Student Blog: Memory

September 5, 2019

The following blog is the outcome of our ESSR Summer School: State Socialism Beyond Textbooks, and it was written by summer school students (and then edited for clarity). The task was to see an object of their choice through the lens of different perspectives, as we develop them in our methodological guidelines. And while it may lack some historical accuracy, it testifies to our students’ deep interest in the past.

It is important for us to understand the designation between collective and personal memory.

The typical communist neighbourhood represents the life of the workers. It is packed with enormous bland buildings with many flats and small apartments. The small living spaces were inhabited by families in which usually not only the father had to work in order to make money for the family.

Some workers usually got awarded for their hard work. Awards were usually badges, and they were not that easy to acquire. Everywhere was different but lots of labour was always in needed.

Nowadays we can see the remnants of communism everywhere. Some people don’t even notice them in their everyday life. They mean different things for everyone. The badges and the buildings can make people remember. Everyone was secure. The communist regimes gave them jobs, food, and flats. There weren’t any homeless people in the streets.

When people go to the neighbourhoods they get a sense of overwhelming nostalgia because of the old times.

On the one hand, this remembrance is structured in advance by virtue of being mediated by products of organizations like the Securitate, which strive to “ensure” formal control over the definition of the past in the present; on the other hand, it is unstructured and guided by the living concerns of members whose memory practices are obliged to pass by way of such mediation.

Written by:

Selma Pandza — Bosnia

Boyan Katinov — Bulgaria

Sára Horejšová — Czech Republic

Andrea Popovičová — Slovakia