// Lecture: Cosmin Borza, The Anti-communist Readings of the National Poet. An East-Central Europe Case Study , Linnaeus University, Växjö (Sweden), March 13, 2019

This presentation seeks to problematize one of the most paradoxical and controversial phenomena of the post-communist era – the issue of nationalism. Contrary to Western intelligentsiaʼs common view of communism and nationalism as opposite ideologies, for several researchers from East-Central Europe “communism came to be seen not so much as a break with a previous ʻbourgeoisʼ national past but rather as its apotheosis” (Charles King, Post-Postcommunism: Transition, Comparison, and the End of “Eastern Europe”, 2000).

It hardly comes as a surprise that the post-1989 nationalism was labelled as the most “perilous legacy” of the former totalitarian regime. As pointed out by Michael D. Kennedy (Cultural Formations of Postcommunism. Emancipation, Transition, Nation, and War, 2002), even the Yugoslav Succession wars were cynically regarded as “the unspoken, but deadly alternative to markets and pluralism”. Therefore, the anti-communist, Westernizing intellectual elite obsessively equated the estrangement from the centralized national state with democracy and European (re)integration.

“Denationalization”/“decommunization”, “privatization”, and “antinostalgia” began to be the new watchwords of post-communist East-Central Europe, powering one of the most prominent cultural debates of post-communism, namely the reorganization of the literary canon, whose main focus was the critical reassessment of the national poet. In order to explain why de-mythicizing the institution of the “national poet” illustrates closely and deeply the ideological, cultural and identity-related changes in postcommunist East-Central Europe, this presentation analyzes a series of critical and imagistic reconsiderations brought about by the fact that anti-communist, pro-Western intellectual elites regarded the cult of the national poet as a symptom of cultural and ideological backwardness, typical for the ‘uncivilized’ East, scarred as it was by the trauma of national communism.

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// Exploratory workshop, February 22-23, 2019

Babes-Bolyai University, Faculty of Theatre and Film / European Studies

Mapping Romanian Anticommunism: political discourse, collective memory and cultural production

Full program here