Anikó Imre is Associate Professor and Chair of Critical Studies in the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California. She is the author of Identity Games: Globalization and the Transformation of Media Cultures in the New Europe.
Postsocialist Nostalgia and European Historical Drama
This chapter evaluates television’s role in navigating between history and memory in post–Cold War Europe. While television has been instrumental in national reassessments of historical turning points in recent decades, the chapter argues that it also documents a reopening of the divide between Eastern and Western Europe. Whereas in the core European Union countries historical drama is experiencing a revival as a site of both historical revision and good business, in the East television has become a major site of postsocialist nostalgia, a phenomenon widely understood as a devalued, immature relationship to the past. The chapter argues that, more than a certain way or content of longing, postsocialist nostalgia is an interpretive framework for understanding post–Cold War Europe’s living relationship with its socialist history. This interpretive framework is in synergy with cultural practices around television. The chapter concludes by looking at various ways in which postsocialist states have deployed nostalgia to extract political and economic capital from socialist history and socialist TV.