Volume 10, Number 1, 2015
From Today’s Observation Post: Collaboration and Resistance under Communism
Vues du poste d’observation du présent : collaboration et résistance sous le communisme
Kollaboration und Widerstand im Kommunismus - Betrachtungen aus heutiger Sicht
Guest-edited by Lucian Turcescu and Barbara Thériault
Katherine Verdery’s latest book, an ethnography of the Archive of Romania’s Secret Police and the permission to copy and study a Securitate file, that of Iuliana, represents, for the author, the opportunity to write an unusual book review. Superposing the book and the file allows her to reflect on the work of secret police officers and that of ethnographers as well as questioning the practice of the sociological observer. As it turns out, the file adds a new dimension and an interpretation key to the book: beyond the importance of networks or social relationships as material secret police officers and ethnographers share, it discloses gossip as an empirical source and a recruitment technique. Centering on gossip helps the author in reformulating one of the book’s central arguments and delineating the contours of the “bourgeois,” a figure at the core of a new research project. The extreme character of the two cases at hand—material constituted toward a political end—sheds light on the relations ethnographers entertain to their informants as well as to dilemmas of research, which might otherwise remain unseen.
This article investigates the effects of the Soviet social engineering project and forced secularization in Central Asia. Emphasis is placed on the ideological foundations of Marxism-Leninism, its stance on atheism, its holistic character, and its ideological exclusivity. The article details the measures taken by authorities to eradicate religious beliefs during the seventy years of Soviet rule. Taking the case of Tajikistan, it highlights the remaining influence of Soviet policies on state-religion relations by reviewing the functions and responsibilities of current regulatory institutions as well as laws and official discourses framing religious practices.
After the fall of communism in 1989, Romania, as others countries from Central and Eastern Europe, had to deal with its recent past marked by two dictatorships, one on the extreme right, the other on the extreme left. However, it seems that the post-communist society is rather preoccupied by the consequences of the communist regime than the fascist one. As the anti-communist narrative has become mainstream since the beginning of the 2000s, the victims of communist prisons received more and more attention. Several voices asked for the canonization of those prisoners that distinguished themselves for their belief. The Aiud “prison saints” are part of this current. Their stories are not simple and neither is the history: some of those who died in communist prisons were affiliated to the extreme right in the 1930s and the 1940s. While the Orthodox Church avoids to discuss their canonization, the new “saints” became the object of a popular devotion, which gathers together not only believers, but also representatives of the Church and the civil society. This article explores what the devotion for “prison saints” represents in the lived religion. Following the pilgrims to Aiud monastery and narratives concerning the “prison saints,” it appears that their veneration is not “natural,” but rather the result of a construction. As it turns out, lived religion is a vehicle for values diverging from the official democratic discourse.
After the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia came to power in 1948, power struggles followed between political parties and long-running internal struggles within the country’s Roman Catholic Church over the church’s character and organizational structure. These struggles related not only to purely theological issues, but also to the ideals of communism (and, later, socialism), the Communist Party and its program. The internal plurality within the church throughout the whole period of the people’s democracy and state socialism in Czechoslovakia calls into question the dualistic image of struggles between the church and the Communist Party, and it complicates the image of the church as a victim of the Communist regime. In particular, the crucial periods from 1948 to 1952 and from 1968 to 1969 suggest that, throughout much of the communist period there persisted tensions between the higher and lower clergy and there were diverging views on how the church should function; these tensions took on a diversity of shapes and varied in intensity.
This article revisits the history of the Romanian Orthodox Church under communism and its instrumentalization after 1989 by focusing on the figure of Patriarch Justinian Marina (1948-1977). It argues that one of his successors and protégées, Patriarch Teoctist Arăpașu (1986-2007), had an interest in repainting Marina’s relation to the communist regime as opposition, more than collaboration, because he viewed the opening of the Securitate archives in 2000 with alarm, given the large number of Securitate informers among the Orthodox clergy. It then presents a debate that has taken place in post-1989 Romania about Patriarch Justinian, and concludes that a deeper understanding of the history of ROC under early communism is possible only if Justinian is seen as both a collaborator with the regime and a defender of the ROC.
The anti-communist armed resistance that occurred as a disparate and heterogeneous movement in Romania from 1944 until 1962 became a highly politicized topic after 1989. Some interpreted this history as an element of the national resistance against Soviet occupation and the ensuing forced communization. Others demonized the partisans (or at least minimized their role) and presented them as outlaws, fascists, and criminals. This essay analyzes the armed resistance and its place within the politics of memory from three interrelated perspectives: 1) as lived experience in the context of post-World War II emergence of communism; 2) it takes a concretely localized perspective; and 3) analyzes these lived experiences as they have been presented in autobiographical accounts heavily influenced by post-1989 anti-communist rhetoric. The article concludes that multiple histories of repression and resistance have so far tended to be incorporated in a master narrative and argues that an approach emphasizing localized lived experience may offer an alternative interpretative framework.
This short article discusses a series of Securitate documents which contain various inconsistencies, and which were written on or about the Romanian theologian Antonie Plamadeala. Examining these files, I attempt to reconstruct the case Securitate built against Plamadeala in the late 1940s, and point to errors and forgeries, which they may contain. Stated differently, I look at evidence, which may have been fabricated by Securitate in order to prove Plamadeala’s alleged ties to the Legionary Movement. I do this by first laying out the series of accusations the Romanian secret police brought against Plamadeala in 1949 and the way in which it constructed its evidence to support its case against him. I then offer a succinct analysis of ways in which one may derive truth from the plethora of information such files may bring to the attention of the modern investigator, truth which, as this article shows, is often juxtaposed with untruth in Securitate archival records.
Kolloquiumsbericht / Compte-rendu de colloque / Conference Report