Workshop ‘ Nationalism and Communism’ Workshop
Eastern European History and Eastern European Studies,
University of Amsterdam, 25 April 2008
After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 nationalism suddenly resurfaced in Eastern Europe, or so the common wisdom goes. This implies communism and nationalism have little to do with each other. In reality, the communist regimes of Europe all flew the national flag in order to gain popular legitimacy. After 1948, the People’s Republics of Central and Eastern Europe constructed the state ideology of ‘Socialist Patriotism’, a conscious blend of national and socialist imagery. Parties presented themselves as heirs to national traditions, and as guardians of national interests. They appropriated national symbols and heroes, and pursued ‘national’ policies whenever possible.
This was not just the case in Europe. From Cuba to Korea, communist parties and states presented themselves as patriots. A national communist self-image was not the exception, but the rule. It is surprising that the communist “invention of tradition” and the socialist “imagined community” have been studied relatively little. Though there is an extensive body of literature on the relationship between communism and nationalism, the national element in communist ideology has on the whole remained from view.
This has changed in recent years. Independent of one another, several excellent studies have been published on attempts by communists in individual countries to gain national legitimacy. This informal workshop aims to be a first step towards a more comprehensive view. Students of nationalism, historians of communism, specialists on Cold War history, as well as country or regional experts, are invited to give their opinion.
Presenters of papers are welcome to concentrate on an individual state, party, national symbol or policy, but are asked to place these in a broader context. To what extent does ‘Socialist Patriotism’ fit into existing theories of nationalism? Could communists actually be called ‘nationalistic’ or even ‘nationalists’? Was the communist use of national propaganda instrumental and exploitative, or was it founded on progressive traditions of nationalism? How were national credentials of local parties squared with proletarian internationalism and the alliance with other communist countries? To what extent did communist parties construct ethnic “ enemies of the people”? In what way did anti-Semitism influence the national credentials of communist parties? Was communist national propaganda ultimately successful?
These and other questions will be central to the discussions at the meeting.
A practical goal is take first steps towards the organization of a larger workshop on this topic in 2009. This is to culminate in an edited volume on nationalism and communism.
Please send proposals for papers (max 400 words) to dr. Martin Mevius before 15 February 2008 (firstname.lastname@example.org , Eastern European History and Eastern European Studies, Postbus 134, 1012 VB Amsterdam, tel +31205252269, Fax: +31 20 5252086).
Balázs Apor (EUI, Florence)
Jan C Behrends (Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin)
Ragnheidur Kristjánsdóttir (University of Iceland)
Árpád von Klimo (Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung, Potsdam)
Martin Mevius (University of Amsterdam)
dr Martin Mevius
Eastern European History and Eastern European Studies, University of Amsterdam
Postbus 134, 1012 VB Amsterdam
Phone: +31 20 5252269,
Fax: +31 20 5252086 Email: email@example.com
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