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On the Edge of Two Zones: Slovak Socialist Childhoods


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.

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  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.


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

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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.

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