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Documents as Weapons: The Uses of a Dictatorship’s Archives

  • Elidor Mëhilli (a1)
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Thanks to Emily Greble for commissioning this essay and for providing detailed feedback, and to the anonymous reviewer for a sharp reading, which helped me bring discipline to the text. I presented some of these ideas at the conference ‘Mes apatisë dhe nostalgjisë: Kujtesa publike dhe private për komunizmin në Shqipërinë e sotme’, organised by the Institute for Democracy, Media and Culture in Tirana, Albania, in November 2017. Thanks to Idrit Idrizi and Jonila Godole. Research funding was generously provided by the PSC-CUNY Research Awards and the Hunter College Presidential Travel Awards.

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1 A welcome recent dissertation shows how Albanian activists pursued objectives within a multinational framework throughout the first half of the century, reinstating Ottoman era precedents and associations to the history of interwar activism and communist organisation. Lejnar Mitrojorgji, ‘Between Nation and State: Albanian Associations from Ottoman Origins to a Communist Party, 1880–1945’, PhD dissertation, University of Maryland, 2016.

2 Among others, see an ongoing anthology: Azem Qazimi and Çelo Hoxha, eds., Fjalor enciklopedik i viktimave të terrorit komunist, 6 volumes (Tirana: ISKPK, 2012–2017). An Albanian version of the Black Book of Communism has highlighted thousands of executed individuals whose graves remain unknown. Musta, Agim, Libri i zi i komunizimit shqiptar (Tirana: Naim Frashëri, 2007) .

3 My focus here is on recent scholarship only. A study of the longer-term development of Studime historike and the historical profession’s role under socialism would be a useful subject to pursue separately. See Verli, Marenglen, ‘50-vjet revistë ‘Studime historike’ (1964–2014)’, Studime historike 3–4 (2014), 281288 . The institutional framework for conducting professional historical research is itself a legacy of central planning. The Institute of Studies, started in 1946, had a section on history. It was later renamed Institute of Sciences. When the Academy of Sciences was established in the 1970s, the Institute of History was attached to it. In recent years the state’s role in organising research (including the uncertain future of the Academy of Sciences and the formal place of Albanian Studies within public funding schemes) has been a source of contention. Currently, the Institute has been placed under The Center for Albanological Studies (Qendra e Studimeve Albanologjike), alongside sections on archaeology, linguistics and literature and popular culture. A representative example of the Institute’s collective effort is Historia e popullit shqiptar: në katër vëllime, 4 vols. (Tirana: Toena/Akademia e Shkencave, 2002–8).

4 In the 1970s Lubonja was imprisoned on charges on ‘agitation and propaganda’. A memoir of his prison years has been translated into English: Fatos Lubonja, Second Sentence: Inside the Albanian Gulag (London: I.B. Tauris, 2009). Todi Lubonja, Fatos’ father, headed the radio and television agency in the early 1970s when he was purged as part of a sweeping cultural offensive. He also later published a memoir detailing his own prison years. Todi Lubonja, Nën peshën e dhunës: ribotim, 2nd. ed. (Tirana: Mësonjëtorja, 1998). So did Liri Lubonja, Todi’s wife, who endured internment during the imprisonment of her husband and son. Liri Lubonja, Larg dhe mes njerëzve: kujtime internimi, 1973–1990 (Tirana: Dora D’Istria, 1995). This makes it uniquely possible to view the state directed repression of the 1970s and 1980s through the lens of one family’s written testimonies.

5 As an example, one 2014 issue of Përpjekja (Nr. 32–33), titled ‘Current Studies and New Approaches to the History of 20th Century Albania’, featured essays on socialist era industrialisation (Visar Nonaj), demographics (Gjergj Erebara) and the politics of state-sanctioned atheism (Egin Ceka).

