Living Communist History in the Living Room: The Communist Consumer Museum in Timisoara, Romania
Keywords:entrepreneurship, post-communist memory, nostalgia, museum, oral history
The aim of this article is to construe the Communist Consumer Museum in Timişoara, Romania, as a realm of communist everyday life memory in the current historical context, marked by an upsurge of both nostalgia and cultural entrepreneurship. The article identifies this Museum as an alternative one, in which the remembrance of everyday consumption, ideology, popular and official culture presupposes an affective interaction of the visitor with a series of material artifacts and household objects from the communist everyday life. For the analysis of this museum I will rely on written and oral history interviews, as well as on participant observation and theoretical approaches to memory, nostalgia, and entrepreneurship studies. In construing this project, I will go beyond the received wisdom of mere nostalgia, while taking into account the entrepreneurial private project of its initiators, as well as the multitude of perspectives on the museum, which arise from the way it is conceived. Thus, by being an unofficial initiative and devoid of a state agenda, the Communist Consumer Museum produces a democratization of the approach to history. While the setting itself is not authentic, mainly because of it being housed in a villa which precedes the communist era, as well as because of the amount of material artifacts, which turn the “apartment” into a post factum conglomerate of objects, I argue that it is the very accumulation of such artifacts within the museum that offers its viewers the opportunity of choice.
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