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Twenty Years After Communism$
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Michael Bernhard and Jan Kubik

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199375134

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199375134.001.0001

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Remembering, Not Commemorating, 1989

Remembering, Not Commemorating, 1989

The Twenty-Year Anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in the Czech Republic

(p.170) (p.171) 8 Remembering, Not Commemorating, 1989
Twenty Years After Communism

Conor O’Dwyer

Oxford University Press

There was a striking disconnect between the official commemoration of the Velvet Revolution in the Czech Republic in 2009 and that of civil society. Surprisingly, the political class seemed content to abnegate commemoration, to bow out of the discussion of the anniversary’s significance. By contrast, civil society groups (and, in particular, student groups) mounted a sustained and intensive campaign to connect with the dissident legacy of 1989, while at the same time critically reflecting on current-day politics. Mocking, irreverent, and carnivalesque, these groups rediscovered anti-politics as a means to critique Czech post-communist democracy. As this critique of official politics was ultimately more reformist than revolutionary, however, both poles of the memory regime—the political class and civil societal groups—could coexist without major antagonism. Thus, the anniversary revealed a Czech memory regime best described as pillarized.

Keywords:   Czech Republic, Velvet Revolution, anti-politics, civil society, post-communist

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