Communicating the past into the present. Young voices about communism and communists in Romania

Raluca PETRE


Abstract: More than two decades have passed since the fall of communism; meanwhile, a new generation has come to age in the post-communist countries, with no direct experience of the past, yet still influenced by it. In the pages to follow I try to bring the voice of young Romanians to the fore, for it is a voice which has scarcely been heard. How do young people communicate about a past that they did not experience but which nevertheless influences them? How do they appropriate the past and what does it mean for them? The hypothesis emerging from empirical exploration is that “communist” is the term that the youth uses to mark their distinction and rebellion against the adult generation. It is not as much a political category but an everyday term that would silence the “other” of youth, the adults. “Communists” are described as authoritarian, dictatorial, limited, rigid, and indoctrinated. While “communist” is a term that seems easy to describe, there is no clear and coherent opinion when it comes to “communism”. More often than not, young people adopt the standardised version of history textbooks and combine it with the stories heard from their parents. It is to be pointed out that often the two versions collide, the textbooks presenting the recent past in dark colours as abusive, dictatorial, totalitarian, while many parents emphasise the safety of work and lodgings

Keywords: collective memory, communism, communist generation, youth


Résumé: Plus de deux décennies sont passées depuis la chute du communisme ; une nouvelle génération s’est formée, une génération sans aucune expérience directe avec le passé, et cependant toujours sous son influence. Comment communiquent-ils les jeunes au sujet d’un passé dont ils n’ont pas l’expérience, mais qui les influence ? Comment arrivent-ils à s’approprier ce passé et quelle est sa signification ? Ce sont des questions auxquelles cet article tentera de répondre à partir de l’hypothèse suivante : « communiste » représente un terme que les jeunes utilisent pour se distinguer et marquer leur révolte contre la génération adulte.

Mots-clés: communisme, communiste, génération, jeunesse, mémoire collective

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