Exporting Socialist Theatre to the World: A Romanian Case Study

by Viviana Iacob at the IFTR Conference 2017Unstable Geographies, Multiple Theatricalities, Universidade de São Paulo, 10-14 July, 2017.

In 1961 The Lost Letter, a play by Romanian classic Ion Luca Caragiale opened in Tokyo. This was the height of Cold War, thus making connections between a socialist country and Imperial Japan an interesting case in trans-ideological spatiality and performance. The event was not an isolated one. This play held a center role in the Romanian socialist cultural policy program which internationalized itself through theatre.  Its production history outside the Iron Curtain begins in 1955 and by 1962 the play was performed by theatre troupes and companies in Finland, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, Argentina, Peru, Uruguay and Japan.

The 1962 Caragiale celebration is in fact the end point of a theatre diplomacy project that started in the early 1950s and entailed translating The Lost Letter in 15 languages, touring with it and staging it in 12 countries.

The production history of this play beyond national borders shows a network of people that strived for cross-cultural communication even when there were no official diplomatic ties to speak of. It reveals the difficulties entailed by the process of exporting a socialist cultural product and by extension of a different understanding of theatricality to dissimilar cultural milieus.

The paper focuses on the routes and connections found by Romanian cultural officials and theatre artists into different national contexts and the instruments they used in order to promote the idea of Romanian theatre as the expression of a socialist culture worldwide.

 

Global Advocacy or Self-Interested Relativism? Socialist Romania, International Organizations, and the Quest for Economic Development (1960s-1980s)

by Vlad Pașca, at the conference The Other Globalisers: How the Socialist and the Non-Aligned World Shaped the Rise of Post-War Economic Globalisation, University of Exeter, 6-7 July 2017

Since early 1960s, socialist Romania insulated itself within the Comecon due to its nationalist and anti-hegemonic perspectives, which translated into fending away of cooperation projects with other member states. This position though was accompanied by a renewed readiness towards trans-systemic cooperation on the European and the global scene. In order to satisfy its developmental drive, two strategies were designed by the party leadership in tandem with economic experts. First, they emphasized Romania’s European affiliation as a common denominator in negotiating trade relations and economic cooperation before and during the negotiation at the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE). Second, the country’s representatives, both in international organizations and in bilateral relations, made efforts towards the recognition of Romania’s status as developing socialist country. Simultaneously, Romania’s multiple initiatives in both the European (UN Economic Commission for Europe, CSCE) and global organizations or agencies (UNCTAD or the group of 77) shaped its image of world-peace promoter and advocate of a new international economic order. Continue reading Global Advocacy or Self-Interested Relativism? Socialist Romania, International Organizations, and the Quest for Economic Development (1960s-1980s)

Theatre Diplomacy during the Cold War: Bucharest 1964, Vienna 1965

by Viviana Iacob, at the International Federation for Theatre Research Conference, Stockholm, 13-16 June, 2016

The Cold War transformed cultural production after 1945 into a weapon. Debates were reshaped in the struggle for civilasational supremacy and theatre was no stranger to the clash between the two competing views on modernity.  However, with the beginning of détente in Europe, the cultural criticism of communist states gained an inclusive dimension. In spite of the ideological rejection of western cultural production, these countries’ representatives also sought rapprochement and recognition. Starting with late 1950s, international institutions, congresses, symposia and tours became arenas for the battle between ideologies. Simultaneously, such fora were also transnational spaces for finding common ground. The two examples I wish to discuss in my presentation are the 1964 International Theatre Institute Second Symposium on the Role of Improvisation in Actor Training held in Bucharest and the 1965 Meeting of Theatre Experts from East and West held in Vienna. The common denominator of these two events was the principle of collaboration between East and West. In my paper I will focus on the nature and outcomes of the dialogue among theatre practitioners. I will point out the elements upon which East and West converged during the proceedings of these two gatherings. Bucharest and Vienna became, in 1964 and 1965 respectively, ecumenical spaces of intellectual interaction. For example, the debates on teaching methods applied in theatre education, at the ITI symposium in 1964, illustrated by Romanian, Italian and American student groups, amounted to an exercise in trans-systemic cultural cooperation. It proved East Europeans’ willingness to engage with a plurality of approaches in the theatre.

Shakespeare as Détente: Cultural Diplomacy during the Cold War

by Viviana Iacob, at Shakespeare in Romania, Shakespeare in the World, Romanian Academy Library, Bucharest, 12-14 April, 2016.

Abstract

The visit of the Royal Shakespeare Company in Bucharest and the Romanian delegation at Stratford in 1964 were not singular and momentous achievements of détente cultural diplomacy. I consider themvisible results of an exchange program with Great Britain that begins in earnest in the mid-1950s.

During the Cold War, theatre was no stranger to the clash between the two competing views on modernity. With the beginning of détente in Europe, the countries behind the Iron Curtain capitalized on points of contact that would speed up the cultural rapprochement. Consequently, when it came to engaging with a western theatre tradition such as Britain’s, Shakespeare was always thestarting point for this transnational conversation. Continue reading Shakespeare as Détente: Cultural Diplomacy during the Cold War

The Legacy of State Socialism in International Criminal Law

The Legacy of State Socialism in International Criminal Law: The Case of the 1968 UN Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity

by Raluca Grosescu, at Justice in Communist and Post-Communist Regimes, Faculty of Law – University of Bucharest & The Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of the Romanian Exile (IICCMER), Bucharest, 6-10 October 2015.

 Abstract

This paper analyses the role of state-socialist countries in the development of international criminal law, through the example of the 1968 UN Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity. It examines the context, the negotiations and the interpretations that had been given to the Convention in 1968. It then focuses on the Convention’s application and its new readings in domestic prosecutions of human rights abuses in Argentina and Estonia in the 2000s. The paper argues that international criminal law norms initiated or supported by state-socialist countries during the Cold War have been instrumental in trials dealing with crimes of authoritarian regimes during the “third-wave of democratization” in Latin America and Eastern Europe. It also reflects on the historicity of law. It discusses how legal norms constructed in a particular historical context with a specific political purpose are re-interpreted and re-negotiated in order to fulfil new political goals in the present.

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