Cultural Opposition. Understanding the Cultural Heritage of Dissent in the Former Socialist Countries

COURAGE – Research project financed by the European Union through the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme

The title of the project: Cultural Opposition. Understanding the Cultural Heritage of Dissent in the Former Socialist Countries

COURAGE aims at creating the first digital database of both online and offline, private and public, collections which testify to the existence of non-conformism in thought and action – in other words, forms of cultural opposition – in all the former communist countries of East-Central Europe from the rise of these non-democratic regimes in the region to the fall of the Iron Curtain. The project breaks new ground in two major ways. First, it creates a comprehensive electronic registry of collections which are scattered on a large geographical area, many of them privately owned, virtually unknown and thus never researched. Second, it analyzes these collections in their broader social, political, and cultural contexts, in the period before 1989, as well as after. In this way, the project will identify the forms of cultural opposition which individuals and groups developed under the communist regimes in East-Central Europe, and highlight their societal impact. In short, COURAGE will remind everyone that civic courage produces authentic values even under non-democratic regimes, emphasize that the legacy of cultural opposition in the former communist countries is part of a pan-European heritage, and significantly influence the ways in which the recent history of East-Central Europe is represented.

The project can be followed at

The University of Bucharest collaborates in this project with 11 other academic and research institutions from the Czech Republic, Croatia, the Federal Republic of Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and the United Kingdom. The Coordinator of the project is the Research Centre for the Humanities of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest.

Project director: Associate Professor Cristina Petrescu

Cristina PETRESCU is Associate Professor of Comparative Politics and Recent History at the Faculty of Political Science, University of Bucharest, and a former expert for the Presidential Commission for the Study of Communist Dictatorship in Romania. She authored From Robin Hood to Don Quixote: Resistance and Dissent in Communist Romania (Bucharest: Editura Enciclopedică, 2013), contributed to Raport Final al Comisiei Prezidenţiale pentru Analiza Dictaturii Comuniste din România (Final Report of the Presidential Commission for the Analysis of the Communist Dictatorship in Romania) (Bucharest: Humanitas, 2007), and co-edited the volume Nation-Building and Conflicting Identities: Romanian and Hungarian Case Studies (Budapest: Regio Books, 2001). She published in international volumes and peer-reviewed journals in the United States, Great Britain, Spain, Germany, Poland and Hungary over 30 studies on communism, its memory and the related process of coming to terms with the dictatorial past in East-Central Europe.

Corneliu PINTILESCU is Lecturer in the History Department at the Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu.  He holds a PhD in history from the Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca. He is the author of Justiție militară și represiune politică în România comunistă, 1948-1956 (Military Justice and Political Repression in Romania, 1948-1956) (Cluj-Napoca: Presa Universitară Clujeană, 2012) and Procesul Biserica Neagră, 1958 (The Black Church Trial of 1958) (Brașov: Aldus, 2008). He also published over 30 articles and studies in various peer-reviewed journals and collective volumes, in Romania as well as abroad. He is currently a member of the editorial board of Studia Universitatis Cibiniensis. His research interests include military justice and political repression in communist Romania, the nationalities policy of the Romanian state during the post-war period (with a focus on the German minority), and the politics of memory in post-communist Romania.