In the late 1990s and early 2000s, a wave of nostalgia for state socialism swept across the former Eastern Bloc, manifesting primarily in cinema and television, as well as in a fascination with the material culture of the period. But is it still meaningful to speak of nostalgia today, especially in the Czech Republic, where an early institutional condemnation of the communist past arguably produced a widespread anti-communist consensus? This talk will discuss, using the Czech example, the place of nostalgia amongst other narratives of dealing with the socialist past and ask: what, if anything, are the Czechs nostalgic for? Drawing on sources from literature, film, television, and material culture, the talk will demonstrate that apparent nostalgia and an anti-communist rejection of the past are not necessarily at odds with one another.
Veronika Pehe is a Ph.D. candidate in Cultural Studies at the University College London. Currently, she is a Jan Patočka Junior Visiting Fellow at the IWM.