Heroes and Victims: Remembering War in Twentieth-Century Romania

Heroes and Victims: Remembering War in Twentieth-Century Romania

Heroes and Victims: Remembering War in Twentieth-Century Romania

Heroes and Victims: Remembering War in Twentieth-Century Romania

Synopsis

Heroes and Victims explores the cultural power of war memorials in 20th-century Romania through two world wars and a succession of radical political changes--from attempts to create pluralist democratic political institutions after World War I to shifts toward authoritarian rule in the 1930s, to military dictatorships and Nazi occupation, to communist dictatorships, and finally to pluralist democracies with populist tendencies. Examining the interplay of centrally articulated and locally developed commemorations, Maria Bucur's study engages monumental sites of memory, local funerary markers, rituals, and street names as well as autobiographical writings, novels, oral narratives, and film. This book reveals the ways in which a community's religious, ethnic, economic, regional, and gender traditions shaped local efforts at memorializing its war dead.

Excerpt

The kernel of this book was planted in 1997. Visiting Romania for the first time since completing my dissertation on the history of eugenics, I looked forward to refocusing my attention on the publishing industry’s initial flourishing in the first decade after Communism. As I scoured bookstores and vendors for new and interesting materials, I came to realize that a new phenomenon was taking place before my eyes. Everyone wanted to publish a memoir, and everyone else wanted to buy these memoirs, read them, talk about them, and critique them. The genre of the memoir was seeing such unprecedented growth, with some examples appearing in very small runs but still somehow making the rounds, that I began to collect these publications. Soon I realized that there were two periods favored by most readers: World War II and the Stalinist years of Communist persecution. Observing this literary phenomenon and also speaking to people who were more than a generation older than I was (in their mid-forties and older), it became apparent that for those generations the project of recovering and making sense of their memories of the 1940s–1950s was an urgent task, relevant to finding a new sense of social belonging.

This occurrence coincided with the beginnings of the growth of “memory studies” in U.S. and parts of European academia. I was thus fortunate to begin making sense of this vibrant phenomenon in post-Communist culture in the company of insightful historians and other scholars. This study stands on the shoulders of important precursors that have inspired and challenged me to find my own answers to complicated questions. The work of Jay Winter, John Bodnar, John Gillis, Catherine Merridale, Nina Tumarkin, Gaines Foster, Robert Moeller, Vieda Skultans, Rubie Watson, and many others, has offered rich examples of ways in which memory is important not just as playground for politicians or as a psychological phenomenon, but also as a realm for making cultural meaning out of violence and destruction. Their insights also challenged me to articulate where to situate the memory traces I was studying within a broader discourse about remembrance and identity in the modern world. Much of the . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.