Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cultural Heritage and The House of the People in Bucharest


Recently I've been invited to present at the conference "Why does the Past Matter?," at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. My topic of debate is how the ethos of communism has been negotiated in Romania in the last 20 years, using the infamous House of the People/ Palace of Parliament in Bucharest as a trope. For artists, scholars and curators at home, the topic of this building is a never-ending cause for debate, and some argue that it cannot lead us anywhere - since it's a fait-accompli that the only National Museum for Contemporary Art ended up inside a dictator's palace under the guise of democratization. But I beg to differ, arguing for a continual examination of how this building is involved in the marking and re-making of Romanian identity.

Following is the original paper (first part or Framing the Debates) through which I will burn and slash to fit into a 20 minute presentation at Amherst.

Framing the debates

In her article “Negative Heritage and Past Mastering in Archaeology,” Lynn Meskel introduced the term “negative heritage,” designating a site of violence engendered as “a repository of negative memory in the collective imaginary.” Emphasizing its dual role as either mobilized for educational or cultural purposes or resisting incorporation into social consciousness and becoming erased, Meskel also acquiesces that: “While seemingly uncontroversial, "heritage" occupies a positive and culturally elevated position within many cultures, yet we should recognize that not all individuals, groups or nations share those views, or have the luxury of affluence to indulge these desires.” [1] Building on Meskel, I suggest moreover, that my case study troubles seemingly straightforward, positive notions of heritage, values which I believe should be developed - to include for example in my case, the ethos of communist legacy, which despite its imperfections, abuses and violence, did not just mark the lives of the peoples of Eastern Europe , but it represented their existence and culture for decades, albeit engendering traumatized identities. Communism as the utopia of the proletariat held sway over millions of people for over 70 years – and as my more experienced colleagues in the field have argued, it was put into practice and made operative by the people it purportedly oppressed. This paradox cannot be simply dismissed but should be engaged directly, as communist culture is oftentimes reduced to an irrational dichotomy between kitsch and a haunted house of horrors. [2]

An engaged line of examination into communist countries of the former East during the period between WW2 and 1990 has been penned by scholars writing from this region such as Vasile Ernu (Romania)[3] and Alexei Yurchak (Russia)[4] as well as outside its borders – Stephen Kotkin (US).[5] Although diverse in methodologies, these socio-cultural and political analyses bring into focus the necessity to take the ideology of socialism seriously, as did the people who lived through them – the social basis on which ideology is built and sustains at the same time. Starting with the 1930s, the Soviet Union constructed a viable modernity which it exported to various degrees onto Eastern Europe, mustering both local resistance and voluntary participation. My analysis is informed by this approach, deploying the concept of participatory dictatorship to engage the communist modernity defined in the architecture of Bucharest. Although the authors I have mentioned above focus on the Soviet Union experience, I take their conclusions as definitive for my case study, framed by the period between 1965 and 1989 – the Era of Nationalist Socialism in Romania. For the project of socialism was mutated in this case as a local paradigm of modernity- running parallel and in competition to the Soviet Union, with points of contrast and connection. As Yurchak and Kotkin have pointed out, it is necessary to ask how people living in these systems were constructed and constructed themselves as subjects of the state. While it is beyond the scope and means of this paper to answer this question, I will use it as a trope to distinguish between individual quotidian perception, collective remembering and official memory. These processes are a germinal form of self-representation in the post 1989 period in Romania - as means of negotiating agency in the still unfolding process of identity formation. Thus, I want to investigate how communist rhetoric in my case study (in verbal and building form) has crossed over in what scholars refer to as the post-socialist period in the East and what is at stake in recent attempts to exorcize this rhetoric.

Indeed, for Romanians (and Eastern Europeans), the task of comprehensively describing the economic, political, historical and cultural contradictions that pervade our existence is still an arduous one. One important reason is that, this region is commonly understood through the normative story of the collapse of communism in 1989 and the subsequent triumph of liberal democracy and the free market economy - culminating into Romania’s integration into NATO (2004) and the European Union (2007).[6] Using cultural heritage values applied to the paradoxical case of the House of the People in Bucharest, my paper will mitigate between the claims of the post-communist order in Romania and alternative definitions of social reality that go beyond that order.