6 Many of the so-called polemics have come with select archival documents attached. For example, Plasari, Ndreçi and Malltezi, Luan, Politikë antikombëtare e Enver Hoxhës: Plenumi i 2-të i KQ të PKSH, Berat, 23–27 nëntor 1944: dokumente (Tirana: Drejtoria e Përgjithshme e Arkivave, 1996) . See also Butka, Uran, Dritëhije të historisë: (polemikë me Kristo Frashërin) (Tirana: Maluka, 2012) ; Lufta civile në Shqipëri: 1943–1945 (Tirana: ISKPK, 2015); Mukja - shans i bashkimit, peng i tradhtisë (Tirana: Naim Frashëri, 1998) . Butka, for example, has taken issue with the work of Kristo Frashëri, who was one of the principal historians of the left in Albania and co-author of some of the country’s textbooks. Among Frashëri’s more recent works, see Historia e qytetërimit shqiptar: nga kohët e lashta deri në fund të Luftës së Dytë Botërore (Tirana: Akademia e Shkencave e Shqipërisë, 2008); Mbi historinë e Ballit Kombëtar: (vështrim kritik) (Tirana: Dudaj, 2012); Kongresi i Përmetit (24–28 maj 1944): vështrim historik dhe burime dokumentare (Tirana: Akademia e Shkencave, 2015); Shqipëria në Konferencën e Paqes, Paris 1946: (vështrim historik) (Tirana: Akademia e Shkencave e Shqipërisë, 2015). For an overview of Frashëri’s role in Albanian historiography, see Michael Schmidt-Neke, ‘Kristo Frashëri (1920–2016)’, Südost-Forschungen, 74, 1 (Aug. 2015): 208–10.

7 Examples of general twentieth-century texts include Duka, Valentina, Histori e Shqipërisë, 1912–2000 (Tirana: Kristalina, 2007) and Kastriot Dervishi, Historia e Shtetit shqiptar 1912–2005 (Tirana: 55, 2006). Specifically on the post-war period, see Hamit Kaba, Shqipëria në rrjedhën e luftës së ftohtë (studime dhe dokumenta) (Tirana: Botimpex, 2007) and Shqipëria dhe të mëdhenjtë: nga Lufta e Dytë Botërore në Luftën e Ftohtë (Tirana: Klean, 2015). Ana Lalaj’s Pranvera e rrejshme e pesëdhjetegjashtës: vështrim studimor mbi Konferencën e Tiranës dhe dokumente për protagonistët e saj (Tirana: Infbotues, 2015) examines the 1956 challenge of de-Stalinisation by combining attention to domestic pressures with foreign policy imperatives. Lalaj has also published extensively on Albania’s shifting Cold War era alliances and on the wartime period. For example, see her Dosjet e luftës (histori) (Tiranë: Toena, 2014). Among a younger cohort, more recent specialised studies include Gjon Boriçi, Marrëdhëniet shqiptaro-kineze në Luftën e Ftohtë, 1956–1978 (Tirana: Mirgeeralb, 2016) and Enver Bytyçi, Shqipëri-Kinë: dështimi i një bashkëjetese; historia e marrëdhënieve midis Tiranës e Pekinit gjatë periudhës së komunizmit (Tirana: ISES, 2014), both focused on Sino–Albanian relations.

8 An exception to this point is recent work on socialist morality and the creation of a ‘new man’. See, for example, Idrit Idrizi, ‘Der Neue Mensch in der Politik und Propaganda der Partei der Arbeit Albaniens in den 1960er Jahren’, Südost-Forschungen, 69/70 (2010/2011): 252–83 and ‘Herrschaft und Alltag im albanischen Spätsozialismus (1976–1985)’, PhD dissertation, Universität Wien, 2016. The latter is forthcoming as a monograph in the series ‘Südosteuropäische Arbeiten’ sponsored by the Leibniz-Institut für Ost- und Südosteuropaforschung. In Albanian, see Nikolla, Albert, Njeriu i ri shqiptar: ndërmjet moralit komunist dhe krizës së tranzicionit (Tirana: Onufri, 2012) .

