The modern concept communism emerged in the French public sphere in 1840 and rapidly gained currency in other European countries as well. Though primarily used as a term of derision, its radicalization of already-established senses of accelerating change and worldly futurity secured its incorporation in complex unities of utopian hopes and dystopian fears all over the political spectrum of the time. The Danish public sphere of the 1840s reveals three basic modes of using communism, each linked in its peculiar way to new uses of the concept democracy: conservative equations of democratic political equality (particularly, universal male suffrage) and communist attacks on private property in favor of a community of goods; leftist democratic denials of such equations and the emergence of anticommunist democratic positions; and, between the two extremes, liberal distinctions between their own moderate conception of democracy and the false, “communist” democracy of the left .
Gender and Public Memory in the Sighet Museum, Romania
The Memorial Museum of the Victims of Communism and of the Resistance is the main museum of communism in Romania. This article a ends to this museum's politics of representing gender and argues that its exhibits reify resistance to and victimization by the communist regime as masculine. The museum marginalizes women, in general, and renders unmemorable women's lives under Nicolae Ceauşescu's pronatalist regime, in particular. The absence is significant because Romania is the only country in the former communist bloc where women experienced unique forms of systematic political victimization under Ceauşescu's nationalist-socialist politics of forced birth. This article illustrates how the museum's investment in an anti-communist discourse creates a gendered representation of political action under the communist regime.
The Case of Wanda Wasilewska and Polish Communism
The article sketches “a personal genealogy” of Wanda Wasilewska (1905–1964): a writer, a devoted communist, and head of Związek Patriotów Polskich (Union of Polish Patriots) in the USSR during World War II. Referring to Michel Foucault’s lectures on “revolution which becomes an existential project,” the author frames Wasilewska neither as a communist icon nor as a symbol of national betrayal, but instead as a living human being, a social actor, a person strongly embedded in the historical and geopolitical context of her era. The author reconstructs the process of shaping the communist identity in prewar Poland, points to the moments of transgressing subsequent boundaries—gender, national, and class—and uncovers a gradual exploring of the limits of the communist transgression by the protagonist.
From many perspectives, the Chinese Communist Party’s approach to gender equality and feminism offers a shining example of communism’s ideological limitations, and its historical failure to serve women’s interests. From its earliest days, Chinese communism upheld a platform of ‘sexual equality’ (nannü pingdeng), and implemented numerous policies to protect women’s equal rights. Yet its attacks on the epistemological foundations of Western feminism and its denunciation of the latter as little more than ‘bourgeois individualism’ give clear evidence of Miheala Miroiu’s ‘contradictio in terminis’.
Communism and Epistemology in Iva Pekárková's Novel Truck Stop Rainbows
Drawing on feminist conceptualisations of the body, this essay analyses Iva Pekárková’s novel, Truck Stop Rainbows (published as Péra a Perutě [Feathers and wings] in 1989, translated into English in 1992), to show how this contemporary Czech writer challenges the metaphor of the female body as a container through which communist propaganda in Czechoslovakia offi cially sanctioned and established a normative female identity in maternal, economic and civic functions. I seek to demonstrate how Fialka, the female protagonist who lives under the Czechoslovak communist regime of the 1980s, critiques discursive and epistemic formations that conceptualised the female body as a vessel for reproduction and labour and denied the female body the authority to function as a source of knowledge. Striving to spotlight the body in its cognitive role, I argue for an understanding of the body not as an instrument of knowledge or a neutral medium that enables knowledge production but, rather, as a condition of the possibility of knowing.
Daniel F. Ziblatt
The collapse of communism did not follow any single path in east
central Europe. In Hungary and Poland, the transition was marked
by early negotiations between opposition elites and the ruling Communist
party. In East Germany and Czechoslovakia, the regimes fell
victim to a sudden and quick implosion. In Romania and Bulgaria,
internal coups replaced the ruling communist elite with other members
of the nomenklatura. The transitions away from communist rule
diverged from each other in timing, manner, and degree.
Continuity and Change, 1945–1989
This article questions the claim that in Romania, the post-1990 period was one of radically greater freedom in religious matters, as well as greater religiosity on the part of the population. Instead, it suggests that continuity be er encapsulates the development of religiosity—religious beliefs and their embodiment in specific practices— among Orthodox Christians in Romania in the twentieth century. It also makes visible important imbalances, gaps, and faulty assumptions about the importance of institutions in the daily religious practices and beliefs of most Orthodox populations in the historiography on Orthodoxy in Romania. Scholars have failed to see continuities and have embraced analytical frameworks that stress change, especially around the communist takeover period (1945–1949) and the fall of communism (1989–1990). Central to re-evaluating this trajectory are two aspects of Orthodoxy in Romania: (1) most believers live in the countryside; and (2) women have remained central to the development and maintenance of religious practices in ways that cannot be accounted for through any institutional analysis of the Orthodox Church, because of its both implicit and explicit misogyny.
Notes on the Greek Case
If we want to situate the Greek case in a wider discussion as to whether the notion of a ‘Communist Feminism’ constitutes a contradiction in terms, it would be productive, in my view, to shift the question to focus on those aspects which might help us clarify the features specific to Greek history. As is widely known, communism in Greece has not been part of the political establishment and has been subject to harsh and systematic persecutions throughout the twentieth century. Consequently, the question is whether we can characterise the Greek version of communist theory and praxis, as it was expressed by the main source of communist ideas in Greece, the Greek Communist Party (KKE), as ‘feminist’ in any way. To answer this question, however, we should first define exactly what we mean by the term feminist, or whether feminism also includes a communist constituent.
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.
This article argues that the symbolic borders of Europe and the existence of external Others have been at times more important than Europe's center or its actual physical boundaries, especially during the first decades after the foundation of the European Communities. Analyzing textual and visual sources taken from some ninety French, Italian, and German history textbooks published between 1950 and 2005, the various sequences in which European integration has been constructed are highlighted. Communism, the first external Other, provided the first minimum common denominator for a nascent political Europe. It was not until the end of the Cold War that a projection of a distinct European identity appeared. Nevertheless, the role of new external Other(s) remains important for the evolution of the discourse of a European identity. This article draws attention to the Others, seeking to embed the Others' perspective in narratives of Europe.