Despite the objective logic implied in my introduction - to somehow summarize the views on the state, cultural processes and social consciousness in a country- I cannot avoid relating to the topic from a very personal point of view; I am myself involved in many of the stakes that comprise the cultural scene in Romania, endeavoring to fill gaps in critical discourse, and in working and production conditions. I therefore take my own subjectivity into account, as a cultural insider living and working in Romania and the United States, as a lens for working through events that are oftentimes presented from a constructed objectivity. By contrast, my analysis foregrounds the experience of communism and post-communism as historically bound and intensely personal.

The difficulties for most outsiders in understanding the specificity of Romania and generally Eastern Europe, lie in the complexity of their context. With its many layers of repressed histories, interrupted narratives and syncretic influences, this context does not assimilate into the linear progression of history and culture in most Western countries.[7] Added to this, there is a common perception of the Eastern countries as still uncivilized - according to mainly Western cultural criteria. The reasoning behind this backwardness is constructed around the theory of over 50 year oppression that these peoples have suffered under the influence of the Soviet Union or local autocratic regimes. The latter represents the case of Romania, whose initially popular president, Nicolae Ceaușescu (1965-1989),[8] first broke the country’s alignment with the Sovit Union and then imposed an increasingly ruthless dictatorship under the guise of communist ideals. [9] Related to this perception, East-European countries have developed an inferiority complex, dominating their self-image and placing them in a constant struggle to fit in with Western cannons, despite obvious divergences. This process is intimately linked to national identity and nationalist ideology, a recurring trend in a region at the intersection of Empires (Austrian, Hungarian, Ottoman, Russian etc.), threatening to engulf its culture. Thus, the complex of inferiority can be understood in different ways, somewhere between current nationalist right-wing aesthetic and political trends in Romania to the glossing perspective of Western liberal democracy - which risks overlooking context and becoming a form of oppression in itself. Furthermore, even though both Eastern and Western countries exist under the sign of a united Europe (or the project of the EU), this identity can have conflicting meanings, given the unresolved legacies of the communist period, which affectively[10] inform social identity in the East. Under a fusing strategy which involves leveling differences to built a more homogenous community according to EU standards, Romania remains relegated to backwardness. Unable and unsupported in achieving a viable post-modernity on its own terms, the country is still struggling to enact a liberal democracy, which has no pre-1989 traditions in this region[11].

The Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek goes further in arguing that the very concept of liberal democracy is based on implicit exclusion: “The split between democracy and non-democracy is the very form of universality of the liberal democracy: the liberal democratic “new world order” affirms its universal scope by way of imposing this split as the determining antagonism, the structuring principle[...] The very identity of the liberal-democratic “order” consists in the scissure which separates the inside from the outside.” [12] While I am not suggesting a global conspiracy of capitalist democracies against Eastern Europe, the fact remains that the pressure of Western standards over the past 20 years has resulted in Romania’s infantilization as a still-learning pupil of democracy . [13] This view is confirmed and exacerbated by still glaring economic differences between East and West.

Without abandoning the idea of a unified Europe, what I want to call into question are the methodologies of unification which collapse differences, as attempts to rationalize according to Western standards cultures of multiple origins like those of Eastern Europe deepen the split described by Zizek. Alternatively, the exchange with Western Europe should be transformed into a more bilateral process, while the European Union strategies for unification should be directed towards expanding the concept of being a European - as much as it is now focused towards imposing standards for belonging to this category. Given these frames, I am arguing for a more nuanced understanding of the complexity, fragmentation and contradictions of Romanian (and East-European) identity . I believe this comprehension can be achieved through cultural and civic models engaged with the politics of the present and extended to consequential alterations of the criteria for a unified Europe.

Part of a larger trend of cross-cultural encounters, the communist legacy in Eastern Europe, in the cultural, social, economical and political spheres, has recently emerged as a global concern . Almost two decades after the 1989 revolutions that ended the communist project, repressed traumatic symptoms, coupled with nostalgia, melancholy and confusion in the social sphere have become manifest in visual culture and public discourse. As I have emphasized, this moment coincides with the expansion of the European Union to the East, and the necessity of former Soviet satellites to adapt to a rampant consumer culture that commodfies the symbols of communist trauma.[14] Through my case-study, I will examine the negotiation of communist legacy in the language of Romanian architecture, in order to unfold the ideological history behind the building project that has come to symbolize the country in its capital city: the House of the People (now The Palace of Parliament) and the Boulevard of Socialist Victory (now The Boulevard of Unity) in Bucharest. First, I will trace the affect of communist ideology through its representations in architectural and the social fiber. My assumption is that the spatial and metonymical impact of this building project is actively involved in the process of negotiation with the traumatic past and the definition of a mêlée identity which seeks a dialogue with the West on even grounds.[15]