9 An international conference in Albanian Studies convened in London in 1999, resulting in a publication: Schwandner-Sievers, Stephanie and Jürgen Fischer, Bernd, eds., Albanian Identities: Myth, Narratives and Politics (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002) . A second international conference (‘Practices, Materiality, Places and Temporality: New Approaches in Albanian Studies’) took place in Tirana in October 2018. In between, a summary of foreign-language scholarship was published in Jens Schmitt und Eva Anne Frantz, Oliver, eds., Albanische Geschichte. Stand und Perspektiven der Forschung (Munich: Oldenbourg, 2009) . Few of the contributions, however, specifically deal with the communist period.

10 I have in mind the work of younger Prishtina-based historians like Mrika Limani, for example, who are well placed to investigate Yugoslav–Albanian relations from a fresh perspective. In Tirana, recent years have seen interdisciplinary conferences convened by the Faculty of Social Sciences and the University of Tirana. There have also been efforts to make archival documents accessible to schools. For example: Idrizi, Idrit, Godole, Jonila, and Xhemalaj, Fatmiroshe, eds., Komunizmi përmes dokumentesh arkivore. Represioni në periudhën e vetizolimit (Tirana: Filara, 2017) .

11 Besnik Pula, ‘State, Law and Revolution: Agrarian Power and the Nation-State in Albania’, PhD dissertation, University of Michigan, 2011. Pula has been at the forefront of reviving an institutional framework for Albanian studies in the United States.

12 Musaraj, Smoki, ‘Alternative Publics: Reflections on Marginal Collective Practices in Communist Albania’, in Andreas Hemming, Gentiana Kera and Enriketa Pandelejmoni, Albania: Family, Society and Culture in the 20th Century (Zürich Lit, 2012), 175186 . The study of 1980s and 1990s mental mapping across the Adriatic can go both ways. In 1991 Italy was also confronted with the ‘discovery’ of Albania, as refugees showed up ashore. This history serves as a reminder that the Mediterranean turned into a ‘crisis zone’ well before the Syrian Civil War of the 2010s. Vehbiu, Ardian and Devole, Rando, La scoperta dell’Albania: gli albanesi secondo i mass media (Milano: Paoline, 1996) .

13 Arbër Shtëmbari, ‘La biographie en Albanie sous le régime communiste’, MA thesis, Université de Limoges, 2010; Kretsi, Georgia, ‘“Good and Bad Biography”: The Concept of Family Liability in the Practice of State Domination in Socialist Albania’, in Ulf Brunnbauer, Andreas Helmedach and Stefan Troebst, eds., Schnittstellen: Gesellschaft, Nation, Konflikt und Erinnerung in Südosteuropa: Festschrift für Holm Sundhaussen zum 65. Geburtstag (Munich: Oldenbourg, 2007) .

14 Vehbiu, Ardian, Shqipja totalitare: tipare të ligjërimit publik në Shqipërinë e viteve 1945–1990 (Tirana: Çabej, 2007) ; ‘Peizazhe të fjalës’, www.peizazhe.com (last visited 8 Oct. 2018).

15 Examples include: Bardhoshi, Nebi, ‘The Ethnography of Law in a Dictatorial Situation’, in Aleksandar Boškovic and Chris Hann, eds., The Anthropological Field on the Margins of Europe, 1945–1991 (Zurich: Lit Verlag, 2013), 175190 ; Lelaj, Olsi, ‘Një analizë kritike e studimeve etnografike shqiptare mbi shoqërinë e “real socializmit” në Shqipëri’, Kultura Popullore, 1–2 (2011), 199224 and ‘Koncepti i kulturës, etnografia shqiptare dhe situata diktatoriale: Një analizë kritike’, Kultura Popullore, 1–2 (2013), 115–32. Studies of socialist ethnography can also provide insights on the persistent urban/rural divide under socialism. See Hysa, Armanda, ‘L’ethnographie de la période communiste et l’étude de la ville’, Ethnologie française, 166, 2 (2017), 217228 .

16 Abazi, Enika and Doja, AlbertFrom the Communist Point of View: Cultural Hegemony and Folkloric Manipulation in Albanian Studies under Socialism’, Communist and Post-Communist Studies, 49, 2 (2016), 163178 . See also Pistrick, Eckehard, Performing Nostalgia: Migration Culture and Creativity in South Albania (Abingdon: Routledge, 2016), 35– . More broadly on the relationship between socialist politics and varieties of music, see Tochka, Nicholas, Audible States: Socialist Politics and Popular Music in Albania (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016) .

