‘Quest for a Suitable Past’: New Book from InASEA Members

Quest for a Suitable Past

Myths and Memory in Central and Eastern Europe

The book at the CEU web site.

Edited by Claudia-Florentina Dobre and Cristian Emilian Ghiţă

Claudia-Florentina Dobre is currently the Director of the Center for Memory and Identity Studies (CSMI) and an associate researcher at Regional Center of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences, University of Bucharest. She has published extensively on the memory of Romanian communism and political persecution; museums, monuments, and memorials; and on everyday life under communism.
Cristian Emilian Ghiţă has a PhD in classics and ancient history from the University of Exeter. He was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Bucharest. His interests include Hellenistic studies, Asia Minor, and ancient warfare. All of these are fortuitously combined in his current research project, “Military Traditions and Innovations in Hellenistic Asia Minor.”

The past may be approached from a variety of directions. A myth reunites people around certain values and projects and pushes them in one direction or another.

The present volume brings together a range of case studies of myth making and myth breaking in east Europe from the nineteenth century to the present day. In particular, it focuses on the complex process through which memories are transformed into myths. This problematic interplay between memory and myth-making is analyzed in conjunction with the role of myths in the political and social life of the region.

The essays include cases of forging myths about national pre-history, about the endorsement of nation building by means of historiography, and above all, about communist and post-communist mythologies. The studies shed new light on the creation of local and national identities, as well as the legitimization of ideologies through myth-making. Together, the contributions show that myths were often instrumental in the vast projects of social and political mobilization during a period which has witnessed, among others, two world wars and the harsh oppression of the communist regimes.

164 pages, 2017
978-963-386-136-3 cloth
$50.00 / €44.00 / £34.00


Lucian Boia
Claudia-Florentina Dobre
An Obscure Object of Desire: The Myth of Alba Iulia and its Social Functions, 1918–1940
Gábor Egry
Croatia between the Myths of the Nation-State and of the Common European Past
Neven Budak
Deconstructing the Myth of the “Wicked German” in Northern and Western Parts of Poland: Local Approaches to Cultural Heritage
Izabela Skórzyńska and Anna Wachowiak
Mythologizing the Biographies of Romanian Underground Communists: The Case Study of Miron Constantinescu
Ştefan Bosomitu
Women in the Communist Party: Debunking a (Post-)Communist Mythology
Luciana-Marioara Jinga
Avatars of the Social Imaginary: Myths about Romanian Communism after 1989
Claudia-Florentina Dobre
Post-Communist Politics of Memory and the New Regime of Historiography: Recent Controversies on the Memory of the “Forty-Five Years of the Communist Yoke” and the “Myth of Batak”
Liliana Deyanova
The Phenomenon of “Parahistory” in Post-Communist Bulgaria: Old Theories and New Myths on Proto-Bulgarians
Alexander Nikolov