Kyrill KunakhovichMar 1, 2023
Communism's Public Sphere
Culture As Politics in Cold War Poland and East Germany
Cornell University Press 2023
In Communism’s Public Sphere: Culture as Politics in Cold War Poland and East Germany (Cornell University Press, 2022), historian Kyrill Kunakhovich explores communist Poland and East Germany as laboratories of a transnational “cultural public sphere.” Under regimes that banned free speech, political expression shifted to spaces of art: theaters, galleries, concert halls, and youth clubs. Kyrill Kunakhovich shows how these venues turned into sites of dialogue and contestation. While officials used them to spread the communist message, artists and audiences often flouted state policy and championed alternative visions. Focusing on Kraków in Poland and Leipzig in East Germany, Communism’s Public Sphere sheds new light on state-society interactions in the Eastern Bloc. In place of the familiar trope of domination and resistance, it highlights unexpected symbioses like state-sponsored rock and roll, socialist consumerism, and sanctioned dissent.
Piotr H. Kosicki is Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is the author of Catholics on the Barricades (Yale, 2018) and editor, among others, of Political Exile in the Global Twentieth Century (with Wolfram Kaiser).