The Special Issue on “Justice, Memory and Transnational Networks. European and South American Entanglements” is now out in Global Society. Introduction by Raluca Grosescu, Sophie Baby and Laure Neumayer and contributions by Gruia Badescu, Daniel Kressel, Caroline Moine, Tobias Rupprecht, David Copello, Emilio Krezel and Raluca Grosescu.
In 2016, over 25 years after the fall of the communist regime, the Romanian Supreme Court of Justice convicted for the first time two former military officials for political crimes perpetrated in the 1950s, the harshest repressive period of the previous dictatorship. The verdicts marked a radical break with the prior legal approaches to prosecuting communist crimes in this country inasmuch as international criminal law (ICL) was now employed in order to overcome impunity. This article shows how the current shifts in Romanian jurisprudence have been built upon, and have drawn inspiration from, a recent global convergence towards the use of ICL for addressing the crimes of dictatorial regimes and the obstacles to their prosecution, such as amnesties or statutory limitations. It emphasizes the importance of noncoercive exogenous influences in enabling changes in the Romanian process of dealing with the past.
The European Parliament (EP) adopted, between 2004 and 2009, a series of resolutions calling for recognition of Communist crimes and commemoration of their victims. This article focuses on an overlooked aspect of anti-Communist activism, the awareness-raising activities carried out by some Central European Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to perpetuate the cause through networks that enable them to exchange institutional credibility, scientific legitimacy, and policy-oriented knowledge with Institutes of National Memory, parts of academia, and victims associations. Although they use the techniques of expertise and scandalization that are often effective in European institutions, these memory entrepreneurs have largely failed to further their claims in the European Union (EU) after 2009. In line with the turn toward “practice” in EU studies and the increased attention paid to agency in memory politics, this article contends that the conditions of production of their narrative of indictment of Communism accounts for this relative lack of success. Because their demands produced a strong polarization inside the EP while colliding with established Western patterns of remembrance, these MEPs’ reach remains limited to their Conservative peers from the former Eastern bloc. This weak national and ideological representativeness hinders their capacity to impose their vision of the socialist period in the European political space.
This article argues that the memory of Communism emerged in Europe not due to the public recognition of pre-given historical experiences of peoples previously under Communist regimes, but to the particularities of the post-Cold War transnational political context. As a reaction to the uniqueness claim of the Holocaust in the power field structured by the European enlargement process, Communism memory was reclaimed according to the European normative and value system prescribed by the memory of the Holocaust. Since in the political context of European enlargement refusing to cultivate the memory of the Holocaust was highly illegitimate, the memory of Communism was born as the “twin brother” of Holocaust memory. The Europeanized memory of Communism produced a legitimate differentia specifica of the newcomers in relation to old member states. It has been publicly reclaimed as an Eastern European experience in relation to universal Holocaust memory perceived as Western. By the analysis of memorial museums of Communism, the article provides a transnational, historical, and sociological account on Communism memory. It argues that the main elements of the discursive repertoire applied in post-accession political debates about the definition of Europe were elaborated before 2004 in a pan-European way.
Focusing on Europe and Latin America, this conference aims to take stock of this transnational turn in justice and memory studies and to develop a socio-historical analysis of the circulation of norms, repertoires of collective action and models adopted to deal with the legacies of authoritarian regimes and armed conflicts. It seeks to trace the interconnections and mutual influences of these processes both within Europe and Latin America and between the two regions, as well as the mobilizations of European and Latin American actors in international institutions, global NGOs, or at venues on other continents.
This two-year AHRC (Care for the Future) – LABEX joint funded project analyses the criminalisation of dictatorial pasts in Europe and Latin America since 1945. It considers how justice and historical narratives are produced across multiple professions, networks and spaces in two regions which have been key actors in the delineation and refinement of tools designed to address non-democratic pasts since 1945. It particularly analyses the way ideas and practices of dealing with the past have traveled across and between regions, and on a global scale.
The project is run by the University of Exeter and the Institut des Sciences Sociales du Politique de Paris (CNRS) and is coordinated by Professor James Mark (Exeter), Frederic Zalewski (ISP), Raluca Grosescu (Exeter) and Laure Neumayer (La Sorbonne).