Inclusive Mnemonic Communities

This is the webpage of the project “Towards Inclusive Mnemonic Communities: Re-Visiting Violent Pasts through the Lens of Artistic Memory in Eastern Europe” (Contract TE 24/2020, PN-III-P1-1.1-TE-2019-0025, UEFISCDI: 431.900 Ron) which is hosted by the PolArt, Department of Political Science, University of Bucharest.

About the project

The interdisciplinary research project “Towards Inclusive Mnemonic Communities: Re-Visiting Violent Pasts through the Lens of Artistic Memory in Eastern Europe” (Contract TE 24/2020, PN-III-P1-1.1-TE-2019-0025, UEFISCDI: 431.900 Ron) fleshes out the “artistic memories” (Preda) of various violent pasts (the Holocaust, the Nazi and communist era atrocities, ethno-nationalistic wars and ethnic cleansing, forced labor, as well as various forms of racism like Romaphobia) from a comparative Eastern European perspective. We argue that the artistic memory projects produced after 1990 – and selected as case studies for this research project – can establish a new direction in the commemorative practices of the violent pasts. Artistic memory cultures can foster diverse, but inclusive mnemonic communities that exceed the polarizing narratives about “them,” and “us” in light of memory activism for universal human rights. From a theoretical point of view, this is an interdisciplinary research at the intersection of Cultural studies, Cultural Memory Studies and Political Science, (including a focus on Transitional Justice, and Human Rights Theory) which has the aim to highlight the artistic memory culture’s ability to deal with violent pasts, various forms of injustice and hegemonic patterns of domination from historical knowledge production about the past.

Maria Alina Asavei

PhD, Senior Lecturer, Charles University in Prague/PolArt – University of Bucharest  (Project Director)Maria-Alina Asavei is a senior lecturer at the Russian and East European Department (Institute of International Studies, Charles University) and an independent curator of contemporary art. She is a former honorary research fellow at City University of New York (CUNY) and at the American Research Center in Sofia (ARCS). In 2018-2019 she received the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Faculty Fellow, Centre for Orthodox Studies, Fordham University, New York. She is currently the Scientist in charge for Charles University within Horizon 2020 research project POPREBEL: Populist rebellion against modernity (2019-2021). She has published articles and book chapters with prestigious journals and publishing houses, such as Oxford University Press, Memory Studies, Journal of Aesthetics and Culture, European Journal of Women’s Studies. Her book Aesthetics, Disinterestedness and Effectiveness in Political Art (Lexington Books, 2018) deals with the concatenation of art, politics & aesthetics from a philosophical perspective. Her current book project is titled Art, Religion and Resistance in (Post-) Communist Romania – Nostalgia for Paradise Lost (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020).

Caterina Preda

PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, PolArt, University of Bucharest. Caterina Preda holds a PhD in Political Science of the University of Bucharest (2009) and has had several undergraduate and post-graduate scholarships in Europe and South America, as well as postdoctoral fellowships. Associate Professor at the University of Bucharest, Department of Political Science, she teaches ‘Contemporary Latin America’, ‘Art and Politics’, and ‘Cultural memory in Eastern Europe and South America’ courses. She researches the relationship between art and politics in modern dictatorships in South America and Eastern Europe, as well as the art and politics of memory in the two regions. She has published several scientific articles in international peer-reviewed journals, as well as chapters in volumes published by Routledge or Palgrave. She has coordinated several research projects at the University of Bucharest and has worked as part of other research teams.

Manuela Marin 

PhD, Museum curator, National Museum of Transylvanian History, Cluj-Napoca, PolArt-University of BucharestManuela Marin holds a PhD in Contemporary History of the Babeș-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca (2008). She is an associate lecturer at the Babeș-Bolyai University where she teaches seminars on ‘History of the 20th century’, ‘Intelligence and Counterintelligence during the 20th Century’ (in English and Romanian) and ‘Sources and Research Methods in Contemporary and Recent History’. Between 2010 and 2012 she had a postdoctoral fellowship from the CNCS (now UEFISCDI), followed by another fellowship at the American Research Centre in Sofia in 2014. She continued to work as a postdoctoral researcher in the Horizon 2020 Research Project COURAGE (2018-2019), in an EEA Grant on The Untold Story. An Oral History of Roma People in Romania at the Oral History Institute, Babeș-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca (2015-2017). She authored two books on Nicolae Ceaușescu’s cult of personality and edited another one on the history of the Roma during the communist regime in Romania. She published several scientific articles in national peer-reviewed journals, as well as chapters in volumes published by Routledge and Berghahn Books.


