The Czechoslovak Communist Regime and Crimes against Humanity: Contemporary Judicial Issues in Handling the Past
The hypothesis guiding Muriel Blaive’s research is that an almost complete absence of epistemological reflection about the communist past in Czech public and academic spheres has led to a political instrumentalization of history: commemoration has tended to replace work on memory, activism has tended to replace research, and politics have tended to replace history. This mixture of genres has not only compromised academic approaches to recent history, but also prevented society from reaching an agreement on the past in the Czech Republic - as in most other post-communist countries. Public history appears to have primarily geared itself towards achieving a status of victimhood and thus of normative equality with Western countries perceived as being infused with the memory of the Holocaust.
Muriel Blaive, Ph.D., is a socio-political historian of postwar, communist, and post-communist Central Europe, in particular of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic, with a specialization in oral history and everyday life history. She graduated from the Institut d’études politiques in Paris with a research thesis on Vaclav Havel’s ethics and politics (supervised by Prof. Jacques Rupnik) and defended her Ph.D. in history (summa cum laude) at EHESS in Paris under the supervision of Prof. Krzysztof Pomian. She was Advisor to the Director for Research and Methodology at the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes (2014–18) after being one of two Institute Coordinators of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for European History and Public Spheres in Vienna (2012–13.)
“The Czech Museum of Communism: What National Narrative for the Past?,” in: Stephen Norris (ed.), Museums of Communism: New Memory Sites in Central and Eastern Europe, Indiana University Press, forthcoming, 2020; (ed.), Perceptions of Society in Communist Europe: Regime Archives and Popular Opinion, London 2018; “‘The Cold War? I Have It at Home with My Family’: Memories of the 1948–1989 Period beyond the Iron Curtain,” in: Konrad H. Jarausch, Christian Ostermann, Andreas Etges (eds.), The Cold War: Historiography, Memory, Representation, Berlin 2017, p. 203–23.
Despite public demand, the political repression exerted under communism has gone largely unpunished. How is this possible? This lecture examines the historical, legal, and political context that led to this dissatisfying situation, as well as possible remedies.