The authors of this beautiful book are professional academics and intellectuals who grew up in different socialist countries. Exploring “socialist childhoods” in a myriad ways they draw on memoirs and memories, personal experience and collectively history, emotional knowledge of an insider and a measured perspective of an analyst. What emerges is life that was caught between real optimism and dullness, ethical commitments and ideological absurdities, selfless devotion to children and their treatment as a political resource. Such attention to detail and paradox makes this collective effort not only timely but also remarkably genuine.Alexei Yurchak, Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, USA
How can the intimate stories of childhood – the memories and experiences of everyday life – disrupt colonial/modern accounts of history and political change? In this highly original volume, rich and evocative memory stories of (post)socialist childhoods are weaved together to offer profound insights into the possibilities for decolonising childhood. The thoughtfully situated auto-ethnographic and collective biographical accounts presented here brilliantly reveal the cultural-political significance of childhood. In doing so, this volume breaks new methodological and theoretical ground for the fields of childhood studies and comparative education.Arathi Sriprakash, Lecturer, Sociology of Education, University of Cambridge, UK
Childhood and Schooling in (Post) Socialist Societies offers a thoughtful and diverse series of reflections on memories of living with socialism. The chapters weave vivid accounts of childhood experiences with nuanced theoretical insights. The book provides a key intervention in cross-disciplinary scholarship about childhood memories and their role in understanding societal transitions.Peter Kraftl, Professor and Chair in Human Geography, Director of Internationalisation, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, UK
Ranging from Hungary and Russia, to Vietnam and China, Childhood and Schooling in (Post) Socialist Societies paints a complex and productively contradictory picture of the diversity of children’s lived experiences in (post)socialist countries. Through the lens of the researchers’ own memories, children’s active participation in their development and their unique social and political contributions are taken seriously. This is an essential reference point for historians of childhood and memory, of the self, and of (post)socialist ideologies and experience.Stephanie Olsen, Department of History, McGill University, Canada
Elegantly structured, this collection is unusual in its evocative and analytic power. The editors have drawn together an accomplished set of researchers who offer remarkable autobiographical insights into socialist childhoods. This is a pathbreaking book that will inspire others to develop new approaches to comparative education research.Noah W. Sobe, Professor, Loyola University Chicago, USA and President of Comparative and International Education Society, CIES
This book should be of interest to scholars in a variety of fields, but particularly to historians of childhood, education specialists, and social scientists. … the book makes a powerful argument against viewing (post) socialist life as a series of simple dichotomies or children in (post)socialist contexts as vessels passively filled by state institutions or ideologies, thus joining an increasing number of recent works that point out the insufficiencies of such frameworks for understanding what it meant to live (post)socialism.Julie deGraffenried, The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth, 12(2), 2019
This book is bold in its vision and ambitious in its scope. Its appeal is manifold and rich. Theoretically, its appeal lies in its provocative decolonial lens of understanding childhood and (post)socialism and the concurrent challenges it brings to dominant concepts in comparative education.Simona Szakacs, European Education, 51(1), 2019
It seems there is no escaping of the domino effect of memory stories. We hear one, we tell one.
This is the strongest point in the book. It sweeps away the “stereotyped images of the child as an icon of socialist utopia, or the child as a traumatized victim of a repressive regime” to “give way to more ambivalent depictions, layered forms of knowledge and deeper understanding of institutional settings and their effects on the former young subjects” (Lenart-Cheng & Luca, 2018, p. 21) in what is deemed to be past socialist and post-socialist societies. The children come to life as active agents in negotiations of issues of importance on their everyday level.
Robert Hamm Other Education 9(2) 2020