Maria Alina Asavei 

“Engraving in the Skin: Vernacular Memorials for Ceausescu, Tito and Stalin” to be published in a special issue edited by Maria-Alina Asavei & Katerina Kralova “Troubled Past Representations in Central East and Southeastern Europe Beyond the National Museum Paradigm,” in Nationalities Papers (Social Sciences Citation Index, ISI – IF 0.803). Accepted for publication and forthcoming in 2022.

Indexical Realism during Socialism: Documenting and Remembering the ‘Everyday Realities’ of Late Socilaist Romania through Photographs“, Photography and Culture, 2020 ( Arts and Humanities Citation Index, ISI)

“The Artistic Memory of the Holocaust as a New Direction in Commemorative Practices in Central and South-East Europe” in D. Letort, H. Lecossois et R. Bouchet, Résurgences conflictuelles : le travail de mémoire entre arts et histoire, Rennes, Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2021, pp. 325-343.

“On Tradition and Cultural Memory in Contemporary Art: Theoretical Considerations.” Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture 5, no. 1 (2021): 126-139. (Erihplus, Scopus). 

Introduction (with Jan Sir) of the Special Issue “Troubled Pasts and Memory Politics: Contesting Hegemonic Narratives in North America, Europe, and Eurasia,” Studia Territorialia, 1 (1), 2021, doi: 10.14712/23363231.2021.1. (Erihplus/Scopus)

Introduction (with Katerina Kralova) Special Issue “Beyond the National Museum Paradigm: Troubled Past Representations in Central East and Southeastern Europe,” Nationalities Papers, accepted for publication forthcoming 2022. (Social Sciences Citation Index, ISI – IF 0.803, Q1)

Caterina Preda

”’Living Statues’ and Nonuments as ‘Performative Monuments Events’ in Post-Socialist South-Eastern Europe’” for a special issue edited by Maria-Alina Asavei & Katerina Kralova “Troubled Past Representations in Central East and Southeastern Europe Beyond the National Museum Paradigm” in Nationalities Papers (2022), 1-19; doi:10.1017/nps.2021.84 (Social Sciences Citation Index, ISI – IF 0.803)

”Representations of dissent against communism in Romania: anticommunist heroes, ‘prison saints’ and (extra)ordinary citizens” for a special issue edited by Ferenc Laczo and Tamas Scheibner, ”Canonizing and Contesting Soviet-Era Dissent since 1989. Actors, Representations, Impacts” in East European Politics and Societies (Social Sciences Citation Index). Accepted for publication.

“Post-socialist Statuary Politics in Romania and Bulgaria   Replacing Socialist Heroes with Anti-Communist Victims” accepted for publication in Comparative Southeast European Studies (2022). (Scopus, CEEOL, Web of Science – Emerging Sources Citation Index).

Manuela Marin

“The Politics of Memory and the Refashioning of Communism for Young People: The Illustrated Guide to Romanian Communism” , Studia Territorialia, Vol. 21 No. 1 (2021) doi: 10.14712/23363231.2021.10 (Erihplus/Scopus)

 „The Face of Resistance: the Communist Past as an Exhibition Project. The case of the Resisters Exhibition,” Anuarul Institutului de Cercetări Socio-Unmane Sibiu, editura Academiei Romane, Issue 28, 2021, pp.151-184. (Erihplus)

Manuela Marin, “Nostalgia postcomunistă. O perspectivă generală’, în Liliana Corobca, Panorama postcomomunismului în România, Editura Polirom, Iași, 2022, pp. 310-334 (programata sa apară in septembrie -octombrie 2022)

Participation to international conferences


ASEEES Annual Convention (7 Nov 2020, 17 -18.30 Online)

Maria Alina Asavei organized a panel “Of Nostalgia and Rebellion: Re-visiting (post-) communism through the lens of artistic memory “

Caterina Preda, “Romanian Museums of Living in Communism: Private Spaces of Remembrance and the Aestheticization of the Communist Past”

Manuela Marin, ”Nostalgia or Something Else? How Communism is Remembered in Romania”


Maria Alina Asavei organized a panel titled ‘Mnemonic Justice: Romani Communities in Eastern Europe and their Painful Pasts Revealed through an Intersectional Lens’ at the ASEEES Annual Convention New Orleans, December 2021 (online): Caterina Preda presented the paper titled The Role of Artistic Memorialization of the Roma Holocaust in Romania: A ‘New Distribution of the Possible.’; Manuela Marin presented her research on When Memory Becomes Justice: Roma People’s Struggle for Compensations in Post-war Romania; Maria Alina Asavei presented a paper titled Romani Gendered Memories: Beyond the Hegemonic Regimes of Representation.