17 Adopting a transnational lens can be revealing here, as with the example of 1950s East German–Albanian cooperation in musicology. Fiedler, Wilfried, ‘Die deutsch-albanische Expedition von 1957 und ihre Bedeutung für die deutschsprachige Albanologie’, in Eckehard Pistrick, ed., Deutsch-albanische Wissenschaftsbeziehungen hinter dem Eisernen Vorhang (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2016), 1726 .

18 The emphasis of nationalism in Hoxha’s ideological outlook is evident in Bernd J. Fischer, ‘Enver Hoxha and the Stalinist Dictatorship in Albania’, in Fischer, ed., Balkan Strongmen: Dictators and Authoritarian Rulers in South Eastern Europe (West Lafayette: Purdue University Press, 2007), 239–68. As a research and funding framework, nationalism continues to dominate the study of southeastern Europe, as evidenced in the repetitive identity-obsessed panels of the US-based Association for the Study of Nationalities.

19 For the former, see Kotkin, Stephen, ‘1991 and the Russian Revolution: Sources, Conceptual Categories, Analytical Frameworks’, The Journal of Modern History, 70 (1998), 384425 and his ‘The State – Is It Us? Memoirs, Archives, and Kremlinologists’, Russian Review, 61, 1 (2002), 35–51. For the latter, see El Shakry, Omnia, ‘“History without Documents”: The Vexed Archives of Decolonisation in the Middle East’, The American Historical Review, 120, 3 (2015), 920934 .

20 Family photographs have served as sources in the study of the materiality of socialism, raising questions about property (for example, the centralisation of photographic activity) and censorship. de Rapper, Gilles and Anouck, Durand, ‘Au service du peuple. Coopératives et entreprises de photographes dans l’Albanie communiste’, in Ghislaine Gallenga and Laure Verdon, eds., Penser le service public en Méditerranée, Le prisme des sciences sociales (Paris: Karthala, 2017), 219244 ; Nathanaili-Penotet, Jolka, ‘Sur l’autocensure dans l’Albanie totalitaire’, Revue Science and Video, 6 (2017) , available online: http://scienceandvideo.mmsh.univ-aix.fr/numeros/6/Pages/05.aspx (last visited 8 Oct. 2018). Photographic sources can also help tell a more intimate history of Sino-Albanian exchanges: Anouck Durand, Eternal Friendship (Siglio Press, 2017). Eliot Weinberger’s wrong-headed introduction to the volume, however, is best ignored.

21 The number of memoirs published since the early 1990s is extensive – a worthy subject for a separate essay. One of the more celebrated has been At Zef Pllumi’s Rrno vetëm për me tregue (Tirana: 55, 2006), which has been translated into English as Live to Tell: A True Story of Religious Persecution in Communist Albania, 1944–1951 (Bloomington, IN: iUniverse, 2008). A view of the ruling elite from the inside is provided in Spartak Ngjela, Përkulja dhe rënia e tiranisë shqiptare: 1957–2010, 2 vols. (Tirana: UET Press, 2011–2013). The 1970s party-directed assault on culture produced long prison sentences and rich memoirs and reflections. Examples include Visar Zhiti’s Rrugët e ferrit: burgologjia ime për Spaçin dhe më parë, 2nd ed. (Tirana: Omsca-1, 2012); Ferri i çarë: burgologjia ime për Qafë-Barin dhe më pas, 2nd ed. (Tirana: Omsca-1, 2012) and Maks Velo’s Kohë antishenjë (Tirana: Onufri, 2000).

22 A 2003 law on archives (‘Për arkivat’, Nr. 9154, 6 Nov. 2003) stipulated that documents were to be consulted twenty-five years after they were created. In practice, access has been difficult and uneven. Furthermore, there are additional laws governing access to personal data, which continue to complicate research. Online inventories for some of the collections of the Central State Archives were rolled out in 2017, but they contain gaps and errors.

