Dealing with communism: life story as a mnemo-political genre in the post-1989 Baltics
(University of Tartu)
Paper short abstract:
This paper 1) points to the institutionalization of the life story as mnemo-political genre in the post-1989 Baltic states, and 2) analyses the post-1989 life story as an act of internalization and externalization of memory regimes.
Paper long abstract:
This paper is an attempt to synthesize the Baltic biographical research since the postcommunist turn from the point of view of memory studies by focusing on the role of life story telling in the process of social of remembering. A question is posed about the role of life story as both medium and agent of memory in the post-1989 Baltic context. In the Baltic context the often referred to biographical boom from the end of 1980s and beginning of 1990s highlighted the significance of autobiographical genres in a postsocialist society for their presumed ability to transmit the "true memory" of the past. Indeed, for some time the life story shared the same pedestal with historiography. Inspired by the theory of social becoming (Sztompka), the model of formats of memory (A.Assmann), and by the recent works on the mediation of memory (Erll, Rigney), this paper problematizes the role of the life story in post-1989 society. It 1) points to the institutionalization of the life story as mnemopolitical genre in the post-1989 Baltic states, and 2) based on concrete cases analyses the life story as an act of internalization and externalization of memory regimes. As a result it will be argued that the life story telling in a post-1989 context was aiming at gaining a common ground in cultural remembering by simultaneously contesting and stabilizing the dominant representations of the past.
Remembering and forgetting the communist past in post-communist Europe: politics, social practices and everyday life