Theatricality and Socialist Realism in Romanian Theatre, 1946-1963

by Viviana Iacob

Originally published in Romanian > “Teatralitate şi realism socialist în teatrul românesc, 1946-1963”,  Studii şi Materiale de Istorie Contemporană, vol. 15/2016.

The article aims to show that when theatricality resurfaced in Romanian theatre debates after 1956, it did not replace the tenets of socialist realism altogether. It was rather a catalyst for the later to evolve into a more sustainable ideological construct in the context of de-Stalinization. The years after Stalin’s death produce in Eastern Europe tremendous changes culminating with the explosive ideological situation of 1956. At a cultural level, these changes unleashed important transformations without displacing however the socialist bedrock. The interwar debates dedicated to the burgeoning issue of theatricality and the western theatre tradition were still filtered through aesthetic coordinates that were put in place during the Stalinist period. The article focuses on debates generated around specific performances which premiered between 1946 and 1963. These events reshaped the socialist realist aesthetic by way of theatricality resulting in a reciprocally corrosive relationship in the following years. The article concludes that the recalibration of the socialist realist formula amounted to a selective process of appropriation that was done both laterally and diachronically. This approach engendered a new form of theatricality. Not a replacement of old socialist realist theatre aestetic but its refashioning.

Shakespeare as Détente: Cultural Diplomacy During the Cold War (1955–1964)

by Viviana Iacob, in Revista istorică, tom XXVI, 2015, nr. 3–4.

The article argues that events such as 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. They were the most visible results of an exchange program with Great Britain that began in earnest in the mid-1950s. With the start of Khrushchev’s 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 the UK’s, Shakespeare was always the starting point for transnational exchanges. From the mid-fifties onward, Romanian theatre practitioners and Shakespeare scholars pursued such interactions not only as a means to strengthen diplomatic ties between the two countries, but also as a medium for mutual cultural transfers with tremendous impact by the 1960s.

CFP: The Other Globalisers: How the Socialist and the Non-Aligned World Shaped the Rise of Post-War Economic Globalisation

Date and Location: 6-7 July 2017, University of Exeter, UK

Join the 1989 after 1989 research team for our conference on the “Other Globalisers” – how the socialist and the non-aligned world shaped the rise of post-war economic globalisation. Based at Exeter, this conference is the second in a series of events exploring how processes and practices that emerged from the socialist world shaped the re-globalised world of our times.

CALL FOR PAPERS

In the wake of the Second World War, the world economy began to ‘reglobalise’ – following the disintegrative processes of the interwar period. This story has most often been told as the final triumph of a neoliberal international order led by the West. Recent research, however, suggests that the creation of our modern interconnected world was not driven solely by the forces of Western capitalism, nor was it the only model of global economic interdependence that arose in the second half of the twentieth century. This conference aims to rethink the histories of postwar globalisation by focusing on the socialist and non-aligned world, whose roles in the rise of an economically interconnected world have received substantially less attention.

Continue reading CFP: The Other Globalisers: How the Socialist and the Non-Aligned World Shaped the Rise of Post-War Economic Globalisation

CFP: In-Between Empires: Trans-Imperial History in a Global Age

Original announcement is here.

Venue: Freie Universität Berlin, September 15-16, 2017

Organizers: Daniel Hedinger (LMU Munich), Nadin Heé (FU Berlin and Max Planck Institute for the History of Science) and Satoshi Mizutani (Doshisha University)

By focusing on spaces “in-between” empires – their connectivity, cooperation, and competition – this workshop aims at establishing a trans-imperial approach to the history of empires.

Imperial history has been booming for quite a while. Along the way, innovative approaches such as post-colonial history, global history, or new imperial history have provided us with thrilling insights into the omnipresence and the everydayness of the human experience of empires. Amidst all this diversity, many studies have focussed on entanglements between colonies and metropoles, but much less is known about trans-imperial dimensions of the game. On an empirical basis, inter-imperial perspectives, which compare several empires or consider competition between them, have become more important lately. Yet, such studies are scattered and this kind of research remains in its infancy. We still lack an overarching theoretical-methodological framework with which to address the spaces in-between empires. In other words: whereas national history has been transnationalized in the past decades, the same does not hold true for the history of empires. Thus, we would like to address the current state of research and at the same time ask how a future trans-imperial history could look. Continue reading CFP: In-Between Empires: Trans-Imperial History in a Global Age

CFP: Institutions and International Law in Eastern Europe

Original announcement is here.

Place and time: Leibniz-Institut für Geschichte und Kultur des östlichen Europa (GWZO), Leipzig, 28.09.2017 – 29.09.2017

International law is enjoying increasing popularity among historians of global and international affairs, due to a re-reading of legal norms and rules that questions a state-centered approach. Instead of seeing law as an outcome of state behavior, recent scholarship has examined the transnational character of law and legal communities, and the oftentimes complex negotiation processes that precede the codification and subsequent ratification of international conventions. This perspective aligns with the focus on border-crossing relations and on professional and nonstate actors and institutions that has become essential to global and international history. Moreover, connections forged between the history of international law and discussions of the limits of legal universalism have increased the legal dimension’s relevance for historians of empire and decolonization. Encircling notions of hegemony, imperialism, and civilization, and scrutinizing the role of international law in imperial and civilizing missions, this strand of research has given rise to regional histories of international law. Continue reading CFP: Institutions and International Law in Eastern Europe

Retrospective Justice and Legal Culture

by Raluca Grosescu and Agata Fijalkowski

Chapter in Lavinia Stan, Lucian Turcescu (eds.), Justice, Memory and Redress: New Insights from Romania (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars, 2017), pp. 100-123.

This chapter explores the relationship between legal culture and retrospective justice in transition, in post-1989 Bulgaria, Germany and Romania. It analyses the different legal narratives that framed trials regarding state crimes committed under communist rule. It specifically focuses on those cases where the application of retroactive law was necessary in order to prosecute, namely: the Bulgarian Lovech camp trial; the German Border Guards’ trials; and the Romanian cases concerning political crimes committed in the 1950s. Most of the scholarship on post-communist transitional justice has emphasised the nature of the communist regime, the exit from dictatorship, or the party struggle for political power during transition as the main determinants that influenced judicial accountability after 1989. We argue that the legal culture, in particular, the judiciary’s understanding of legal formalism and international human rights law, is another important determinant, generally overlooked by the literature.  The chapter first considers the evolution of legal ideology since World War II in Romania, Bulgaria, and Germany. It then analyses the legal debates on the application of retrospective accountability after 1989. It concludes that the different approaches to retrospective justice were strongly influenced by the dominant culture of legal experts.