In This Issue


Cluster: Nationalism, (Anti-)Communism, and Violence in the European Cold War



Sabine Rutar 


In her introduction to the themed cluster “Nationalism, (Anti-)Communism and Violence in the European Cold War,” the author contextualizes the issue’s research contributions on Greece, Czechoslovakia, and Bulgaria. She introduces the methodological rationale and highlights what binds the three case studies together: They explore how nationalism was woven into Cold War societies. The authors employ, as analytical prisms, both physical and symbolic violence in order to visualize empirically the workings of nationalism in the service of both communism and anti-communism. Hitherto, few scholars have focused on the interconnections between nationalism, (anti-)communism, and violence in Cold War east central and southeastern Europe.


Paramilitarism, Social Transformation, and the Nation in Greece during the Civil War and Its Aftermath (1940s–50s)

Spyros Tsoutsoumpis


This article explores the association between paramilitarism and nation-building in civil war Greece. Existing studies saw paramilitaries from a purely military perspective and focused on their combat activities. The article shifts the attention to their social and political activities and discusses the transformation of social actors, structures, norms, and practices at the local level as spurred on by political mobilization and paramilitary violence. More specifically, the author focuses on three processes: political mobilization, the militarization of local authority, and the fragmentation of local political economies. He explores the legacies of these changes on the dynamics of state and institution building between the years of occupation during World War II, the Civil War, and the reconstruction years. This approach problematizes divisions between legal (state-sanctioned) and illegal (private) violence in the making of the postwar state and sheds new light onto continuities across the divide of World War II and the Cold War.


Making Sense of the Violent Past: War Veterans’ Organizations in Post-Stalinist Czechoslovakia

Natali Stegmann


The article examines the de-Stalinization of war veterans’ organizations in Czechoslovakia. Building on testimonies and journalistic works concerning the victims of Stalinist purges and persecution and the attempts to rehabilitate them, the author elaborates her argument with the case study of the prominent war victims’ organization “Association of Antifascist Fighters”. During Stalinism, all veterans who had not fought side by side with the Soviet Union were treated with suspicion and often expelled from the veterans’ association. In the framework of the reform socialist experiment of the 1960s, the country’s Stalinist heritage of violence was largely rejected. What made the Czechoslovak reform socialist approach unique was its distancing from the Soviet influence on Czechoslovak communist tradition. In this way, Stalinism, and the violence that accompanied it, was turned into a Soviet matter, while the national communist tradition was to be cured of the effects of this influence.


Symbolic Time(s) of Violence in Late Socialist Bulgaria

Nadege Ragaru 


By introducing Bourdieu’s notion of symbolic violence, the author explores the state uses of the cinematic industry—notably through the making of grandiose national epics—in the endeavor to model and, ultimately, to assimilate Muslim minorities during the so-called “Revival Process” (1984–1989) in socialist Bulgaria. Drawing attention to often-neglected aspects of film production, such as the selection of symbolically charged “national landscapes,” shooting locations, and the use of Muslim film extras, she examines the production of a state-sponsored historical master narrative, its widespread dissemination at home and abroad, and the attempt at channeling film reception by national minorities and the majority population. The visual recreation of the alleged Ottoman “forced islamization” of Christians and the blurring of the distinction between fiction and fact, as well as past and present were intended to boost the national pride of the majority, achieve support for anti-minority measures, and win the obedience of minorities.



Pozharskii’s Grave and the Search for the Russian Nation in the Nineteenth Century

Susan Smith-Peter


Prince D.M. Pozharskii, who together with Kuz΄ma Minin helped to end the Time of Troubles in 1612-13, has been the focus of commemoration for centuries and has come to symbolize the defense of the Russian nation. This article focuses on three moments of his commemoration in the nineteenth century: the classical Pozharskii, as seen in the monument on Red Square, the nationalist Pozharskii, which reimagined him almost as a saint of the nation, and the regionalist Pozharskii, which presented him as a heroic forerunner of the zemstvo and the self-directed action of the Russian people. Using a wide variety of sources, the article shows how Pozharskii’s grave and its commemoration were the focus of contention over what the Russian nation was and ought to be: composed of loyal and unquestioning subjects of the tsars, saint-like warriors, or a people that was self-governing at the local level. It also argues for the importance of including local narratives and sources in the historical narrative, as this was where the demand for self-government was most clearly made. Dead bodies can spark lively discussions, and when the body is Pozharskii’s, the stakes can be as high as the meaning of the Russian nation itself.


What Caused the Fall of Nikolai A. Voznesenskii? The Gosplan Affair, the Leningrad Affair and Political Infighting in Stalin’s Inner Circle, 1949-1950

David Brandenberger and Nikita Iur’evich Pivovarov


The 1949–1952 Gosplan Affair is rarely mentioned in the literature on late Stalinism, insofar as this purge of Politburo member Nikolai A. Voznesenskii and his clients at the USSR Council of Ministers Economic Planning Committee (Gosplan) is usually conflated with the coterminous Leningrad Affair. According to most scholars, Voznesenskii played a role in Andrei A. Zhdanov’s Leningrad patron-client network, which was purged after the death of its leader in 1948 on Stalin’s orders. This article revisits the Gosplan Affair and the campaign against Voznesenskii on the basis of an array of newly declassified archival sources. It demonstrates much of Voznesenskii’s spectacular fall to have been separate and distinct from the Leningrad Affair, and to have stemmed from rivalries within Stalin’s inner circle rather than at the general secretary’s behest. It also provides an unprecedentedly close perspective on postwar political infighting in the party leadership at the end of Stalin’s reign and the beginning of the Cold War.


Giving Back the Gift: Predicaments of Patronage and an Offering from Włodzimierz Borowski

Eliza Rose  


At a 1966 Symposium hosted by a nitrogen plant in socialist Poland, artist Włodzimierz Borowski staged a performance. He declared the plant’s urea furnaces to be works of art and returned them to plant management. With this “gift,” he reversed the Symposium’s patronage model, which had put the plant’s resources at his disposal: he gave back the gift of patronage. This article uses the device of returning the gift of state support to explore ambivalent engagements with the official art system. This formula is applied to two later actions giving back (or away) resources granted to artists by public patrons. The discussed artists—Borowski, Zofia Kulik and Łukasz Surowiec—use this device to contend with their complicity as beneficiaries of compromised funding arrangements. However, the article assesses their counter-gifts not as dissident acts against repressive regimes but as constructive efforts to arbitrate with authorities and gain purchase as working artists.


In the Land of Giants: Eco-Mythology and Islamic Authority in the Post-Soviet Tatar Imagination

Agnes Kefeli


At the turn of the twenty-first century, giants occupied the imagination of occultists, neopagans, and nationalist writers. This article explores why those mythical colossi, a product of the pre-modern imagination, folklore, and childhood fantasy are still relevant to modern Tatars. More specifically, it centers on Fäüziyä Bäyrämova, whose fiction stands prominently in environmental public-school curricula. This inquiry provides a literary genealogy of Tatar eco-mythology, while nuancing the previous assumption in literary studies that in its evolution, the gigantic has moved away from enchantment to secularization. Unlike medieval Anglo-Saxon giants who embodied the sins of humanity or represented the uncivilized “other,” Soviet giants were builders and guardians of Tatars’ Islamic sacred geography, threatened by urbanization and secularization. In Bäyrämova’s reinterpretation, they reappear not only as guardians of a nationalist cartography, but also as transmitters of Islamic reform and orthopraxy. In both Soviet and post-Soviet contexts, giants emerge as conduits of religious authority.


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