David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Human Studies 29 (3):341 - 362 (2006)
In this paper, we discuss the problem of communist power in so called totalitarian regimes. Inspired by strategies of explanation in contemporary science studies and by the ethnomethodological conception of social order, we suggest that the power of communists is not to be taken as an unproblematic source of explanation; rather, we take this power as something that is itself in need of being explained. We study personal narratives on political screenings that took place in Czechoslovakia in 1970 and analyze how the power of communists obtained its strength from ordinary and “unremarkable” interactions between participants. The screenings are interpreted, in the terms of Bruno Latour, as “trials of strength.” We show that it was crucial for all the participants that associations, translations or mobilizations involved in making the regime real, remained partial and multiple, and not exclusive and “total” as is often assumed within dominant discourses on totalitarianism.
|Keywords||actor-network theory communism Czechoslovakia ethnomethodology political screenings power totalitarianism trials of strength|
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