september, 2015

22sep16:35- 17:55Panel 3. Difficult HeritageCoping with the Past16:35 - 17:55 Dobra 56/66, CONFERENCE ROOM 256 Biblioteka Uniwersytecka w Warszawie

Event Details

Zarycki Tomasz, Institute for Social Studies, University of Warsaw, Rejection of the Communist Past as a Part of the Civic Moral Code.

Jeffrey Alexander has argued that modern societies are organized around moral universals which can be reconstructed as sets of binary oppositions. These binary codes form the frames of civil society discourse which is a naturalized moral language of the contemporary Western civilization. The paper will argue that rejection of the communist past has been successfully integrated into moral codes of most of the Central European post-communist societies. In contrast, in Russia the political scene, and also what Pierre Bourdieu calls the “field of power”, still remain divided regarding the moral interpretation of the communist period. This may be one of the ways of interpretation of the fundamental difference in status of the communist era heritage in Russia and most countries of the Central Europe, where the rejection of the communist past also serves as one of the key moral justifications of the current political order. As it will be argued the Polish context, the condemnation of the communist past is also one of the elements of the symbolic hegemony of the intelligentsia. This does not mean however, that borders between what is considered as “bad heritage” of the communist period and what is may be seen as more of less “neutral” heritage of that period are not occasionally contested. The paper will show on selected examples how the above mentioned mechanisms allow the Polish intelligentsia to reinforce its status and effectively use the negatively defined communist-era heritage in its internal conflicts.


Stanivukovic Senka Neuman, James Leigh, University of Groningen, Tito’s Legacy in Former Yugoslavia – between Memory and Oblivion.

The paper, positioned at the intersection of politics and culture, studies how different post-Yugoslav countries have coped with their contentious socialist history, with particular reference to the Titoist legacy. Questions of continuity and change in the articulation of the Tito-past (his image, work, and legacy) are studied in the context of Nora’s work on lieux de mémoire. We problematize the role of physical space – memorials, squares, cities, commemoration practices and social and personal rituals – in the production of new narratives of the Tito-past. We diverge from more conventional, discursive readings of cultural memory to study performativity and construction of meaning through actions at political, societal, and individual levels. Thus we are able to see a heterogeneous representation of Tito that variously includes radical breaks with the past, elements of Yugo-nostalgia, and articulation of political dissent, as well as indirect references to political strength and leadership. Using examples of specific memory sites in Kosovo, Croatia, and Macedonia, we argue that regime changes in the 1990s and early 2000s have produced multiple narratives of the Titoist era, which exist at all examined levels of analysis; the individual, the state and the inter-state level.

Taking the perspective of absence as a starting point, we consider changes undergone by sites in Kosovo formerly honouring Tito since the late 1980s, both during the Milošević era of the 1990s and in the post-conflict society which followed the 1999 war. References to active forgetting in the Kosovar context are compared to the re-appropriation of Tito’s birthplace Kumrovec as a refugee center in the 1990s and its depoliticization as a tourist site throughout the 2000s. Simultaneously, these findings are confronted by the continuous mythologization of Tito in the post-Yugoslav period. Particularly interesting here is the unsolicited and illegal erection of a Tito statue in Skopje to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the SFRY in 2013. Although the memorial primarily stands as a symbol of Yugo-nostalgia, its illegal character enabled artists to frame Tito as a subversive icon in a protest against the absurdities of the transition.


Sebestyen Monica, The Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urbanism, Bucharest, Some Problematics Regarding the “Heritage” of the Communist Period.

Bucharest is strongly marked by the communist period but, at the present, few cases can be found in which the memory of communism is officially associated with certain public spaces/buildings/memorials or is being displayed in museums. The communist past seems to be rather occulted.

This can clearly be seen in the chosen example of what is now called the Nation’s Heroes Memorial from the Carol I Park in Bucharest. The monument built in 1963 as a funeral place for the communist leaders does no longer refer to the communist past, becoming a national symbol to commemorate the national heroes.

Starting from this example, our aim is to identify how the built “heritage” of this recent period can be tackled, considering its both architectural and memorial value, which can be problematic from an ideological point of view. We investigate what and how is preserved, what meanings these landmarks embody and how is the communist past addressed.

The present paper is focused on the complex and multifaceted aspects of the connections between memory, built environment and politics, underlining the role of monuments and urban space in legitimizing the power and revealing its relation to the past.


(Tuesday) 16:35 - 17:55


University of Warsaw Library

Dobra 56/66, CONFERENCE ROOM 256

University of Warsaw LibraryDobra 56/66, CONFERENCE ROOM 256

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