At its inception in the early 1980s, the building project was begun in an effort to establish the symbol of a new social order, its monumental presence in the capital’s center would serve to continually remind Romanians of their communal identity under the system and their subservience to the leader at the same time.[16] The building also became a symbol of the nation’s suffering under communism and the daily sacrifices people were in some cases forced to make to the regime and in others willingly adapted to . After 1989, a period of transition ensued in which the symbols of the past were renounced as the new leaders sought to legitimize a new order, while the House became the seat of the Romanian Parliament (the self-proclaimed democratic power in the country) in 1997 and then incorporated a Museum of Contemporary Art in 2004. However, I argue that the ideologies of communist project continued to influence this transition and ultimately transformed the building, ironically (or tragically), into a symbol of consumerism and signifier of Europeanism that nonetheless retained the affect of the pre-1989 period its structure.

Finally, from a heritage perspective, I suggest a cultural solution to the seemingly insurmountable binary between the abuses of communism and the hedonistic appeal of capitalism - by incorporating the House of the People into a frame for General Culture, open for examination, re-evaluation, a site for cultural memory. A tenor of the times, modern communist architecture in the Other Europe is in a state of uncertainty and self-deprecation – a mixture of national shame and pride, of conflicting and mythical narratives, a site of trauma[17]. Accepting the challenge and responsibility for political action in public space would, in my opinion, begin to restore a civic structure to Romanian society, in a state of confusion and degradation between the communist legacy and restructuring according to the free market economy. Instead of thinking in terms of forwards or backwards, I suggest changing the terms of the debate altogether, using the House of the People as an irreducible paradox to disrupt clear-cut, affirmative notions of cultural heritage and universality . My aim is two-fold: to criticize the limitations and consequences of the universal value criteria, inadequate when faced with cultural productions in liminal spaces that escape clear categorizations- spaces in-between the binaries.[18] Secondly, I want to imagine what a cultural examination of historicized trauma may resolve in social consciousness in Romania, inviting processes of remembrance, reconstruction and healing to absorb the site, the capital and the country as a whole.

Disillusionment and oppression: Nicolae Ceaușescu’s “Golden Era”

For over twenty years after World War II, and in accordance with the Yalta agreement, Romania remained under strict influence of the Soviet Union. The country became one of Joseph Stalin's puppet republics, its resources allocated to the Union, while its freedom of expression was stifled within a tight system implemented by a Soviet-Romanian Secret Police, which became inculcated into social consciousness. When Nicolae Ceausescu came to power after Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej[19] in 1965, the general feeling among the Romanian public was that of hope and expectation. A hope that the Soviet dominated nomenclature and intelligentsia would be removed from power, releasing the society from cultural, political and economic constrains it has been suffering. In the 20th century, two times in a row the country had been taken over, split geographically and socially – first by Nazi Germany and then by the Soviet Union - a trauma that was never given time to heal during the subsequent forty years. The moment Ceausescu declared that he would continue Gheorghiu-Dej’s disengagement with the political agenda of the Soviet Union,[20] establishing a “stronger Greater Romania,” he roused patriotic pride that ignited the masses of peasants, workers and intelligentsia alike . After the Soviet Union’s systematic attempts to stamp out national identity, paving the way for a smoother domination, Romania was enthusiastic to follow a leadership that redeemed national values, promising freedom and independence under the guidance of the Romanian Communist Party.

Thirty-five years later, the country would emerge crumbled, after the rule of Nicolae Ceausescu ended with his and his wife’s execution on Christmas morning 1989. What happened in between 1965 and 1989 was the escalation of Ceausescu’s inebriation with power, a gradual relapse into Stalinist practices of terror and control. Nonetheless, Romanians adapted to this neo-Stalinist model, sometimes through “hedging, ”[21] that is the ability to lead multiple lives – speaking in layered codes opaque to informers, and sometimes to friends and family, gesturing that what one said or did and what one meant were two very different things.

