The Eyes of Radio Free Europe: Regimes of Visibility in the Cold War Archives

In: East Central Europe
Ioana Macrea-Toma Central European University, Budapest

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This article investigates on the basis of letters to Radio Free Europe how the ersatz coupling of sensory data streams impacted the political imagination before and after 1989. While reconstructing the medial configuration of a clandestine information flow and reflecting on the micro-powers involved, the article follows the case through its own archival visibility, thus capturing the very tension between seeing and hiding. Going both “along the archival grain” to capture the epistemic anxieties of governance, and “against the archival grain” to retrieve from the hermetic tectonic of archival layers the story of a Cold War trickster, offers a better understanding of the epistemic limits of the Cold War archives and thus to map and transgress them.

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