Living relationships with the past: remembering communism in Romania
In the countries of Eastern Europe, the recent history of the communist regimes creates a context rich in various and often times contradictory remembering practices. While normative discourses of memory enacted in official forms of memory such as museums, memorials, monuments, or commemorative rituals attempt to castigate the communism in definite terms, remembering practices enacted in everyday life are more ambiguous and more tolerant of various interpretations of the communist past. This study offers a case study of the ways in which people remember communism in everyday life in Romania. While various inquiries into Eastern Europe's and also Romania's official and intentional forms of memorializing communism abound, few works address remembering practices in their entanglements with everyday life. From a methodological point of view, this study integrates a grounded methodology approach with a rhetorical sensitivity to explore the discourses, objects, events, and practices of remembering communism in Bucharest, the capital city of Romania. In doing so, this inquiry attends not only to the aspects of the present that animate the remembering of communism, but also and more specifically to the set of practices by which the remembering process is performed. The qualitative analysis revealed a number of conceptual categories that clustered around three major themes that describe the entanglements of remembering activities with everyday life. Relating the present to the past, sustaining the past in the present, and pursuing the communist past constitute the ways in which people in Romania live their relationships with the communist past in a way that reveals the complex interplay between private and public forms of memory, but also between the political, social, and cultural aspects of the remembering process. These themes also facilitate a holistic understanding of the rhetorical environment of remembering communism in Romania.