This unmentionable and unmentioned social schizophrenia existed at the same time with the official rhetoric, based on a controlled host of appropriate topics which excluded religion, poverty, sex, abortion, dissidents, prisons, forced labor, un-prescribed philosophy or political theory, etc. Under the guise of patriotism, the dictator established an ideological chain – Romania, The Party, Ceausescu – that equated disobedience with being an enemy of the nation. The Leader of the Party thus inflamed the masses, cultivating an identity of heroism and sacrifice :

Under the guidance of the Party, the proletariat was appointed with the grand mission to ensure the realization of the great aspirations of the people – freedom, independence, sovereignty. [22]

Indeed harsh legislation imposed shortages in all areas of public life: food, electricity, medical care became increasingly scarce, then agonizing towards the end of the 1980s. The Securiatate, the Romanian secret police, tightened the Nomenclature’s grip on the nation engendering a state of paranoia and fear that caused one in six Romanians to become informers. As bleak as this reality may seem, it was nonetheless the system in which over 20 million people willingly participated in, on various degrees.

Even when the utopia of socialism was exposed as a ruse to support something closer to the previously decried regimes, Romanians were complicit in maintaining the repression in place. Corruption, self-censorship, conformity and patriotic guilt were some of the focal parameters of Romanian reality. During the 1980s, the country resembled a ghetto that Ceausescu began decorating with his own vision of the perfect socialist state. From the outside Romania appeared to be a country on the path to recovery after the Soviet influence, an image fed to the West via the busy printing presses of the Communist newspaper, the Spark, which ran in English, French, German and Italian. [23] However, survivors of the time knew the harsh realities that led to impossible choices between immorality and survival, becoming an ally of the regime or facing starvation, imprisonment, and sometimes torture, being ostracized within the country that one was forbidden to leave. In visual culture, the most potent embodiment of these painful contradictions , Ceausescu’s self-proclaimed “Era of Light,” is the Palace and Boulevard he built in Bucharest.

The Palace was part of Ceausescu’s plan to reshape Bucharest after the monumental structures he had seen in North Korea and China on a trip in 1971, having witnessed the intense power these structures conveyed over the people, glorifying socialism and their ideological creators. It was also a response to the Soviet monumental projects, in particular the House of the Spark in Bucharest, modeled after the “Seven Sisters “ project in Moscow, the latter initiated by the Stalin leadership. The architecture of Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, and the command Kim II-Sung[24] held over his people were so compelling to Ceausescu and his wife that they visited the city on five different occasions: 1971, 1978, 1980, 1982 and 1985. [25] By contrast the Korean presidential couple only visited Bucharest in 1975 and 1980, and was not taken with the classical bourgeois city. But soon, the 19th century chic of the “Paris of Eastern Europe,” as Bucharest was popularly referred to by Europeans, would be replaced by something very different. As his Korean counterpart, Ceausescu’s politics included an ideology of nationalism and socialism reinforced with terror, politics which would be reflected in the colossal Palace he envisioned for himself.


[1] Lynn Meskell “Negative Heritage and Past Mastering in Archaeology”, Anthropological Quarterly, Vol. 75, No. 3, 2002: pg. 557–74.

[2] For a critique of the representations of communist culture as a new form of consumption in Europe see the film produced by Joanne Richardson and David Rych, Red Tours, Berlin, Transient Spaces, 2010, 49’.

[3] Vasile Ernu, Born in the USSR, (Bucharest: Polirom, 2006).

[4] Alexei Yurchak, Everything was forever, until it was no more: The last Soviet generation, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005).

[5] Stephen Kotkin, Magnetic Mountain: Stalinism as Civilization (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997).

[6] Romania joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on March 29, 2004 following the decision taken at the Prague Summit, in November 2002. On January 1st 2007, Romania (together with Bulgaria) joined the European Union (EU), having its original 1995 application for membership finally approved.

[7] The expression “interrupted histories” was introduced by Slovenian art historian Zdenka Badovinac in 2006. Badovinac curated an exhibition with the same name at Moderna Galerija in Ljubjliana, Slovenia. The exhibition presented works from Eastern European and Middle Eastern artists, representative of areas that have not been able to integrate fully the processes of modernity, for political and economic reasons. Interrupted Histories probed the implications of the absence of standardized historicization in regions on the margins of the Western World, while suggesting cultural models needed in the process of historicization.

[8] For a detailed description of the socio-political-economic and cultural aspects of Ceaușescu’s regime see Dennis Deletant,Romania Unider Communist Rule, (Oxford: The Center for Romanian Studies, 1999).

