Quest for a Suitable Past

Myths and Memory in Central and Eastern Europe
$58.00 / €48.00 / £42.00
Kindle edition is available through Amazon
Publication date: 
164 pages

The past may be approached from a variety of directions. A myth reunites people around certain values and projects and pushes them in one direction or another.

The present volume brings together a range of case studies of myth making and myth breaking in east Europe from the nineteenth century to the present day. In particular, it focuses on the complex process through which memories are transformed into myths. This problematic interplay between memory and myth-making is analyzed in conjunction with the role of myths in the political and social life of the region.

The essays include cases of forging myths about national pre-history, about the endorsement of nation building by means of historiography, and above all, about communist and post-communist mythologies. The studies shed new light on the creation of local and national identities, as well as the legitimization of ideologies through myth-making. Together, the contributions show that myths were often instrumental in the vast projects of social and political mobilization during a period which has witnessed, among others, two world wars and the harsh oppression of the communist regimes.

  • Foreword - Lucian Boia
  • Introduction - Claudia-Florentina Dobre
  • An Obscure Object of Desire: The Myth of Alba Iulia and its Social Functions, 1918–1940 - Gábor Egry
  • Croatia between the Myths of the Nation-State and of the Common European Past - Neven Budak
  • Deconstructing the Myth of the “Wicked German” in Northern and Western Parts of Poland: Local Approaches to Cultural Heritage - Izabela Skórzyńska and Anna Wachowiak
  • Mythologizing the Biographies of Romanian Underground Communists: The Case Study of Miron Constantinescu - Ştefan Bosomitu
  • Women in the Communist Party: Debunking a (Post-)Communist Mythology - Luciana-Marioara Jinga
  • Avatars of the Social Imaginary: Myths about Romanian Communism after 1989 - Claudia-Florentina Dobre
  • Post-Communist Politics of Memory and the New Regime of Historiography: Recent Controversies on the Memory of the “Forty-Five Years of the Communist Yoke” and the “Myth of Batak” - Liliana Deyanova
  • The Phenomenon of “Parahistory” in Post-Communist Bulgaria: Old Theories and New Myths on Proto-Bulgarians - Alexander Nikolov
  • Note on contributors
"Der von Claudia-Florentina Dobre und Cristian Emilian Ghiţă herausgegebene Sammelband setzt sich zum Ziel, das Zusammenspiel zwischen Mythos und Erinnerung an Beispielen aus mittel- und osteuropäischen Ländern zu beleuchten. Damit sollen zum einen die Prozesse der Mythenbildung analysiert werden, die in diesen Ländern als besonders kompliziert gelten und folglich zum besseren Verständnis der Mythenbildung beitragen können. Zum anderen liegt der Fokus auf den politischen und gesell-schaftlichen Funktionen der Mythen, die – so die These der Herausgeber – auch in modernen, sich als rational verstehenden Gesellschaften nach wie vor eine Rolle spielen und zur politischen Mobilisierung instrumentalisiert werden. "
"By playing on the memory of recent events, the myth-makers built their own legitimacy and attempt at establishing their own myth. Quest for a Suitable Past brilliantly addresses the birth and development of several myths in contemporary Central and Eastern Europe. its originality consists in linking cultural memory and myth-making entrepreneurship, providing the reader with a wide range of well-researched chapters on how memory is shaped by politics. The volume is useful for researchers but also suitable for classroom use, due to the conciseness and clarity of each chapter. As Lucian Boia has written in the foreword, the volume is “only a beginning” in the investigation of how myths and mythologies have accompanied the recent history of Central and Eastern Europe."
"Lucrările acestui volum ne oferă o imagine a mitului polimorfică, polivalentă şi voit ambiguă. În unele studii, mitul este considerat un principiu unificator, care are capacitatea de a traversa timpul, de a acumula noi sensuri şi de a se transforma în funcţie de epocă, de situaţie, de loc, jucând un rol important în crearea, promovarea şi perpetuarea identităţii şi valorilor culturale şi politice ale unei comunităţi, societăţi, naţiuni. În câteva articole, miturile sunt prezentate drept o elaborare sistematică a memoriei colective, iar alteori ele se identifică cu o memorie naţională instrumentalizată politic şi/sau ideologic. Prin diversitatea studiilor de caz şi a perspectivelor din care acestea au fost abordate, volumul coordonat de Claudia-Florentina Dobre şi Cristian Emilian Ghiţă merită din plin toată atenţia cititorilor interesaţi de conexiunile dintre memorie şi mit ca modalităţi de constituire a identităţilor naţionale şi locale şi de justificare/legitimare a... more