History’s Debris. The Many Pasts in the Post-1989 Present

“History’s Debris. The Many Pasts in the Post-1989 Present,” Südosteuropa 64 (2016), no. 2, pp. 119-141.

by Bogdan C. Iacob


The article is a reassessment of the aftermaths of the events of 1989 in (South-)Eastern Europe. It supplements the well-worn debate pitting civil vs. uncivil society with examinations of the role nationalism has played in the formerly socialist bloc and of the (self-)identification practices within the region’s societies. Here I map the various postcommunist legacies that have affected the region’s countries. Grand explanations of the upheaval of 1989 tend to obscure and simplify the continuities that have extended beyond this threshold year. Common trends within the region, which often remain hidden in the long shadow of 1989, may explain contemporary tensions between the revival of civic mobilization and the rise of populism. I conclude that only by clearing history’s debris—from before and after 1989—will we understand the nature and identity of the ‘we’ who claim, contest, or (increasingly seldom) celebrate this annus mirabilis.

Full text here.


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