[9] Nicolae Ceaușescu (1918- 1989) joined the illegal Union of Communist Youth in 1933 and the Romanian Communist Party (RCP) in 1936. He was imprisoned for his political activities from 1936 to 1938 and from 1940 to 1944. After the Red Army entered Bucharest in 1944, he was made a secretary of the Central Committee of the Union of Communist Youth. In 1945 to 1948 and from 1952 to 1989 he was a member of the Central Committee of the RCP. From 1948 to 1950 he was Deputy Minister of Agriculture and from 1950 to 1954 he was Deputy Minister of the Armed Forces. He became a secretary of the Central Committee of the RCP in April 1954 and a member of the Politburo in 1955. From 1957 to 1965 he was effectively the second in command in Romania under Gheorghiu-Dej. When the latter died in 1965, Ceauşescu became General Secretary of the RCP. In 1967 he became head of state and in 1969 made himself President of the Defence Council and supreme commander of the armed forces. Ceauşescu followed a foreign policy partly independent of the Soviet Union. In 1968 Ceauşescu denounced the Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia. At the beginning of the 1970s he played an important part in the re-establishment of relations between the USA and China. Throughout the 1970s he strove to increase trade with the West. In domestic policy Ceaușescu put great emphasis on Romanian nationalism and repressed the large Hungarian minority in Transylvania. His rule was marked by nepotism and the cult of personality. Opposition was ruthlessly suppressed by the secret police, the Securitate. At the beginning of the 1980s Ceauşescu introduced an austerity program in order to pay off Romania's foreign debt. The great hardship which this caused was increased by his program of "systematization", the uprooting of traditional villages at the end of the decade. In December 1989 the city of Timişoara revolted when human rights protests were brutally suppressed. The unrest spread to Bucharest, where the Soviet Union backed a coup against Ceauşescu by elements of the RCP and the army. He fled the capital with his wife Elena on 22 December, but was captured. The couple were tried by a military tribunal and shot on 25 December 1989.

[10] For the relationship between affect and context see Charles Altieri, The Particulars of Rapture: An Aesthetic of the Affect(Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2003).

[11] Most of present-day Romania (consisting of the regions of Transylvania, Wallachia and Moldavia) was the Roman province of Dacia from about 100 to 271 C.E. Between the 3rd to the 12th century, migratory populations conquered the native Daco-Roman population. The Bulgarian Empire (8th–10th century) introduced Eastern Orthodox Christianity to the Romanians. In the 11th century, Transylvania was integrated into the Hungarian empire. By the 16th century, the principalities of Moldavia and Walachia had become annexes of the Ottoman Empire. In 1829, after the Russo-Turkish War, they became Russian protectorates. The Romanian Nation became a kingdom in 1881 after being internationally recognized at the Congress of Berlin. At the start of World War I, Romania joined the Allied side and in 1916 declared war on the Central Powers. The armistice of 1918 awarded Romania territories from Russia and the Austro-Hungarian Empire: Bessarabia, Transylvania, and Bukovina. Banat, a Hungarian area, was divided with Yugoslavia. King Carol II Hohenzollern was crowned in 1930 and imposed a royal dictatorship. In 1940, the country was reorganized around the Fascist Iron Guard, which became the nucleus of the new totalitarian party. In the same year the Soviet Union occupied Bessarabia and northern Bukovina. King Carol II dissolved the Parliament, granted the new prime minister, Ion Antonescu, full power and went into exile. Romania subsequently signed the Axis Pact and joined in Germany's attack on the Soviet Union, reoccupying Bessarabia. Following the invasion of Romania by the Red Army in 1944, King Michael led a coup that ousted the Antonescu government. Later that year, an armistice with the Soviet Union was signed in Moscow. A Communist-dominated government bloc won elections in 1946, King Michael abdicated on Dec. 30, 1947, and in 1955 Romania joined the Warsaw Treaty Organization and the United Nations. From 1967–1989, Nicolae Ceaușescu imposed a neo-Stalinist dictatorship, turning a moderately prosperous country into one at the brink of starvation. Allegedly to repay a $10 billion foreign debt in 1982, he pillaged the Romanian economy of everything that could be exported, leaving the country with desperate shortages of food, fuel, and other essentials. An army-supported coup d’état in December 1989 led to Ceaușescu 's overthrow, trial, and execution.

[12] Slavoj Žižek, Tarrying with the Negative: Kant, Hegel and the Critique of Ideology (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1993), Introduction.

[13] For a discussion on the crippling effects of similar designations applied to Eastern Europe in the post-communist transition (“children of democracy,” “education for democracy,” “democratic exams,” “growing and maturing democracy”) see Boris Burden, “Children of Postcommunism, Radical Philosophy, January/February 2010.

