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Socialist Heritage and Museum Practices after 1989: between Nostalgia, Denunciation, and Disneyification

The class approaches at a close glance the attempts for putting the communist period in museum displays. Tracing the dynamics of museum making in different countries of Eastern Europe, the class elicits the main tendencies related to the period’s museumization, particularly to those of nostalgic idealization, traumatic discarding, and entertaining representations. Separate attention is paid to communist heritage tourism after 1989 and too the various guided tours to sites and traces of the communist period.

Texts for discussion:

  • Silke, A. S., Ostalgie – Nostalgia for GDR Everyday Culture? The GDR in the Museum. In: Silke, A. S., Mediating Memory in the Museum. Trauma, Empathy, Nostalgia. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, 160-186.
  • Vukov, N. “The ‘Unmemorable’ and the ‘Unforgettable’: Museum Visualizations in Post-1989 Bulgaria.” – In: Sarkisova, O., P. Apor, Past for the Eyes: East European Representations of Communism in Cinema and Museums after 1989. Budapest, New York: CEU Press, 2008, 307-334.
  • Vukov, N., The Museum of Socialist Art in Sofia and the Politics of Avoidance – Forum Geschichtskulturen, Jena, 2012 –

Additional readings:

  • Caraba, C., “Communist Heritage Tourism and Red Tourism: Concepts, Development and Problems”, Cinq Continents 1(1), 2011, 29-39.
  • Light, D., “An Unwanted Past: Contemporary Tourism and the Heritage of Communism in Romania”, International Journal of Heritage Studies 6(2), 2000, 145-160.
  • Казаларска, С., Музеят на комунизма – между паметта, историята, политиката и пазара. София, 2013. [Kazalarska, S., The Museum of Communism. Between Memory and History, Politics and the Market. Sofia, 2013].