Pasts into Present: Ideology, Memory, and Monuments in Communist and Post-communist Romania

Claudia-Florentina Dobre


My article deals with the struggle to control the representation of the pasts both by communist and post-communist authorities. It focuses on monuments as core items of cultural memory and of ideological driven politics and public policies. Monuments are contradictory, versatile symbols, being invisible or over-visible depending on political situation and historical contexts. They are among the first to be demolished or built when changes occurs in a society. By destroying, re-appropriation and re-interpretation as well as constructing new monuments both communist and post-communist authorities engaged in a process of creating a (new) national/cultural memory and identity as well as in legitimating the (new) political order. I argue that the communist monuments were meant to legitimize and glorify the regime and its main figures and symbols while the post-communist statues and memorials reflect the plurality of discourse on the Romanian past and present while stimulating reflection and debates (at least among elites). Furthermore, I stress that the artistic value of the analyzed monuments is subdue to theirs ideological and memorial functions

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