[14] See for example Marius Babias, ed., European Influenza (Venice: Romanian Pavillion, La Biennale de Venezia, 51. Espozitione Internazionale D’Arte, 2005).

[15] Eastern Europe is commonly described by the term hybrid, however, I argue that hybridization is a déjà-accompli term which fails to accurately describe the continuous process of cultural mixing in the region. Instead, I prefer the term “mêlée” - coined by the French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy, to describe the processual nature of cultural bricolage that leads to hybridization and heterogeneity in language, literature and culture. As Nancy argues “in a mêlée, there is opposition and encounter, there is what gathers itself and that which separates, that which makes contact and that which makes contract, that which concentrates and that which is spread out, that which identifies and that which alters.” Mêlée also presupposes that the entities involved are not pure in themselves, but also product of mixing- as a positive concept. See Jean-Luc Nancy, “In praise of the mêlée” in A finite thinking, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993): pg. 277-288.

[16] Bucharest had been moderately affected by Stalinist planning in 1965 when Ceaușescu came to power. Ceaușescu launched a transformation that lasted until his execution in December 1989. The first phase, 1965- 1980, altered the outskirts of Bucharest and surrounding villages, changing the administrative districts, enlarging certain boulevards, and intensifying apartment-block construction. During the second phase, 1980-1989, large areas of the center of Bucharest were razed to make way for monumental structures and routes, as well as the completion of the subway system. See also Darrick Danta, “ Ceaușescu ’s Bucharest,” Geographical Review, Vol 83, No. 2 (April 1993), pg. 170-182.

[17] For global perspective on trauma in commonly marginalized regions such as Eastern Europe, the Middle East or Latin America see eds. Bruce Lawrence and Aisha Karim, On Violence: A Reader, (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007).

[18] The anthropologist Victor Witter Turner coined the term “liminality” to describe a person, a group or a territory in-between existential places . See Victor Witter Turner, "Liminality and Communitas", in The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure(New Brunswick: Aldine Transaction Press, 2008).

[19] Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej (1901- 1965), was prime minister between 1952–1955 and president of Romania’s State Council between 1961–1965. Having become a revolutionary after World War I, Gheorghiu-Dej joined the then-outlawed Romanian Communist Party in 1930 and was sentenced to 12 years’ hard labour. Escaping prison in 1944, he had established himself as secretary general of the party by the time Romania changed sides and join the Allies against Germany. Between 1945 and 1965, Gheorghiu-Dej served as first secretary of the Communist Party while simultaneously holding key posts in government economic planning. Strictly adhering to the goals of socialization laid down by Moscow, he promoted the development of industry in Romania. In 1952, after purging the party of his rivals, Gheorghiu-Dej became prime minister. He adopted economic and foreign policies that served Romania’s national interests rather than those of international socialism. He resigned as prime minister in 1955 but assumed the position of president of the State Council in 1961. In the mid-1960s Gheorghiu-Dej also demonstrated Romania’s independence from Soviet domination by forming cordial relations with non-communist nations and with the People’s Republic of China, which had also become alienated from the Soviet Union. His foreign policy was accompanied by a relaxation of internal repression, but there was no democratization of political life.

[20] For the relationship between the Ceaușescu and Dej regimes see Johanna Granville, "Dej-a-Vu: Early Roots of Romania's Independence," East European Quarterly, Vol. 42, No. 4 (Winter 2008), pg. 365-404.

[21] See Kristine Stiles, "Shaved Heads and Marked Bodies: Representations From Cultures of Trauma" (1993), in Bruce Lawrence and Aisha Karim, eds., On Violence: An Anthology (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press 2007), pg. 522-538.

[22] Dinu Sararu, Architect and Builder of the Nation, (Bucharest: Meridiane, 2003), pg. 22.

[23] For a review of Romania in the 1980s see Mark Almond, Decline Without Fall: Romania Under Ceaușescu, (London: Alliance Publishers, 1988) and Dennis Deletant, Ceausesu and the Securitate (London: Hurst and Company, 1995).

[24] Kim II Sung(1912 –1994) was a Korean communist politician who led North Korea from its founding in 1948 until his death in 1994. He held the posts of Prime Minister from 1948 to 1972 and President from 1972 to his death. He was also the General Secretary of the Workers Party of Korea. During leadership of North Korea, he imposed an autocratic rule and established a pervasive cult of personality.

[25] For a discussion of the profound effect the Asian experiences had on Ceaușescu ’s politics see Katherine Verdery,National Ideology Under Socialism, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), pg 107.


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