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Samizdat, Tamizdat, and Beyond

Samizdat, Tamizdat, and Beyond: Transnational Media During and After Socialism

Friederike Kind-Kovács
Jessie Labov
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 378
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  • Book Info
    Samizdat, Tamizdat, and Beyond
    Book Description:

    In many ways what is identified today as "cultural globalization" in Eastern Europe has its roots in the Cold War phenomena ofsamizdat("do-it-yourself" underground publishing) andtamizdat(publishing abroad). This volume offers a new understanding of how information flowed between East and West during the Cold War, as well as the much broader circulation of cultural products instigated and sustained by these practices. By expanding the definitions ofsamizdatandtamizdatfrom explicitly political, print publications to include other forms and genres, this volume investigates the wider cultural sphere of alternative and semi-official texts, broadcast media, reproductions of visual art and music, and, in the post-1989 period, new media. The underground circulation of uncensored texts in the Cold War era serves as a useful foundation for comparison when looking at current examples of censorship, independent media and the use of new media in countries like China, Iran, and the former Yugoslavia.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-586-4
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Thomas Lindenberger

    Does Europe have—orisit—a public sphere of its own? In the times of the endless euro crisis this question seems to become more and more of a purely academic nature. Financial entanglements force Europeans to discuss shared sinterests and values among themselves to a degree and with an intensity unthinkable only some years ago. At the same time a new bifurcated structure of the continent is taking shape: it’s no longer East vs. West, it is rather a North-South partition that is demarcating zones of stability and sustainable prosperity from those of chronic underemployment, economic stagnation, and...

  6. Introduction Samizdat and Tamizdat Entangled Phenomena?
    (pp. 1-24)
    Friederike Kind-Kovács and Jessie Labov

    When we try to characterize the post-Soviet societies that emerged in Central and Eastern Europe after 1989, we often remark on the free flow of people, goods, information, and ideas across borders that were formerly closed. In fact, our current attempts to define the time we live in as one of global, open access have only strengthened the image of Cold War–era Eastern Europe as a collection of isolated and closed societies. This volume attempts to provide a very different picture of pre-1989 Eastern Europe, marking the pathways and networks along which information and ideas did across borders that...

  7. Section I: Producing and Circulating Samizdat/Tamizdat Before 1989

    • Chapter 1 Ardis Facsimile and Reprint Editions: Giving Back Russian Literature
      (pp. 27-50)
      Ann Komaromi

      Recent approaches to samizdat and tamizdat have challenged accustomed Cold War narratives and an exclusive focus on socially or politically themed content.² We can alternatively define samizdat and tamizdat materially, i.e., on the basis of their production and circulation outside of official Soviet print institutions. Working with such a definition, we find that texts presented as apolitical literature comprise an important part of the body of texts we may consider to be samizdat/tamizdat.³ We may of course interpret aspects of such purportedly apolitical texts in terms of their political significance, but we will seek to do so in terms other...

    • Chapter 2 The Baltic Connection: Transnational Samizdat Networks between Émigrés in Sweden and the Democratic Opposition in Poland
      (pp. 51-69)
      Lars Fredrik Stöcker

      Toward the end of the 1960s, Cold War Europe entered a phase of transition that revolutionized the premises of postwar international politics. After years of confrontation between Moscow and Washington, which had brought the world to the brink of a nuclear conflict, coexistence and cooperation across the Iron Curtain became the catchphrases that determined the foreign policy of the superpowers and their allies. Consequently, the period that followed the peak of the Cold War conflict of the early 1960s has been designated as the “long peace”¹ of the postwar era, characterized by the joint ambition of both camps to consolidate...

    • Chapter 3 Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty as the “Echo Chamber” of Tamizdat
      (pp. 70-91)
      Friederike Kind-Kovács

      The Cold War image of a “divided world, divided sky”¹ is slowly but consistently fading in contemporary history research. It is indeed true that from the perspective of the ideological incompatibility of the two world powers during the Cold War, the idea of a “dichotomy of the northern hemisphere”² and its representation in the sphere of audiovisual media holds. At the same time, and this is the line of argumentation of the present chapter, radio during the Cold War equally provided an influential link between the two—ideologically separated—worlds. The dissatisfaction with the irreversible seeming disconnectedness of Europe and...

