Politics without a Past: The Absence of History in Postcommunist Nationalism

Duke University Press
Free sample

In Politics without a Past Shari J. Cohen offers a powerful challenge to
common characterizations of postcommunist politics as either a resurgence of
aggressive nationalism or an evolution toward Western-style democracy. Cohen
draws upon extensive field research to paint a picture of postcommunist
political life in which ideological labels are meaningless and exchangeable
at will, political parties appear and disappear regularly, and citizens
remain unengaged in the political process.
In contrast to the conventional wisdom, which locates the roots of widespread intranational strife in deeply rooted national identities from the past, Cohen argues that a profound ideological vacuum has fueled destructive tension throughout postcommunist Europe and the former Soviet Union. She uses Slovakia as a case study to reveal that communist regimes bequeathed an insidious form of historical amnesia to the majority of the political elite and the societies they govern. Slovakia was particularly vulnerable to communist intervention since its precommunist national consciousness was so weak and its only period of statehood prior to 1993 was as a Nazi puppet-state. To demonstrate her argument, Cohen focuses on Slovakia’s failure to forge a collective memory of the World War II experience. She shows how communist socialization prevented Slovaks from tying their individual family stories—of the Jewish deportations, of the anti-Nazi resistance, or of serving in the wartime government—to a larger historical narrative shared with others, leaving them bereft of historical or moral bearings.
Politics without a Past develops an analytical framework that will be important for future research in Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, and beyond. Scholars in political science, history, East European and post-Soviet studies will find Cohen’s methodology and conclusions enlightening. For policymakers, diplomats, and journalists who deal with the region, she offers valuable insights into the elusive nature of postcommunist societies.

Read more
Collapse

About the author

Shari J. Cohen, a political scientist, is currently Senior Research Fellow at the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership in New York City.

Read more
Collapse
Loading...

Additional Information

Publisher
Duke University Press
Read more
Collapse
Published on
Nov 22, 1999
Read more
Collapse
Pages
296
Read more
Collapse
ISBN
9780822390671
Read more
Collapse
Read more
Collapse
Read more
Collapse
Language
English
Read more
Collapse
Genres
History / Europe / Eastern
Political Science / History & Theory
Political Science / Political Ideologies / Communism, Post-Communism & Socialism
Read more
Collapse
Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
Read more
Collapse
Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
Read more
Collapse
Eligible for Family Library

Reading information

Smartphones and Tablets

Install the Google Play Books app for Android and iPad/iPhone. It syncs automatically with your account and allows you to read online or offline wherever you are.

Laptops and Computers

You can read books purchased on Google Play using your computer's web browser.

eReaders and other devices

To read on e-ink devices like the Sony eReader or Barnes & Noble Nook, you'll need to download a file and transfer it to your device. Please follow the detailed Help center instructions to transfer the files to supported eReaders.
©2019 GoogleSite Terms of ServicePrivacyDevelopersArtistsAbout Google|Location: United StatesLanguage: English (United States)
By purchasing this item, you are transacting with Google Payments and agreeing to the Google Payments Terms of Service and Privacy Notice.