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Harriman Institute




The Criminalization of Communism in the European Political Space after the Cold War

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Please join the East Central European Center at the Harriman Institute for a discussion with Laure Neumayer, Professor of Political Science at University de Picardie Jules Verne. This event is part of the Collective Memory and Democratic Backsliding in Central and Eastern Europe series organized by Harriman Institute Postdoctoral Fellow Čarna Pištan.

Memory has taken center stage in European-level policies after the Cold War, as the Western historical narrative based on the uniqueness of the Holocaust has been challenged by calls for an equal condemnation of Communism and Nazism. Since the early 1990s, Central European representatives in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and in the European Parliament have carried out anti-communist mobilizations in European institutions, pan-European political parties and transnational advocacy networks. This presentation will analyze the memory entrepreneurs’ requests for collective remembrance and legal accountability of Communist crimes. Neumayer will show that these newcomers managed to strengthen their positions and impose a totalitarian interpretation of Communism in the European assemblies, which directly shaped the EU’s remembrance policy. However, the rules of the European political game and recurring ideological conflicts with left-wing opponents reduced the legal and judicial implications of this anti-communist grammar at the European level.


Laure Neumayer is Professor of Political Science at University de Picardie Jules Verne in Amiens, France. Her current work lies at the crossroads of the sociology of European construction and memory studies, with a specialization on Central Europe. She focuses on the construction of a historical memory of communism on a European scale, the political uses of the past in Central Europe and the reconfigurations of anticommunism after the Cold War. Recent publications on these themes include a monograph, The Criminalisation of Communism in the European Political Space after the Cold War (Routledge, 2019) and two collective publications: Condamner le passé ? Mémoires des passés autoritaires en Europe et en Amérique latine au XXème siècle (Presses Universitaires de Nanterre, 2019, Open Access) and “Transnational activism and the globalization of anti-communism after 1989” (Revue d’études comparatives Est-Ouest, n°2-3, 2020). Neumayer was a member of the French Centre for Social Science Research in Prague (1997–2002), a Junior Fellow at the Collegium Budapest-Institute for Advanced Studies (Spring 2002), a Junior Member of the Institut Universitaire de France (2013–2018) and a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University in New York, Harriman Institute (Spring 2018).


Featured image attribution: Jonas Ambraška – Europeana 1989, CC BY-SA 4.0 “Lithuanians protesting against the Soviet occupation on Lenin Square (now Freedom Square) during the original Baltic Way on Black Ribbon Day in 1989”