Media and Communication Ph.D. Dissertations

Title

Remaking Albania: Public Memory of Communist Past

Date of Award

2018

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Department

Media and Communication

First Advisor

Alberto Gonzalez (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Joshua Atkinson (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Lara Lengel (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Francisco Cabanillas (Other)

Abstract

Public memory has become increasingly significant in communication research, especially pertaining to national traumatic pasts. Drawing from scholarship on memory-rhetoric interdependence, this study examines the rhetorical construction of the communist past in contemporary Albania. The analysis of national traditional media, places of memory, and official documents and archives reveals the ways that the communist past is contained, controlled, and diffused in response to present national and international interests and agendas. The shared identities narrated through public debates reveal that contestations about the past are first and foremost about cultural and political legitimacy. Throughout the analysis, it is obvious how the discussions about Albania’s communist past shifted to blaming the system, to denying collaboration, and to rationalizing the totalitarian structure. This study highlights the consequences that transnational influences have on redirecting and appropriating public memory and avoiding a genuine confrontation with the past. The past is reconfigured continuously, as the reconciliation reforms, the cold war connections and conflicts, and the totalizing European Union integration discourse influence what is remembered, by whom, where, and when. This study examines the discourses of remaking Albania as a rhetorical tension over meanings of past and future, where the communist past is diffused into collective guilt that haunts the bright EU imagined futures.

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