Difficult Heritage in Southeastern Europe : Local and Transnational Entanglements in Memorializing Political Prisons after Socialism

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2023
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Journal of Contemporary History. Sage. 2023, 59(1), pp. 91-119. ISSN 0022-0094. eISSN 1461-7250. Available under: doi: 10.1177/00220094231210783
Zusammenfassung

Throughout Central and Eastern Europe, various governments supported the creation of memorial museums of political violence during state socialism. While much scholarly attention has been given to Hungary’s House of Terror and the Baltic museums of occupations, this article examines the contrasting situation in Southeastern Europe, where state actors were generally absent and which witnessed relatively belated and overwhelmingly bottom-up processes. The article analyses the particularity of political prisons as ‘difficult heritage’. It scrutinizes the commonalities and entanglements between the memorialization of political prisons in three Southeastern European countries marked by distinctive trajectories both during and after communism: Albania (Spaç), Romania (Sighet and Piteşti), and Croatia (Goli Otok). The article shows how in the absence of state-level policies to address transitional justice, activism surrounding difficult heritage memorialization has aimed to fill the gap. It also argues that the relationship between site memorialization in Southeastern Europe and the wider European models is doubly constitutive: first, the memorialization of Sighet in 1990s Romania borrowed approaches from Western European Holocaust memorialization, then shaped a European wide set of best practices; second, a wave of new memorial initiatives after 2010 in Southeastern Europe was connected to the Europeanization of memory and transnational engagements.

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communism, dictatorship, difficult heritage, memory, prison, Southeastern Europe
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ISO 690BADESCU, Gruia, 2023. Difficult Heritage in Southeastern Europe : Local and Transnational Entanglements in Memorializing Political Prisons after Socialism. In: Journal of Contemporary History. Sage. 2023, 59(1), pp. 91-119. ISSN 0022-0094. eISSN 1461-7250. Available under: doi: 10.1177/00220094231210783
BibTex
@article{Badescu2023-11-13Diffi-68869,
  year={2023},
  doi={10.1177/00220094231210783},
  title={Difficult Heritage in Southeastern Europe : Local and Transnational Entanglements in Memorializing Political Prisons after Socialism},
  number={1},
  volume={59},
  issn={0022-0094},
  journal={Journal of Contemporary History},
  pages={91--119},
  author={Badescu, Gruia}
}
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