Jovana Vukcevic: Consuming Heritage in Post-socialist States

Consuming Heritage in Post-socialist States: Nostalgia, Political Negotiation and Disneyfication of Communist Memorial Sites

This project addresses the consumption of socialist memorial sites in Central and Eastern Europe. It questions how the historical authenticity of communist heritage has been commodified, “rebranded” and negotiated by the state authorities, for the sake of tourist competitiveness and post-socialist identity construction. The objective of the study is to address the ways in which post-socialist states have transformed, reinterpreted and commercialized the socialist heritage and its narratives, creating a pastiche which is more a romantic fantasy than a historical fact. Can this commodification and disneyfication of the heritage be interpreted as a way to avoid coming to terms with the past (German ‘Vergangenheitsbewältigung’), confronting personal or collective guilt, or maybe only admitting the flaws of that same socialist past and facilitating state and identity transformation? Using the comparative approach, the project aims to question the role of heritage in polishing the socialist history, in reconciling memory and history, and, in the case of violent ruptures (such as Yugoslavia, Romania), in post conflict recovery.

Jovana Vukcevic obtained her (double) Master degree from Charles University of Prague and EHESS Paris (Erasmus Mundus Master TEMA – European Territories), graduating with honours with her research on the “Commodification of the collective memory: Yugonostalgia as a marketing strategy”. Previously, she obtained her BSc from the University of Montenegro and her MA from the University of Nice. Jovana Vukcevic was granted numerous scholarships and awards (EIFFEL, Erasmus Mundus, CEEPUS, Basileus) and she presented at academic conferences in Dublin, Paris, Sofia, Dakar, Bucharest, Florence, Munich. Her research interests include collective memory, post-socialist identity reconstruction, Yugonostalgia and communist heritage. She is currently conducting a pre-doctoral research (funded under the project ‘Trajectories of change’, German ZEIT foundation) on “Consuming heritage in post-socialist states: Nostalgia, political negotiation and disneyfication of communist memorial sites.“

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