This session examines the cultures of dissent and the cultures of control under dictatorships from a global perspective. Concentrating in particular on the regulation of culture (in a broad sense), the session attempts to address the questions as how the authorities sought to frame cultural life in terms of a struggle between the official and non-conform, tolerated, prohibited and supported cultural activities. In so doing, it offers insights into the nature of “authoritarian” and “totalitarian” regimes as projects of cultural transformation. The session will focus on the following questions:
Dictatorships are recognized as controlling cultural activities in the societies they rule. Nonetheless, political dictatorships are also the hotbed of vivid, appealing and creative forms of counter culture, cultural opposition and cultural dissent. Setting aside the “totalitarian paradigm,” and rejecting the notion of a sharp divide between the “state” and “society,” between supporters and agents of the regime on the one hand and victims on the other, we encourage to shed light on the ways in which locals (individuals and groups) acted as historical agents and the extent to which they were able to influence and even reshape state policies and create a dissent culture under authoritarian and totalitarian regimes. The communist regimes are a pertaining example all over the world: here culture meant much more than socialist realism and dull propaganda art. Cultural opposition and the survival of civic courage in dictatorships are broader, globally relevant social activities, however.