The social organization of representations of history: the textual accomplishment of coming to terms with the past

2009-10-28T14:22:42Z (GMT) by Cristian Tileaga
This paper is concerned with the social organization of collective memory and representations of history in the context of how post-communist democracies reckon with former regimes. It specifically centres on the textual accomplishment of coming to terms with the past in the 'Tismăneanu Report' condemning Communism in Romania. The focus is on how the Report displays and shapes the ideological contours of coming to terms with the past around a particular 'social representation' of history. Several constitutive features of the Report that facilitate bringing off a particular 'representation of history' are identified: (a) the construction of a practical framework for the inquiry as a matter of public concern and attention; (b) the production of 'Communism' as an empirical category with uniquely bound features; and (c) the structuring of time by bringing together a political agenda and national identity. The present argument tries to place representations of history (and coming to terms with the past) as something in need of constitution rather than simply relied on. It is suggested that a conception of coming to terms with the past as a textual accomplishment may lead to a fuller appreciation of the structure, function and salience of representations of history as integral part of moral/political/legal courses of action.