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Title: Second-hand memories of the Communist era : the first postsocialist generation in Romania
Author: Hanu, Daniel
ISNI:       0000 0004 5922 2804
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis explores the ways in which memories of the communist era in Romania are transmitted to young people with no first-hand experience of those times. It looks at how youth actively contribute to the process of mnemonic socialization, where they are exposed to technologies of memory conveying both nostalgic and anticommunist, state-sponsored, discourses. It argues that in this context young people create their own emotionally imbued versions of the past, ‘second-hand memories’ (Keightley and Pickering, 2012) that result after lengthy and intricate processes of distillation. Another main argument of the thesis is that the past influences the present. Hence, young people live in societies where the effects of the communist era are still identifiable. Such traces can be found in the built environment, in the material culture, in the behaviour and practices of people or in the state of postsocialist Romanian society. Youth make use of second-hand memories in order to understand past, present and future. The fact that they inhabit milieux de mémoire (Nora, 1989) could be a reason for their interest in the communist era. By engaging with the recent past, young people also endeavour to explore their own identities, which have, in turn, been influenced by the times that preceded their birth. Literature on processes and politics of memory transmission and production focuses primarily on media of memory per se and on first-hand accounts of ‘eyewitnesses’. This thesis, whose findings are based on the thematic analysis of 59 in-depth interviews with Romanian young people born between 1986 and 1996, takes individuals as active producers of memories and unravels the ways in which social actors interact with vehicles of memory transmission and with discourses on the past. It thus represents an empirical exploration of how second-hand memories are created in a postsocialist context. By doing this, it contributes to the development of memory studies by extending the theoretical concepts of ‘second-hand memories’ and ‘mnemonic imagination’ (Keightley and Pickering, 2012), and by demonstrating the wider applicability of notions such as Pierre Nora’s (1989) ‘milieux de mémoire’, with its ensuing implications, or that of ‘embodied memory’.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: DR Balkan Peninsula ; HM Sociology