Resistance or Complicity?

Resistance or Complicity?: Writing on Academic Publishing in the pre-1989 Czech Republic

Libora Oates-Indruchov√°, Masaryk University, Brno


Despite the attention paid to the censoring practices of state socialist institutions by post-state-socialist scholarship, academic censorship remains an under-researched area. Moreover, in the case of the Czech Republic there is little available written material on these practices from the pre-1989 era, because official censoring measures did not extend to academic publishing and censorship: this occurred in multiple unofficial and “undercover” ways. In my research, I draw mostly on interviews with academics who published during the so-called “Normalization” (i.e. 1969-1989) within official publishing channels and who are still today respected members of the academic community. That means that I excluded those who obviously condoned the repressive measures of the system (the “Normalizers” and “Party-liners”) and also those who expressed open resistance to the system by publishing in samizdat. Apart from the interviews having revealed an intricate texture of censoring and coping strategies, as stories they speak of self-censorship, self-fashioning, pain and resistance, among others. In fact, their nature was so rich, on the one hand, and so contradictory, on the other, that as research material they resisted the conventions of the academic writing mode. In my paper, I will focus on relating the issues of post-state socialist research on state-socialist censorship and reporting on such a project. I will propose that a non-traditional writing mode may help preserve the tensions inherent in the interviews, and instrumental in this process can be foregrounding of the relationship between the researcher (an outsider from the post-state-socialist times) and her informants (insiders of the state-socialist times and people with their reputations at stake in the post-state-socialist times), and of the research process.

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