Childhood and Schooling in (Post)Socialist Societies: Memories of Everyday Life

Edited by Iveta Silova, Nelli Piattoeva, and Zsuzsa Millei

This book explores childhood and schooling in late socialist societies by bringing into dialogue public narratives and personal memories that move beyond imaginaries of Cold War divisions between the East and West. Written by cultural insiders who were brought up and educated on the eastern side of the Iron Curtain – spanning from Central Europe to mainland Asia – the book offers insights into the diverse spaces of socialist childhoods interweaving with broader political, economic, and social life. These evocative memories explore the experiences of children in navigating state expectations to embody “model socialist citizens” and their mixed feelings of attachment, optimism, dullness, and alienation associated with participation in “building” socialist futures. Drawing on the research traditions of autobiography, autoethnography, and collective biography, the authors challenge what is often considered ‘normal’ and ‘natural’ in the historical accounts of socialist childhoods, and engage in (re)writing histories that open space for new knowledges and vast webs of interconnections to emerge. This book will be compelling reading for students and researchers working in education, sociology and history, particularly those within the interdisciplinary fields of childhood and area studies.

Table of Contents

1. Remembering Childhoods, Rewriting (Post)Socialist Lives by Nelli Piattoeva, Iveta Silova, and Zsuzsa Millei [abstract]

2. Memories in Dialogue: Transnational Stories About Socialist Childhoods by Helga Lenart-Cheng and Ioana Luca [abstract]

3. A Dulled Mind in an Active Body: Growing Up as a Girl in Normalization Czechoslovakia by Libora Oates-Indruchová [abstract]

4. On the Edge of Two Zones: Slovak Socialist Childhoods by Ondrej Kaščák and Branislav Pupala [abstract]

5. Growing Up as Vicar’s Daughter in Communist Czechoslovakia: Politics, Religion, and Childhood Agency Examined by Irena Kašparová [abstract]

6. Uncle Ho’s Good Children Award and State Power at a Socialist School in Vietnam by Violette Hoang-Phuong Ho [abstract]

7. Tito’s Last Pioneers and the Politicization of Schooling in Yugoslavia by Anna Bogic [abstract]

8. Hair Bows and Uniforms: Entangled Politics in Children’s Everyday Lives by Zsuzsa Millei, Nelli Piattoeva, Iveta Silova, and Elena Aydarova [abstract]

9. Interrupted Trajectory: The Experiences of Disability and Homeschooling in Post-Soviet Russia by Alfiya Battalova [abstract]

10. Teaching It Straight: Sexuality Education Across Post-State-Socialist Contexts by Ela Przybylo and Polina Ivleva [abstract]

11. Erasure and Renewal in (Post)Socialist China: My Mother’s Long Journey by Jinting Wu [abstract]

12. Towards Decolonizing Childhood and Knowledge Production by Zsuzsa Millei, Iveta Silova, and Nelli Piattoeva [abstract]


Preface to afterwords

1. Narratives from Bygone Times: Toward a Multiplicity of Socialist Childhoods by Marek Tesar

2. The Worlds of Childhood Memory by Robert Imre

3. Decolonizing the Postsocialist Childhood Memories by Madina Tlostanova

4. Beyond the Young Pioneers: Memory Work with Socialist and (Post)socialist Childhoods by Susanne Gannon

5. A New Horizon for Comparative Education? by Jeremy Rappleye