"These lively essays make for the rare collection that is greater than the sum of its parts. Bookended by a substantive Foreword and Afterword, they upend the standard 'diagnosis of nostalgia' found across the former Soviet bloc, refuting the popular conception that Eastern Europeans are somehow haunted by the past, and illustrating the repertoire of contemporary post-socialist cultural politics at its most sophisticated." · Bruce Grant, New York University
Although the end of the Cold War was greeted with great enthusiasm by people in the East and the West, the ensuing social and especially economic changes did not always result in the hoped-for improvements in people's lives. This led to widespread disillusionment that can be observed today all across Eastern Europe. Not simply a longing for security, stability, and prosperity, this nostalgia is also a sense of loss regarding a specific form of sociability. Even some of those who opposed communism express a desire to invest their new lives with renewed meaning and dignity. Among the younger generation, it surfaces as a tentative yet growing curiosity about the recent past. In this volume scholars from multiple disciplines explore the various fascinating aspects of this nostalgic turn by analyzing the impact of generational clusters, the rural-urban divide, gender differences, and political orientation. They argue persuasively that this nostalgia should not be seen as a wish to restore the past, as it has otherwise been understood, but instead it should be recognized as part of a more complex healing process and an attempt to come to terms both with the communist era as well as the new inequalities of the post-communist era.
Maria Todorova is Professor of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her publications include Bones of Contention: The Living Archive of Vasil Levski and the Making of Bulgaria's National Hero (2006), Balkan Identities: Nation and Memory (2004), Imagining the Balkans (1997), Balkan Family Structure and the European Pattern: Demographic Developments in Ottoman Bulgaria (1993).
Zsuzsa Gille is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is the author of From the Cult of Waste to the Trash Heap of History: The Politics of Waste in Socialist and Post-Socialist Hungary (2007), and co-author of Global Ethnography: Forces, Connections and Imaginations in a Postmodern World (2000).