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Communism as ‘Heritage’, Heritage as ‘Nostalgia’: Teaching East European Communist Pasts in United Europe

The goal of the current project is to analyze the procedures related to the construction of communist ‘heritage’ in Eastern Europe, from the perspectives of the public debates surrounding its interpretation and valorization, and in the context of recent trends of teaching twentieth-century history in the European Union. Taking as a launching point the double-bound meanings of heritage as ‘legacy’ and ‘patrimony’ (that is, as ‘something given that has inevitably been received from the past,’ or as a ‘value that has to be transmitted to the future’), the project would explore the challenges in interpreting the artifacts of the communist period as ‘heritage’ and the ways in which these challenges are met in the different countries of Eastern Europe. Methodologically, the project will seek to juxtapose the fields of heritage studies and European studies and will utilize their potential in understanding the meanings of the communist pasts in present-day European context. Adhering to a wide comparative framework with different states of East Central and Southeastern Europe, the project will analyze diverse cases related to the construction of ‘heritage’ from the communist epoch and will reflect on the involvement of such cases in teaching materials of twentieth-century European history.

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