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Of Red Dragons and Evil Spirits

Post-Communist Historiography between Democratization and New Politics of History


Edited by Oto Luthar

Oto Luthar is professor at the Research Center of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences, Ljubljana, Slovenia

The collection of well-researched essays assesses the uses and misuses of history 25 years after the collapse of Soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe. As opposed to the revival of national histories that seemed to be the prevailing historiographical approach of the 1990s, the last decade has seen a particular set of narratives equating Nazism and Communism. This provides opportunities to exonerate wartime collaboration, casting the nation as victim even when its government was allied with Germany. While the Jewish Holocaust is acknowledged, its meaning and significance are obfuscated.

In their comparative analysis the authors are also interested in new practices of ‘Europeanness’. Therefore their presentations of Slovak, Hungarian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Serbian, Bosnian, Croatian and Slovenian post-communist memory politics move beyond the common national myths in order to provide a new insight into transnational interactions and exchanges in Europe in general. The juxtaposition of these politics, the processes in other parts of Europe, the modes of remembering shaped by displacement and the transnational enable a close encounter with the divergences and assess the potential of the formation of common, European memory practices.

256 pages, cloth, 2017
$65.00 / €60.00 / £52.00

"Of Red Dragons and Evil Spirits proves comparative research to be relevant and exciting. With the overarching aim to contribute to surmounting the ‘bloc division of Europe, which still persists in viewing the East as a monolith’, this edited volume sets about to a) point out divergences in the memory cultures in postsocialist countries, and b) assess the potential to form common European memory practices. It thus analyses the changing mnemonic landscapes on two levels: within Eastern Europe and in Europe as a whole.
With nationalist historical revisionism as a common thread running through the bulk of the case studies, the message is in fact one of a shared postcommunist memory culture.
The authors identify the road to EU membership as the catalyst of how the attempt to establish a European memory canon failed.
In combination, the case studies provide the reader with a nuanced view on ‘all- Europeanness’ when it comes to memory. Even in the absence of a shared European historical narrative, common mnemonic practices have developed over time.
In sum, trying to overcome the ‘bloc division of Europe’ this edited volume contains highly relevant insights into the divergences in the memory cultures in postsocialist countries as well as into common European memory practices." - Südosteuropa


PREFACE / INTRODUCTION Oto Luthar: “Red Dragon and the Evil Spirits”
CHAPTER 1 Daniela Koleva: On the (In)convertibility of National Memory into European Legitimacy: The Bulgarian Case
CHAPTER 2 Ljiljana Radonić: Equalizing Jesus’s, Jewish and Croat Suffering—Post-Socialist Politics of History in Croatia
CHAPTER 3 Michael Shafi: Wars of Memory in Post-Communist Romania
CHAPTER 4 Todor Kuljić: Reflections on the Principles of the Critical Culture of Memory
CHAPTER 5 Miroslav Michela: The Struggle for Legitimacy: Constructing the National History of Slovakia After 1989
CHAPTER 6 Ferenc Laczó: Victims and Traditions: Narratives of Hungarian National History After the Age of Extremes
CHAPTER 7 Šačir Filandra: Instrumentalization of History in Bosnia and Herzegovina
CHAPTER 8 Oto Luthar: Post-Socialist Historiography Between Democratization and New Exclusivist Politics of History