of state socialist measures toward women and the “gender contract” in the countries of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe between 1944 and 1989. It does not pretend, however, to cover and evaluate Dragoicheva’s entire life (or to agree with everything she did) or to create an exhaustive picture of state socialist measures toward women in Bulgaria (nor does it underestimate the significance of structured gender inequalities, which often remain unnoticed); rather, it discusses some facts and procedures dealing with “women’s issues” that researchers have only vaguely covered so far. The study is based on various archival materials from Bulgarian and international archives, and on the periodical press from the period under consideration, oral history interviews, and scholarly publications relevant to this topic. It is part of an ongoing project on Gendering Balkan Nation-States.
From Biography to History
Cultures of Governance and the Representation of Power in Tanzania
This article explores some cultural dimensions of governance in Tanzania in the context of transnational efforts to establish a vibrant civil society as part of the democratization agenda. Far from providing alternative modalities of political organization intermediate between the family and the state, the newly established community organizations formed in response to donor initiatives actually replicate social relations and practices associated with government. Governance as a cultural practice in Tanzania enacts the hierarchical relations between lower and higher tiers in models premised on the conceptualization of the village as both object and lowest level of government. Parallels between civil society models of governance and those associated with local governance are explained by identical vertical relations between donors and rural residents, and by shared expectations about the performance of power.
Continuation or Reinvention?
This article gives due and extended attention to the performance in 1943 of The Merchant of Venice in Vienna, examining the ways in which Shylock was portrayed and potentially misused for propagandistic purposes by the regime. The approach will be both primarily analytical and comparative. Archival material sourced from the theatre museum in Vienna (Theatermuseum) and the Burgtheater will form the base of this research. The question ‘How was Shylock performed under the Nazis?’ will be accompanied by ‘To what extent was the play modified?’ and ‘How does the infamous Vienna production differ from previous, celebrated productions?’ Considering that Merchant is a play which, up until today, often upsets audiences, analysing a Nazi performance might seem too crude an endeavour. This article, however, aims to demonstrate that no matter how painful or uncomfortable a topic may be, ‘Erinnern macht frei’ – remembrance can set you free (Marko Watt).
In October 1978, diverse members of the West Berlin Left founded the Alternative Liste für Demokratie und Umweltschutz (Alternative Ballot for Democracy and Environmental Protection, AL). This article examines the origins and evolution of the AL. Initially, the new political organization fundamentally opposed the parliamentary system. Within three years, however, the AL won a significant presence in the West Berlin Parliament, and in 1989, the party joined the Social Democrats in governing West Berlin. The AL’s parliamentary participation had a moderating, integrative effect on the party and its members. From the late 1970s through the end of the 1980s, a significant segment of the radical West German Left grew to accept parliamentary democracy, demonstrating the strength of the Federal Republic.
British-German relations have undergone a considerable transformation since 1945 with both countries having to adapt to significant changes in their own status, as well as a very different international environment. Germany's status as a morally and militarily defeated and occupied power in 1945 is in stark contrast to the confident role it is playing at the beginning of the new millennium when—sixty years after the end of World War II—the German chancellor for the first time took part in the VE-Day celebrations of the victors. This article analyzes recent dynamics of collective memory in both countries and examine if and to what extent their collective memories play a role in British-German relations.
At a time when European cities redefine themselves through 'culture' in an attempt to attract tourists, investors and potential residents, policymakers have to negotiate different notions of 'local culture' defined by state governments on the one hand and by the EU on the other. Drawing upon research conducted in the Polish city of Gdańsk in the context of the redevelopment of its urban landscape, the article illustrates how 'local culture' is redefined as 'culture of freedom' by municipal and state institutions in order to establish a relationship of historical continuity between the time when Gdańsk was a thriving multicultural city and the post-socialist present. The article puts forward the argument that while the reformulation of local culture as 'culture of freedom' involves reconciling notions of national identity with new norms of local, regional and European integration, it does not necessarily entail the supersession of nationalism.
The Theatre of Memory in Post-Soviet Russia, Estonia and Georgia
This article discusses different processes of appropriation of history in three former Soviet Republics. It provides a context for the recent historical retrofitting by taking the re-monumentalisation of the past in Estonia, the popularity of pseudo-history in Russia, and the current state of the Stalin museum in Georgia as symptomatic of wider social processes. New forms of convergence are shown between the historical and the political by the replacement, emptying of meaning, and remixability of past symbols. The author concludes that the Soviet world has been put to political and communicative uses as a familiar context to refer to; also that the process of retrofitting historical narratives is not over yet in any of these societies.
A 1945 Primer from Socialist Macedonia
This article examines the textual and visual content of the first postwar primer in socialist Yugoslav Macedonia in order to understand the messages that it contains relating to techniques of militarization. After outlining the historical context in which this primer was developed, with reference to teachers’ memories and archival sources, the article analyzes the role of teaching materials in connection with the experience of the Second World War and the politics of the new communist state. This content analysis identifies six militaristic messages and values communicated to the pupils, who are addressed as future soldiers.
Visual and Verbal Strategies of Representing the Past in Post-Waldheim Austria
This article focuses on the impact of images on reconstructions of the past. In order to analyze the function of images in history textbooks, image-discourse analysis is applied to a case study of Austrian postwar memory. The analysis of recent Austrian history textbooks provides insight into strategies by which notions of Austria as both "victim" and "perpetrator" of the National Socialist regime are held in balance. The article also focuses on the intentional framing of iconic depictions of two central Austrian sites of memory, Heroes' Square (Heldenplatz) and the State Treaty (Staatsvertrag).
This article describes why the Polish government has pushed for an invocation to Christian traditions in the European Union Constitution. It is argued that this is a rather 'unfortunate' outcome of the political alliance between the Catholic Church and the Polish left, especially between President Aleksander Kwaśniewski and the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD). This alliance allowed the SLD to legitimize their rule in the post-socialist Poland, and it was a result of a political competition between them and the post-Solidarność elites. As a result, John Paul II became the central integrative metaphor for the Polish society at large, which brought back in the marginalized as well as allowed the transition establishment to win the EU accession referendum in 2003. The article (which was written when Leszek Miller was still Prime Minister) demonstrates how this alliance crystallized and presents various elements of the cult of the Pope in Poland that followed. Finally, it argues that the worship of the Pope is not an example of nationalism, but of populism, understood not as a peripheral but as a central political force, and advocates for more research on the 'politics of emotions' at work in the centers and not in peripheries.