Throughout the Cold War, most people in the US saw the communist party-states of the Soviet bloc as all-powerful regimes imposing their will on their populations. The author, a child of the Cold War, began her fieldwork in Romania in the 1970s in this belief. The present essay describes how her experiences in Romania between 1973 and 1989 gradually forced her to see things differently, bringing her to realize that centralization was only one face of a system of rule pervaded by barely controlled anarchy and parasitism on the state. It was not simply that the regime had failed to change people's consciousness; rather, the system's operation was actively producing something quite different. These insights contributed to the author's developing a new model of the workings of socialism.
Shifting provision, needs, and meanings of enterprise-centered pensioner care in eastern Germany
This article examines the ways in which different actors in eastern Germany incorporate socialist veteran care into the new economic and organizational framework of the trade union, the housing cooperative, and the reformed state enterprise itself. The complexities of the different meanings of this care are linked to the rapid socioeconomic changes in eastern Germany, which have challenged both expectations of the future as well as personal identities. The analysis describes the complex shifts in the source of provision and its regulation, which go beyond simple state/nonstate or formal/informal dichotomies. With unification social security practices have lost their previous material significance for former employees, but simultaneously have gained emotional value because they help to assure biographical continuity. These processes (re)create familiarity and community amid the profound economic restructuring after socialism.
The changing face of compassionate social security
Melissa L. Caldwell
Changing emigration and co-residence patterns in the post-Soviet period have left many elderly Russians living alone or without caretakers in close proximity. In addition, Russia's transition from state socialism to neoliberal capitalism has encouraged private welfare groups, often funded and staffed by foreigners, to assume increased responsibility for providing social security to elderly people. Consequently, notions of compassion are undergoing transformation in Russia, and the types of people who provide care are also changing dramatically as caregivers are more likely to be strangers, and especially foreigners, rather than family members. This article examines social security arrangements among Russia's elderly, with particular emphasis on the emergence of transnational caregiving relationships, and how these caregiving arrangements differ from global care networks reported elsewhere.
Francisca de Haan, Maria Bucur and Krassimira Daskalova
This is the third volume of Aspasia, with a focus on the gender history of everyday life. The questions in which we were interested included: How have broad institutional frameworks – religious, social, economic, political, and cultural – related to the ways in which average women and men negotiated their gender identities, and, vice versa, how have (changes in) gender identities and relations influenced broader institutional frameworks? Our call for papers also asked more specific questions: How have assumptions of religious institutions about gender norms shaped the everyday religious practices and spirituality of laywomen and men? How have sexual norms impacted how women and men perform and negotiate their sexual identity in their daily lives? What changes did state socialism bring to women’s and men’s gender identities and daily lives, and how did that change over time?
In the years after the fall of communist governments in Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe (CESEE), a flood of memoir literature began to fill bookstores around the region. Some of these books were newly written, others had been composed long ago but could not be published during the socialist period. Alongside this rush of published work, historians and anthropologists began numerous oral history projects devoted to recording ordinary people’s experiences of state socialism. This need to narrate one’s own past and capture the memories of those who witnessed the tragedies of the twentieth century continues to the present day. The turn to autobiography and personal narrative inspired the theme section in this issue of Aspasia: women’s autobiographical writing and correspondence.
An Email Conversation between Malgorzata (Gosia) Fidelis, Renata Jambrešić Kirin, Jill Massino, and Libora Oates-Indruchova
Malgorzata Fidelis, Renata Jambrešic´ Kirin, Jill Massino and Libora Oates-Indruchova
Although historians have established that gender was a crucial element of the Cold War competition between the United States of America and the Soviet Union, there is not much historical literature yet exploring that aspect of the Cold War. Even less literature specifically addresses the role of gender and/in the Cold War in Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe (CESEE), the region that Aspasia covers. Since Aspasia’s first issue (2007), each volume has had a Forum, though in different formats. This Forum, based on an email exchange conducted over several months between four regional experts, addresses questions about gender and/in the history and historiography of the Cold War in Czechoslovakia, Poland, Romania, and Yugoslavia. Of these countries, the first three were Soviet dominated, but Yugoslavia, after the Tito–Stalin split in 1948, developed its own branch of state socialism.
Where better to begin talking about Viennese identity in the late twentieth century than in the work of Elfriede Jelinek and Thomas Bernhard—specifically, in two plays whose titles immediately evoke the city as well as pregnant moments in its history: Jelinek's Burgtheater (published 1982; premiered 1985 in Bonn) and Bernhard's Heldenplatz (premiered 1988 in Vienna's Burgtheater). Insofar as the two plays dramatize the extent to which National Socialism took hold and persisted in Austria, they epitomize both authors' perennial roles as keen observers and harsh critics of Austrian society. Burgtheater and the scandal it generated established Jelinek's function as "Nestbeschmutzerin," whereas Heldenplatz, appearing the year before Bernhard's death, can be regarded as the capstone of his career as a critic of Austrian mores and politics.
Jytte Klausen, The Islamic Challenge. Politics and Religion in Western Europe (Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 2005).
Reviewed by Joyce Mushaben
David Art, The Politics of the Nazi Past in Germany and Austria (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006)
Reviewed by Antonis Ellinas
Michael Bernhard, Institutions and the Fate of Democracy: Germany and Poland in the 20th Century (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005))
Reviewed by John Bendix
Brian Rathbun, Partisan Interventions: European Party Politics and Peace Enforcement in the Balkans (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2004).
Reviewed by Charles King
Judd Stitziel, Fashioning Socialism: Clothing, Politics and Consumer Culture in East Germany (New York: Berg, 2005).
Reviewed by Catherine Plum
Cindy Skach, Borrowing Constitutional Designs: Constitutional Law in Weimar Germany and the French Fifth Republic, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005).
Reviewed by Michael Bernhard
Jennifer Ruth Hosek
The West Berlin anti-authoritarians around Rudi Dutschke employed a notion of subaltern nationalism inspired by independence struggles in the global South and particularly by post 1959 Cuba to legitimate their loosely understood plans to recreate West Berlin as a revolutionary island. Responding to Che Guevara's call for many Vietnams, they imagined this Northern metropolis as a Focus spreading socialism of the third way throughout Europe, a conception that united their local and global aims. In focusing on their interpretation of societal changes and structures in Cuba, the anti-authoritarians deemphasized these plans' potential for violence. As a study of West German leftists in transnational context, this article suggests the limitations of confining analyses of their projects within national or Northern paradigms. As a study of the influence of the global South on the North in a non-(post)colonial situation, it suggests that such influence is greater than has heretofore been understood.
Leah Rosen and Ruth Amir
This study is part of a wider research, which examines different strategies of exclusion and inclusion in public discourse and in the construction of collective memory in Israel. At the beginning of the 1930s, following the great economic crisis and the rise of National Socialism in Germany, a plan was conceived to send Jewish German youth to Palestine. Thus began the Project of Youth Aliyah, and with it the debate within the Zionist Movement and the Yishuv in Palestine on the proper station of immigrants in the emerging Israeli national identity. We characterize the discourse on the young refugees in the 1930s by highlighting two issues: first, the aims of the project for the emigration of Jewish German youth; and secondly, the national identity which should be inculcated in these young immigrants.