Maya Nadkarni

Senior Core Fellow
Period of Stay: 
January 2020 - June 2020
Swarthmore College
Project Title: 
The Postsocialist Life of State Socialism’s Secrets
Project Abstract: 

My study investigates contemporary debates about the status of Hungary’s communist state security archive, where access is still more limited than among many of Hungary’s former Soviet-bloc neighbors. Drawing upon interviews, political and media debates, historical scholarship, and analysis of theatre, film and literature, I examine how struggles to obtain full access to archival files have produced a demand for transparency not merely as a project of historical knowledge, but also as a cultural therapeutics that would finally “work through” the legacies of the socialist past. My focus upon the present-day stakes of the archive builds upon recent scholarship that has primarily investigated historical issues such as the workings of communist bureaucracy and how the regime produced information about its subjects. I argue for expanding past the binary of persecutors and victims to examine how a varied range of contemporary stakeholders—from historians and journalists, to artists and writers, to archivists and historical commissions—all produce knowledge from and about the archive.