This course explores the politics of history in the communist era and beyond in Central and Eastern Europe. The course focuses on the variety of ways history was approached and represented in the region between the end of World War II and the fall of the communist dictatorships. It scrutinizes the constant attempts to rewrite and revise historical narratives, rearrange exhibitions and reset monuments. To this end, the course investigates various primary and secondary sources related to the representations of the past, mainly museums, monuments, documentaries, artworks, political statements, and academic works. Special attention will be paid to the political uses of history and memory in nation-building and state legitimacy, two key aspects to understand broader political cultures in contemporary Central and Eastern Europe.The course approaches these themes in a longer term historical perspective and a comparative framework. It investigates the bewildering variety of the uses of the past in Central and Eastern Europe and sets the emphasis on elucidating the heterogeneity of historical cultures in the region. It explores the broader European context of the politics of history following WWII and puts special emphasis on ways of making sense of the experiences of occupation and the war. Further, the course pays special attention to the legacies of communist politics of history and its revisions after 1989 and investigates the main trends and paradigms of postcommunist politics of history and memory.
- Instructor: Peter Apor