23 The former director of the Interior Ministry archive has published a study on the history of the security police. Kastriot Dervishi, Sigurimi i shtetit 1944–1991: historia e policisë politike të regjimit komunist (Tirana: 55, 2012). (He also enjoys posting various documents, with brief explanations, on Facebook.) There have also been claims that an unspecified number of files have been destroyed.

24 An implicit strand in the compulsive preoccupation with secret documents, especially high-level deliberations, has been the expectation that some hidden conspiracy awaits to be unearthed, explaining the longevity of communist era functionaries in post-communist politics. For example, a widely shared theory about the collapse of the regime goes something like this: in the late 1980s Eastern Bloc leaders met in Katowice (Poland) to strategise about retaining property and privileges on the eve of the collapse of central planning. Ramiz Alia, Albania’s party boss after Hoxha’s death in 1985, is said to have received guidelines from Mikhail Gorbachev about how to proceed with such nefarious plans. A ‘document’ describing this situation has been circulating in various Albanian media for years.

25 Kujtim Nako, Historia e arkivit qendror të Partisë së Punës të Shqipërisë (Tirana: Drejtoria e Përgjithshme e Arkivave, 2004). After the collapse of the communist regime, the party’s archives were transferred to the Central State Archives (Arkivi Qendror Shtetëror), where they remain to this day, as a separate unit (Fondi 14/AP). See Islami, Dhurata and Nako, Kujtim, Shqipëria në Historinë e Luftës së Ftohtë: udhërrëfyes i Arkivit Qendror Shtetëror (Tirana: Drejtoria e Përgjithshme e Arkivave, 2007) .

26 ‘Urdhëresë Nr. 21’, 8 June 1949, Arkivi Qendror Shtetëror (Central State Archives, Tirana, hereafter AQSH), Fondi (F.) 507, Viti (V.) 1949, Dosja (Dos.) 1, Fleta (Fl.) 2; ‘Vendim, Nr. 479’, 18 June 1951, AQSH, F. 507, V. 1951, Dos. 1, Fl. 1.

27 Correspondence between the State Control Commission and the Ministry of Construction, 13 December 1950, AQSH, F. 499, V. 1950, Dos. 20, Fl. 5.

28 As an example, Injac Zamputi described archiving conditions in Shkodër in a letter to Qamil Gavoçi, 2 Sept. 1950, AQSH, F. 507, V. 1950, Dos. 1, Fl. 4–5.

29 ‘Relacion - shpjegues’, n.d., AQSH, F. 507, V. 1955, Dos. 1, Fl. 3. Two years later more critical reports mentioned lost documentation. Ministry of Interior to Office of Prime Minister (Top Secret), 2 Mar. 1957, AQSH, F. 507, v. 1957, Dos. 4, Fl.1. In Krujë, for example, the local executive committee reportedly did not have any type of recordkeeping system in place, despite the government-issued directives. Ministry of Interior to Krujë Executive Committee (Top Secret), 15 Aug. 1957, AQSH, F. 507, v. 1957, Dos. 4, Fl. 16.

30 One early 1950s memo, for example, noted that over 95 per cent of the work of the State Planning Commission was either secret or top secret in nature. The correspondence is contained in AQSH, F. 495, V. 1953, Dos. 59, Fl. 1–2.

31 The administrative shuffle also raised questions of hierarchy. Who responded to whom? One proposal was to rank the director of the archives at the level of the office of statistics. For his part, the archive’s director argued that his unit had to be placed on the same level as the State Bank. Perhaps this had something to do with the fact that the bank director earned a bigger salary than the chief of statistics. ‘Epet mendim mbi projektin e paraqitur nga Drejtori arkivave’, 24 Dec. 1960; ‘Parashtresë mbi riorganizimin e arkivave të shtetit’, 3 Jan. 1961, both in AQSH, F. 490, v. 1961, Dos. 126, Fl. 6–7.

32 ‘Relacion mbi gjëndjen dhe masat për përmirësimin e punës në sektorin e arkivave shtetërore të R. P. Shqipërisë’ (Top Secret), 23 Feb. 1961, AQSH, F. 490, V. 1961, Dos. 126, Fl. 15–20.

