Survival and Social-Professional Integration Strategies in Communist Political Prisoners’ Families in Central and Eastern Europe in the ’50s and ’60s


International Conference

Histories (Un)Spoken. Survival and Social-Professional Integration Strategies in Communist Political Prisoners’ Families in Central and Eastern Europe in the ’50s and ’60s

Râmnicu Sărat, Romania, 22nd – 25th of June 2016

The historiography that developed after 1989 on the topic of the Communist regime focused mainly on the suppressive nature of the system and on the direct victims of the regime from multiple points of view: archival documents, press materials, memoirs, oral history. Recently, studies on Communism extended to aspects of everyday life, demography, urbanization issues, economic issues or consequences of forced industrialization.

Within the framework of this conference we would like to deepen the perspective on the impact of the Stalinization period on the Eastern and Central European societies, by taking into consideration the following aspect: the issue of the direct victims of Gulag has been largely discussed, while the strong effects of the system on the victims’ families and their economic and social lives have been under-researched. Therefore, research on torn families and their social and economic isolation may open new prospects regarding the microhistory of the first two decades of communization. The importance of such a topic is backed up by figures: if the number of political prisoners is estimated at about 100,000 (in the Romanian case), the number of “collateral” victims may reach several hundreds of thousands, whereas the impact upon society has been reverberating throughout decades of history up to the present days.

Indirect victims of the communist suppressive policies, the families of those considered “enemies of the people”, had to surpass their traumas (of losing members of their families or being separated from them, of being excluded from society) and find ways to survive. What were their resources for survival and how did the people in question manage to identify them? What sort of social reinsertion strategies did they find, and how did they identify them in a moment in history when one of the main preoccupations of the regime was to shatter the previous social structure in order to recreate it by copying the soviet model? What were the social-professional environments in which they were allowed to activate? What was the destiny of those who could not develop reinsertion strategies? What are the medium and long term effects of belonging to a family of an “enemy of the regime”?

We welcome papers that address these questions and any other related to them, written from an interdisciplinary perspective and using innovative methodology, from the following fields of research: oral history, social history, family history, social anthropology, sociology, cultural studies, and labor studies.

Suggested topics:
– “collateral” victims of the suppressive systems in Central and Eastern Europe in the 1950s and 1960s;
– Professional survival in different fields of work in the first two decades of the Communist regime;
– Histories of the families of political prisoners;
– Effects of suppression on the families during the Communist regime and in post-communism;
– Transitional justice and families of the former political prisoners.

Please send your proposals by the 21st of December 2015 (the title and an abstract of maximum 200 words) at Authors of accepted proposals will be notified by the 15th of January 2016. Full papers are welcomed until the 1st of May 2016. Papers will be evaluated in a peer-review system. Authors of articles accepted for participation at the conference and for publication in a collective volume at an important publishing house will be notified by the 10th of May 2016.
Rules of citation and of text formatting will be announced after accepting the abstracts.
The conference languages are Romanian and English.
Accommodation and meals will be provided by the organizers, as well as the publication of the conference volume.
We look forward to your contributions. Please contact us for additional information, if needed.

Cosmin Budeancă PhD.
Director General, IICCMRE

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