    • Chapter 4 Contact Beyond Borders and Historical Problems: Kultura, Russian Emigration, and the Polish Opposition
      (pp. 92-104)
      Karolina Zioło-Pużuk

      Kulturawas the most important Polish émigré journal, which influenced not only Polish émigré circles, but also most significantly, Polish opposition activists. From its establishment in 1946 until its last issue published in 2000, Kultura shaped the most vital aspects of Polish political thought, particularly the relations between Poland and its Eastern neighbors Ukraine and Russia. Therefore, current relations between East-Central European nations and Poland—i.e., the Polish support for the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004 and 2005 and democratic movements in Belarus—can be seen as the outcome of a dialogue Jerzy Giedroyc, the editor ofKultura,started...

  8. Section II: Diffusing Nonconformist Ideas Through Samizdat/Tamizdat Before 1989

    • Chapter 5 “Free Conversations in an Occupied Country”: Cultural Transfer, Social Networking, and Political Dissent in Romanian Tamizdat
      (pp. 107-136)
      Cristina Petrescu

      According to the logic of the Cold War, samizdat and tamizdat texts represented the main sources for the study of political dissent. One could even measure the intensity of criticism against the communist regime in a given country by measuring the quantity and quality of such publications. In Romania, the subject of this chapter, samizdat hardly existed (except for the work of some Hungarians living in Transylvania), while tamizdat (also fairly rare) consisted mostly of texts produced by diasporas and, to a much lesser degree, of writings from within the country. Such conditions immediately suggest that Romanian dissent must have...

    • Chapter 6 The Danger of Over-Interpreting Dissident Writing in the West: Communist Terror in Czechoslovakia, 1948–1968
      (pp. 137-155)
      Muriel Blaive

      This volume takes as its premise that “the parallel phenomena of samizdat and tamizdat, as well as the much broader circulation of cultural products that was instigated and sustained by these practices, in many ways anticipates what we identify as ‘cultural globalization’ in Eastern Europe today.”¹ Such a novel approach is crucial when discussing the circulation of ideas between the former Eastern and Western blocs. The suggestion that contacts and exchanges did exist between East and West in a mutually influential way, though their importance has been largely underestimated, contributes to a wider and fruitful reevaluation of the Cold War...

    • Chapter 7 Renaissance or Reconstruction? Intellectual Transfer of Civil Society Discourses Between Eastern and Western Europe
      (pp. 156-172)
      Agnes Arndt

      In recent years, few concepts have attracted as much attention as the termcivil society.Rediscovered in Polish and other East European dissident circles in the course of the 1970s and 1980s, it has become part and parcel of the academic and political discourse in Europe. At the same time, the reasons why this notion has so quickly become a countermodel to authoritarian communist systems in East-Central Europe and Latin America—let alone the relevance of this concept—have rarely been called into question. Only recently and in the light of the mounting political tensions in Poland and Russia have...

  9. Section III: Transforming Modes and Practices of Alternative Culture

    • Chapter 8 The Bards of Magnitizdat: An Aesthetic Political History of Russian Underground Recordings
      (pp. 175-189)
      Brian A. Horne

      In August 2000, the Russian nuclear submarine Kursk sank to the bottom of the Barents Sea with its entire crew of 118 sailors. Those who had survived the accidental torpedo detonation that had crippled the ship had been trapped inside the submarine without light or heat, waiting for rescue as the Kursk slowly flooded. By the time rescue divers finally reached the ship nine days after the accident, the entire crew had drowned.² Upon confirmation that none had survived, the Russian television network NTV paid tribute to the crew by listing each of their names and replaying footage of the...

    • Chapter 9 Writing about Apparently Nonexistent Art: The Tamizdat Journal A-Ja and Russian Unofficial Arts in the 1970s and 1980s
      (pp. 190-205)
      Valentina Parisi

      In the second half of the 1970s, tamizdat gradually emerged as the most relevant channel in the cross-cultural exchange of ideas between Eastern and Western Europe, as well as across the Atlantic, and thus considerably redefined the uniqueness of samizdat as the only medium of uncensored intellectual production in the USSR. While in the 1950s and 1960s, the circulation of texts was generally oriented from East toward West (so works that for several reasons could not appear in the Gosizdat were sent abroad in order to be published), during the 1970s, the cultural transfer became less one-sided and implied a...