33 ‘Mbi gjendjen e arkivave të përkohëshme të Ministrive, Institucioneve, nd/jeve dhe organizatave ekonomike’ (Secret), 10 Feb. 1961, AQSH, F. 490, V. 1961, Dos. 126, Fl. 11–14.

34 ‘Relacion mbi projekt-vendimin ‘Mbi organizimin e arkivave shtetërore’, 4 Jan. 1961, AQSH, F. 490, V. 1961, Dos. 55, Fl. 3.

35 A draft proposal asked for more personnel (an increase from sixty-five to 125). The government decision attached fifty-seven chief archivists to various central agencies and local councils. Nevertheless, the central authority was not yet made fully independent; its budget and personnel were still placed under the Ministry of Interior, but the authority was called ‘autonomous’. ‘Vendim Nr. 109, mbi organizimin e arkivave shtetërore’, 21 Apr. 1961, AQSH, F. 490, V. 1961, Dos. 126, Fl. 24–26. Just because a decision was passed, it does not mean that it was promptly executed. When the problem came up again later that year, it turned out that few institutions had followed the guidance. Ministry of Interior to Office of Prime Minister (Secret), 7 Oct. 1961, AQSH, F. 490, V. 1961, Dos. 126, Fl. 35.

36 ‘Projekt-vendim mbi riorganizimin e arkivave shteterore’, n.d., AQSH, F. 490, V. 1961, Dos. 55, Fl. 5–8. The government decision later in the spring, however, did not mention foreign assistance, though it did mention foreign currency funds to purchase needed equipment. As Soviet–Albanian relations continued to deteriorate, it became clear that Tirana could no longer rely on Moscow. ‘Vendim Nr. 109’, 21 Apr. 1961, AQSH, F. 490, V. 1961, Dos. 126, Fl. 24–26.

37 Decades later the country’s highest scientific authority would claim that the state archives originated in 1944, when party boss Enver Hoxha was said to have recommended the creation of a commission to preserve historical documentation. Akademia e Shkencave e RPSSH, Fjalor enciklopedik shqiptar (Tirana: Akademia e Shkencave e RPSSH, 1985), 41.

38 The study of the ‘revolutionary’ 1960s – particularly from a provincial perspective – would yield important insights on gender dynamics and religion. For indicative overviews, see Clayer, Nathalie, ‘L’Islam sunnite dans l’espace albanophone XIXe-XXIe siècle’, in Oliver Jens Schmitt, ed., Religion und Kultur im albanischsprachigen Südosteuropa (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2010), 151162 ; Danaj, Ermira, ‘From Women’s Emancipation Model to Fetishism of the Law: Gender in Communist and Post-Communist Albania’, in Sofia Aboim and Pedro Vasconcelos, eds., Gender, Sexuality and the Body: Critical Perspectives (Collection of Papers) (Lisbon: Instituto de Ciências Sociais da Universidade de Lisboa, 2014), 4858 .

39 Albania’s ‘cultural revolution’ of the late 1960s, for example, can serve as a productive angle into the paradoxes of Sino–Albanian relations. See Marku, Ylber, ‘China and Albania: The Cultural Revolution and Cold War Relations’, Cold War History, 17, 4 (2017), 367383 .

40 Pedrazzi, Nicola, L’Italia che sognava Enver: partigiani, comunisti, marxisti-leninisti: gli amici italiani dell’Albania popolare (1943–1976) (Nardò: Besa, 2017) ; Molla, Ylli, Guerilas made in Albania: historia e Arafatit, Kabilës, Lulës, Amazonas dhe luftëtarëve nga 11 shtete, që u përgatitën politikisht dhe ushtarakisht nga pedagogët shqiptarë (Tirana: Botart, 2016) ; Carlos Hugo Studart Corrêa, ‘Em algum lugar das selvas amazônicas: as memórias dos guerrilheiros do Araguaia (1966–1974)’, PhD dissertation, Universidade de Brasília, 2013.

