Humor and Memory

Romania’s Strategy of Coming to Terms with the Past

In: East Central Europe
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  • 1 1Austrian Academy of Sciences; Comenius University Bratislava Carola.Heinrich@assoc.oeaw.ac.at; Carola.Heinrich@uniba.sk

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With the Revolution in December 1989, Romania not only rejected the communist system but also Soviet authority and orientated itself towards the West. This paper explores what is remembered of Russia and the Soviet Union after 1989 and how Romanian dramas and films represent these memories. The paper studies three examples of staging “the Russian”: the radio theatre presentation of Petru by Vlad Zografi, the theatre piece Istoria comunismului povestită pentru bolnavii mintal by Matei Vişniec, and the movie Nunta mută by Horaţiu Mălăele. Memory is understood here as a process of cultural translation and the analysis aims to track the particularities of these representations that contribute to the negotiation of collective memory. The analyzed works seem to reinforce prevalent stereotypes, but these are inverted through comic devices. Humor is therefore identified as one of the main strategies for dealing with a violent past.

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