Alina Maria Asavei organized a panel ”The Politics of Vernacular Memories” at the Association for the Study of Nationalities (ASN) 2021 Convention on 5 May 2021 (online): Alina Maria Asavei presented “The Vernacular Memories of the Official Portrait of Nicolae Ceausescu”, Caterina Preda presented a paper on “’A time machine that will send you back in communist times’: the political role of the private museums in Romania” and Manuela Marin presented a paper on “Communism for Young People: The Illustrated Guide of the Romanian Communism”

Caterina Preda presented “Communist Monuments in Post-Socialist South-Eastern Europe: Removed, Dislocated or Resignified” online at the Balkan Circle organized by the CREEES at the University of Texas at Austin, 12 February 2021, 12-1.15 pm. 

Caterina Preda presented (online) “The visual representations of dissent against communism in Romania: anticommunist heroes and ‘prison saints’” at the Memory Studies Association Annual Conference “Convergences” (University of Warsaw, Poland, July 5-9, 2021)

Caterina Preda presented “Dear Comrades, Visit Your Past!”: the Politics of Daily Life Museums of Communism in Romania” at the Conference “Temporality and Materiality under Socialism” (01-02 July 2021, online)

Conferences 2022

23 June, Caterina Preda chaired a panel “Session 5: Art, Architecture and the Politics of Heritage” at the conference Art and the City: Urban Space, Art & Social Change, School of Communication and Culture, University of Aarhus (online), 23-24 June

22 June, Caterina Preda presented a paper on ‘Performative Monuments Events’ as Counter-Monuments in Post-Socialist South-Eastern Europe”, (Re)thinking Countermonuments: The Evolution of “Memory against itself, Online colloquium, University of Leeds, (21-22. June 2022)16 June Caterina Preda presented a paper on “Post-Socialist Statuary Politics and the Ambivalent Socialist Heritage in Romania and Bulgaria: Replacing Socialist Heroes with Anti-Communist Victims,” Ecologies of Decay: Modern Ruination in the Global (Post)Socialist Peripheries, 16-17 June 2022, UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies

Additional activities


Maria Alina Asavei’s op-ed entitled  On the Appropriateness of Cultural Representations of Mass Violence against Women within the 16 Days of  Blogathon Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (November 25 to December 10). This is a collaborative project co-hosted by genderED and Edinburgh College of Art at University of Edinburgh, the Australian Human Rights Institute at the University of New South Wales and Ambedkar University Delhi. 

Manuela Marin participated to the annual conference organized by the Institutul de Cercetări Socio-Umane Sibiu al Academiei Române with a presentation titled « Comunismul pe înțelesul tinerilor : Ghidul ilustrat al comunismului românesc” (4 dec. 2020).


Maria Alina Asavei presented a paper titledThe Cultural Memory of the “Old Man”: Art, Politics and Spiritual Awakening in Romanian Late Communism,” at the international workshop “Soviet Spirituality”: The Phenomenon and Its Research Possibilities Riga, Latvia on June 10–11, 2021.

Caterina Preda presented a paper on ”Transregional Cultural Relations of the Second Socialist World during the Cold War” in a panel titled at the Narrating Cold War conference, 11-13 Nov. 2021, Hong Kong Baptist University (11 November, online).

Caterina Preda chaired the panel ‘Transitional Justice and Memory’ and presented a paper on ‘The transnational artistic memorialisation of Operation Condor’ at the Interdisciplinary Perspectives in Transitional Justice 6-7 July 2021, Loughborough University A virtual conference supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture at Loughborough University.

Caterina Preda was part of the scientific board of the conference “FSPUB @30 & Studia Politica @20. Evoluția științei politice românești: instituționalizare, profesionalizare, provocări trecute și viitoare” (25-26.11.2021) and chaired a panel.

Caterina Preda was part of the scientific board of the conference “Art and the City: Urban Space, Art and Social Change” and chaired a panel on April 30 2021 titled ‘Session 7: Public Statues and Decolonization’

Manuela Marin, Alina Asavei, ”FOTO. Despre comunism, Nicolae Ceaușescu și memoria sa la 32 de ani distanță”, Cluj24, 21 decembrie 2021  


Report 2020

Report 2021

Report 2022