41 Then, after Hoxha’s death in 1985, as the Tirana-based historian Edon Qesari has elaborated, an additional conceptual problem became reframing the ‘recent past’ in the shadow of the dead leader. Qesari, Edon, ‘La storiografia contemporanea albanese e lo studio della storia recente. Gli anni del “passaggio epocale” (1985–1992)’, in Antonio D’Alessandri and Armando Pitassio, eds., Dopo la pioggia: gli stati della ex Jugoslavia e l’Albania (1991–2011) (Lecce: Argo, 2011), 5164 .

42 The country’s foreign relations also provide a good basis for comparative study, including of mechanisms of the leader’s cult. See Sretenović, Stanislav and Puto, Artan, ‘Leader Cults in the Western Balkans, 1945–1990: Josip Broz Tito and Enver Hoxha’, in Balázs Apor, Jan C. Behrends, Polly Jones and E. A. Rees, eds., The Leader Cult in Communist Dictatorships: Stalin and the Eastern Bloc (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), 208223 .

43 Established in 1956, it was initially called the Institute of the History of the Party of Labor of Albania. In February 1966 the agency was renamed Institute of Marxist-Leninist Studies at the Central Committee of the Party of Labor of Albania.

44 Among many examples: Dokumente kryesore të Partisë së Punës të Shqipërisë, 8 vols. (Tirana: Instituti i Studimeve Marksiste-Leniniste pranë KQ të PPSH-së, 1960–1986); Probleme të zhvillimit të sotëm botëror: tetor 1978 (Tirana: 8 Nëntori, 1978); Konferenca shkencore për problemet e kushtetutës: 5–7 shkurt (Tirana: 8 Nëntori, 1976); Historia e luftës antifashiste nacionalçlirimtare të popullit Shqiptar, 1939–1944 (Tirana: 8 Nëntori, 1975); Konferenca kombëtare e studimeve shoqërore: nëntor 1969 (Tirana: Naim Frashëri, 1970).

45 A proper non-journalistic biography of Enver Hoxha is not yet available.

46 One author has written that the production of Hoxha’s Vepra ‘was enabled by a collective enterprise, including the work of ghostwriters, who besides payment had no other right but to remain silent’. Leka Ndoja, Tjetërsimi i veprës intelektuale gjatë komunizmit në Shqipëri, 1944–1990 (Tirana: ISKK, 2013), 91.

47 Mëhilli, Elidor, ‘Mao and the Albanians’, in Alexander C. Cook, ed., Mao’s Little Red Book: A Global History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 165184 .

48 Examples include: History of the Party of Labour of Albania (Tirana: Naim Frashëri, 1972); Istoria albanskoi partii truda: 1966–1980 (Tirana: 8 Nëntori, 1981); Histoire du Parti du travail d’Albanie (Tirana: 8 Nëntori, 1982) and Geschichte der Partei der Arbeit Albaniens (Tirana: 8 Nëntori, 1982).

49 For important insights not yet fully developed in Albanian-language historical scholarship, see Vehbiu, Ardian, Sende që nxirrte deti: ese (Tirana: Dudaj, 2013) .

50 Comparative work remains the exception. A recent example: Brisku, Adrian, Bittersweet Europe: Albanian and Georgian Discourses on Europe, 1878–2008 (New York: Berghahn Books, 2013), esp. 108152 .

Thanks to Emily Greble for commissioning this essay and for providing detailed feedback, and to the anonymous reviewer for a sharp reading, which helped me bring discipline to the text. I presented some of these ideas at the conference ‘Mes apatisë dhe nostalgjisë: Kujtesa publike dhe private për komunizmin në Shqipërinë e sotme’, organised by the Institute for Democracy, Media and Culture in Tirana, Albania, in November 2017. Thanks to Idrit Idrizi and Jonila Godole. Research funding was generously provided by the PSC-CUNY Research Awards and the Hunter College Presidential Travel Awards.

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Contemporary European History
  • ISSN: 0960-7773
  • EISSN: 1469-2171
  • URL: /core/journals/contemporary-european-history
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