Skip to main content

On the Edge of Two Zones: Slovak Socialist Childhoods

Abstract

This chapter reconstructs socialist childhoods in Slovakia. It is based on autobiographical memory stories from the authors’ lives and adopts a largely duoethnographic approach. Episodes from these socialist childhoods are narrated against Slovakia’s chiefly Christian and agrarian traditions. In the ‘building communism’ era, these traditions encountered the newly introduced atheism and industrial way of life. The symbolic contrast between the ‘two worlds’ shaped the personal identities of their inhabitants that emerged out of the conflicts generated by these worlds. The analysis shows that the nature and timing of the communist transitional rituals borrowed heavily from their religious counterparts, illustrating the tensions between the two parallel worlds of socialist Slovakia and suggesting that there was no single indoctrinist socialist childhood.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5

Notes

  1. 1.

    Bren retains the Czech (or Slovak) term chata in her English language chapter. It is a term that denotes small recreational structures that formed ‘chata colonies—clusters of new, often aesthetically unattractive recreation cottages with rows of Trabant and Škoda cars parked out in front’ (p. 125). These colonies were popular because ‘to get away to the chata was to act on the desire to escape into the depoliticized private sphere’ (p. 127).

  2. 2.

    In this study Ivica is a figure from the past who surfaces in Branislav’s memories. Once she and Branislav had completed secondary school and moved away from the town, their lives took completely different directions, and since then they have heard almost nothing of one another. In much the same way, Ivica’s living zone, the ‘old world’ is also part memory and part history. The zone was torn down towards the end of the socialist era, and in its place a typical socialist housing estate was erected. Ivica’s first name has been changed for the purposes of this chapter, and since she changed her name when she married, we would have great difficulty identifying her in any case. This is one of those instances where researchers adopting the method in which distant events are reconstructed on the basis of recollection inevitably encounter certain ethical boundaries.

References

  • Bren, P. (2002). Weekend gateways: The chata, the tramp, and the politics of private life in post-1968 Czechoslovakia. In D. Crowley & S. E. Reid (Eds.), Socialist spaces: Sites of everyday life in the Eastern Bloc (pp. 123–140). Oxford, UK: Berg.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ellis, C., Adams, T. E., & Bochner, A. P. (2010). Autoethnography: An overview. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum Qualitative Social Research, 12(1). Retrieved from http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095

  • Ellis, C., & Bochner, A. P. (2000). Autoethnography, personal narrative, reflexivity: Researcher as subject. In N. Denzin & Y. Lincoln (Eds.), The handbook of qualitative research (pp. 733–768). Thousand Oaks: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Griffiths, T. G., & Millei, Z. (Eds.). (2013). Logics of socialist education: Engaging with crisis, insecurity and uncertainty. Dordrecht and New York: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kopelentova Rehak, J. (2014). Moral childhood: The legacy of socialism and childhood memories in Czechoslovakia. Romanian Journal of Population Studies, 8(2), 89–97.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kvasničková, A. (2005). Náboženstvo ako kolektívna pamäť. Prípad Slovenska a Čiech [Religion as collective memory: The Czech and Slovak cases]. Bratislava: Univerzita Komenského.

    Google Scholar 

  • Leung, K., Kim, U., Yamaguchi, S., & Kashima, Y. (1997). Introduction. In K. Leung, U. Kim, S. Yamaguchi, & Y. Kashima (Eds.), Progress in Asian social psychology (Vol. 1, pp. ix–ix). Singapore: John Wiley and sons.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lutherová, S. G. (2010). Before and after: The phenomenon of Czechoslovakia’s “velvet” revolution in narratives by its “youngest witnesses”. Sociológia, 42(6), 671–690.

    Google Scholar 

  • Macura, V. (1992). Šťastný věk. Symboly, emblémy a mýty 1948–89 [A happy era: symbols, emblems and myths 1948–1989]. Praha, Czech Republic: Pražská imaginace.

    Google Scholar 

  • Norris, J., Sawyer, R. D., & Lund, D. (2012). Duoethnography—Dialogic methods for social health and educational research. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nosal, I. (2002). Czech childhood in the context of socialism and post-socialism: Discourse and representation. Socialni Studia [Social Studies], 8, 53–75.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ogbu, J. U. (1981). Origin of human competence: A cultural-ecological perspective. Child Development, 52(2), 413–429.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Roubal, P. (2016). Československé spartakiády [Czechoslovak spartakiad]. Praha: Academia.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sawyer, R. D., & Norris, J. (2013). Duoethnography: Understanding qualitative research. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Silova, I. (2010). Rediscovering post-socialism in comparative education. In I. Silova (Ed.), Post-socialism is not dead: (Re)reading the global in comparative education. International Perspectives on Education and Society (Vol. 14, pp. 1–24). Bingley: Emerald.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tesar, M. (2014). Grandpa Frost, pioneers and political subjectivities: A historical analysis of childhoods in totalitarian Czechoslovakia through children’s literature. Romanian Journal of Population Studies, 8(2), 75–87.

    Google Scholar 

  • Turčan, Ľ. (2001). Sociálna otázka v kresťanskej sociológii na Slovensku v prvej polovici 20. storočia (II. časť) [The social question in Christian sociology in Slovakia in the first half of the 20th century (Part 2)]. Sociológia, 33(4), 379–386.

    Google Scholar 

  • Valo, M., & Slivka, D. (2012). Christian churches in post-communist Slovakia: Current challenges and opportunities. Salem, VA: Centre for Religion and Society.

    Google Scholar 

  • Walder, D. (2011). Postcolonial nostalgias: Writing, representation, and memory. Oxford: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

The chapter is the output of research projects VEGA 1/0057/15, VEGA 2/0140/15, KEGA 005TTU-4/2015.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2018 The Author(s)

About this chapter

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Kaščák, O., Pupala, B. (2018). On the Edge of Two Zones: Slovak Socialist Childhoods. In: Silova, I., Piattoeva, N., Millei, Z. (eds) Childhood and Schooling in (Post)Socialist Societies. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-62791-5_4

Download citation

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-62791-5_4

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-319-62790-8

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-319-62791-5

  • eBook Packages: EducationEducation (R0)