An OSCE survey on Albanians’ perceptions and understanding of the communist era astonished and angered a number of public figures in December 2016. Some expressed scepticism about the reported positive perception of the communist dictator Enver Hoxha by almost half of the respondents, while many others lamented the lack of a thorough “de-communisation”. Other findings of the survey such as the variety of opinions across different categories and contradictions within answers were largely ignored. The study and the reactions to it manifest the great contrast between the largely binary representation of communism in the political discourse and the manifold ways people remember it in private. Many public figures such politicians and political commentators largely ignore or lack awareness of the complexity of remembrance as well as of how different the personal experiences of communism were.
Against this background and trying to overcome the almost exclusive focus on the politics of memory, the conference “Between Apathy and Nostalgia: Public and Private Recollections of Communism in Contemporary Albania” explores and discusses the different ways communism is remembered and represented both in public (e.g. in political discourse, literature and arts, historiography and school books, museums, memoirs, media, social media and popular culture) and in private (across e.g. social, gender, urban-rural, geographical such as north-south, generational and professional borders). Investigating who remembers what, how and when, the conference aims at providing both a comprehensive and nuanced overview of communism remembrance in Albania. Furthermore, a keynote speech by Ulf Brunnbauer, two speeches on communism remembrance in Bulgaria and Romania by respectively Daniela Koleva and Cristian Vasile, and a panel discussion that brings together Albanian and non-Albanian scholars will provide the opportunity to compare the Albanian case with other Eastern Europe countries.
The organizers invite proposals for papers elaborating clearly defined research topics. They may scrutinise public narratives in certain fields or private memories of certain groups including those of young people who do not have experiential memory of communism themselves (“loan memory”). Furthermore, we are interested in discussing the interplay between public and personal memories, dynamics of the remembrance process (“postmemorial turn in remembering communism”), differences between remembering the system as a whole and certain events, congruencies and incongruences between experience and memory, which issues are suppressed or ignored when remembering communism and why as well as which factors shape the memories.
The academic conference is part of the annual event “Memory Days”, which the Institute for Democracy, Media and Culture in partnership with Konrad Adenauer Foundation is organizing for the second time (for a summary of the last year’s event please see: http://idmc.al/en/memory-as-a-mission.html).
Please send your abstract of no more than 300 words together with a short academic CV by 15 May 2017. The academic committee will select the abstracts and notify you by 31 May 2017. Please send your proposal as well as all other inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every participant can present only one paper as author or co-author. Every author can participate with a maximum of two papers, as author or co-author. A selected number of full papers will be published.
Working languages: English and Albanian
Dr. Idrit Idrizi: Postdoctoral fellow of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (Post-DocTrack-Pilotprogramme). Research areas: contemporary history of Albania, communism and post-communism studies, everyday life history and oral history.
Dr. Jonila Godole: Lecturer at the University of Tirana, Department of Journalism and Communication. Research areas: journalism cultures, media and memory studies. Director of the Institute for Democracy, Media and Culture, which is supported by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.
Sonila Danaj: PhD candidate at the Department of Social Sciences, University of Jyvaskyla/Researcher, European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research, Vienna, Austria.