    • Chapter 10 “Video Knows No Borders”: Samizdat Television and the Unofficial Public Sphere in “Normalized” Czechoslovakia
      (pp. 206-218)
      Alice Lovejoy

      Tracing the history of alternative film and media practices in socialist Eastern Europe is a daunting project.¹ This is, in part, due to a lack of institutional possibilities for such practices: cinema, Lenin’s “most important art,” was quickly nationalized throughout the region after World War II, and closely controlled by its constituent states until 1989.² Nationalization was possible, effective—and in large part beneficial—in part because of cinema’s very nature as a medium. Film, unlike many other arts, typically demands considerable human, financial, and material resources, and nationalization both made these resources more widely available and allowed the state...

  10. Section IV: Moving From Samizdat/Tamizdat To Alternative Media Today

    • Chapter 11 Postprintium? Digital Literary Samizdat on the Russian Internet
      (pp. 221-244)
      Henrike Schmidt

      Literary samizdat of the Soviet era developed its own agenda and aesthetics, perhaps best characterized by the termpräprintium,coined by the literary scholars Georg Witte and Sabine Hänsgen in 1998.² Deprived of contemporary printing technologies for political reasons, Soviet samizdat often returned to preprint techniques and, in its handmade aesthetics, set itself in opposition to the high culture of the official sphere.³

      Digital samizdat⁴ differs at first glance from its Soviet predecessor. Though as well excluded, for various political and aesthetical reasons, from the traditional publishing institutions, it nevertheless suffers neither comparable material constraints, nor the lack of a...

    • Chapter 12 Independent Media, Transnational Borders, and Networks of Resistance: Collaborative Art Radio between Belgrade (Radio B92) and Vienna (ORF)
      (pp. 245-262)
      Daniel Gilfillan

      Radio broadcasting in the context of the Cold War in Europe certainly meant competing transmissions from ideologically stalwart sides of the Iron Curtain, but it also meant frequency seepage, and intermedial support from dissident samizdat networks for stations like Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty to be able to transmit successfully into the impenetrable frontier of Eastern Europe.¹ In post-1989 Europe, the close relationship between the textual networks of samizdat and the sound broadcast networks of these and other stations underwent significant changes, not only in terms of the technologies of broadcast and transmission, but also in terms of the...

    • Chapter 13 “From Wallpapers to Blogs”: Samizdat and Internet in China
      (pp. 263-280)
      Martin Hala

      The exponential growth of the Internet in China since the mid 1990s has attracted much attention internationally, as did the Chinese government’s truly Herculean effort to control it, and the cat-and-mouse game that ensued between users and censors.¹ After rather slow and lukewarm beginnings, China has embraced the Internet with a vengeance. Commercial Internet services became available in China in 1996; in the first decade, the online population had grown from an estimated 630,000 users in 1997 to 137 million by the end of 2006, with 90.7 million enjoying broadband connections.² After another half a decade, with almost half a...

    • Chapter 14 Reflections on the Revolutions in Europe: Lessons for the Middle East and the Arab Spring
      (pp. 281-315)
      Barbara J. Falk

      It is increasingly fashionable to suggest that the Global War on Terror (GWOT)—the rubric under which much counterterrorism activity was subsumed immediately after 9/11—is the “Cold War” of the twenty-first century. As with the Cold War, the War on Terror would be a “long war” without decisive battles, a clash of ideologies, and a battle for “hearts and minds,” fought on civilian as well as military terrain, where the enemy cannot be defeated simply through “containment.” The GWOT has not been primarily about the conquest of territory, and, although the academic Left delights in its discussion of the...

  11. Afterword The Legacies of Dissent: Charter 77, the Helsinki Effect, and the Emergence of a European Public Space
    (pp. 316-332)
    Jacques Rupnik

    In 1956, Leszek Kolakowski published a famous essay entitled “What is Alive and What is Dead in the Socialist Idea.” More than two decades after the fall of communist regimes in East-Central Europe, we can now ask: What is alive and what is dead in the legacy of the human rights movement and, more generally, that of Central European dissent? In what way has it contributed to the overcoming of the partition of Europe in 1989? What does it tell us about the role of public intellectuals in conditions of unfreedom and about intellectuals in the politics of a transition...

  12. Appendix Ardis Facsimile and Reprint Editions
    (pp. 333-338)
  13. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 339-345)
  14. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 346-350)
  15. Index
    (pp. 351-366)