Lecture analyzes communism, Romanian prison narratives

By Erin Renzas

Students and University faculty members met Tuesday afternoon in the International Studies Building to hear graduate student Oana Popescu-Sandu’s lecture entitled, “A Vanishing Act: Communist Prisons and Post-Communist Romanian Discourse.”

The short lecture focused on Sandu’s dissertation research in which she analyzes prison narratives from Romania under communism.

“It’s been 16 years since the end of communism and there still hasn’t been a coherent and consistent analysis of the past,” Sandu said. “Historians haven’t tried to put together a more truthful version of the past-of what happened under communism.”

Sandu’s research focuses on why there has not been a major and public effort to reconstruct what really happened in the decades that Romania was controlled by a communist government.

“The issue of the legacy of socialism is very important,” said Lynda Park, assistant director of the University’s Russian, East European and Eurasian Center. “The Berlin Wall doesn’t just come down and that is the end of socialism – just because it ended doesn’t mean it just goes away. There is still the memory of socialism, and there is a big question of how you deal with that when you are trying to join the European Union.”

Romania expects to enter into the European Union as early as 2007.

The lecture was a part of the center’s Noontime Scholar Lecture Series. The series gives visiting and on-campus graduate students and professors a chance to discuss their research in a semi-informal setting and receive feedback from their peers and colleagues, Park said.

The center also sponsors a more formal lecture series, the “Directions in Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies Colloquium Series.”

“The whole region is fascinating for what it has gone through from socialism to post-socialism to what some people are calling post-post-socialism,” Park said.