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Coming to Terms with Traumatic Pasts in Democratic Societies

Edited by Vladimir Tismaneanu and Bogdan C.Iacob

Vladimir Tismaneanu, Professor of Politics, Department of  Government and Politics, University of Maryland (College Park)

Bogdan C. Iacob, Research Fellow, New Europe College (Bucharest)

The twentieth century has left behind a painful and complicated legacy of massive trauma, monstrous crimes, radical social engineering, or collective/individual guilt syndromes that were often the premises for and the specters haunting the process of democratization in the various societies that emerged out of these profoundly de-structuring contexts.

The present collection of essays is a state of the art reassessment and analysis of how the interplay between memory, history, and justice generates insight that is multifariously relevant for comprehending the present and future of democracy without becoming limited to a Europe-centric framework of understanding. The volume is structured on three complementary and interconnected trajectories: the public use of history, politics of memory, and transitional justice.

2015 516 pages
ISBN 978-963-386-092-2 cloth, $70.00 / €61.00 / £47.00
ISBN 978-963-386-101-1 paperback, $45.00 / €39.00 / £30.00

"The conceptualisation of the volume allows the drawing of parallels between post-war Germany and a variety of countries with a non-democratic past or an authoritarian present, such as Cuba. The model of working through the past is a key theme here: based on its experience with both its Nazi and communist pasts, Germany represents an ‘imperfect but incredibly important model for reckoning with the demons of the twentieth century’.
The edited volume brings together prominent scholars of history, political science, international relations, conflict resolution and transitional justice studies.
Because of the high number of interdisciplinary contributions covering a very wide geographical scope, this edited volume represents a set of case studies that are a valuable source for those interested in the ways the societies facing transition address their recent pasts." - Europe-Asia Studies

"This title hints at the focus that is not on individuals coping with trauma but on collective memory at a political or juridical level. The editors, the political scientist Vladimir Tismaneanu and the historian Bogdan C. Iacob, reflect the interesting interdisciplinary character of the volume.
The volume has an impressive thematic and methodological variety and a strong interdisciplinary character. It is refreshing that many authors not only write from an academic point of view but also integrate their own experiences—for instance, in truth and reconciliation commissions—in their contributions." - Südosteuropa

Table of Contents

Part One: Vladimir Tismaneanu and Bogdan C. Iacob, Introduction
Timothy Snyder, European Mass Killing and European Commemoration

Part Two : Politics of Memory and Constructing Democracy

Daniel Chirot, Why World War II Memories Remain So Troubled in Europe and East Asia
Eusebio Mujal-Leon & Eric Langenbacher, Post-Authoritarian Memories in Europe and Latin America
Jeffrey Herf, Divided Memory Revisited: The Nazi Past in West Germany and in Postwar Palestine
Alexandru Gussi, On the Relationship Between Politics of Memory and the State's Rapport with the Communist Past

Part Three : Histories and their Publics

Vladimir Tismaneanu, Democracy, Memory, and Moral Justice
David Brandenberger, Promotion of a Usable Past: Official Efforts to Rewrite Russo- Soviet History, 2000-2013
Jan-Werner Müller, Germany’s Two Processes of ‘Coming to Terms with the Past’ – Failures, After All?

Part Four : Searching for Closure in Democratizing Societies

Andrzej Paczkowski, Twenty Five Years ‘After’ – The Ambivalence of Settling Accounts with Communism. The Polish Case
Raluca Grosescu & Raluca Ursachi, The Romanian Revolution in Court: What Narratives about 1989?
Vladimir Petrović, Slobodan Milošević in the Hague. Failed Success of a Historical Trial
Charles Villa-Vicencio The South Africa Transition: Then and Now
Cristian Vasile, Scholarship and Public Memory: The Presidential Commission for the Analysis of the Communist Dictatorship in Romania (PCACDR)
Igor Casu, Moldova under the Soviet Communist Regime: History and Memory

Part Five : Competing Narratives of Troubled Pasts

John Connelly, Coming to Terms with Catholic-Jewish Relations in the Polish Catholic Church
Leonidas Donskis, After Communism: Identity and Morality in the Baltic Countries
Bogdan C. Iacob, The Romanian Communist Past and the Entrapment of Polemics
Nikolai Vukov, Past Intransient / Transiting Past: Remembering the Victims and the Representation of Communist Past in Bulgaria