Publications and Research
During the cold war, material culture could symbolically mark conflicts between the East and West. Lenin, Marx, the sickle and hammer symbolized communist strength. Household items and electronics were marveled at as new and advanced in contrast to the Western capitalist exotic “Other.” In Hungary today these symbols become Communist kitsch that can undermine former tensions and illustrate a collective ambivalence towards the post-socialist condition by (1) reinterpreting time and space, (2) symbolizing the cold war ‘other,’ (3) creating fantasized spaces, (4) and by representing a generational divide. Making former symbols of Communist strength ‘kitschy’ illustrates a mockery of the past, which becomes fodder for humor much like Bahktin’s discussion of inverse of power. The kitschification of Communism evokes various understandings of nostalgia in material form that underscores reinvented commentaries on the past as well as a response to an uncertain present and in the process neutralizes political complexity.