Culture in Eastern Europe before 1989 meant more than socialist realism and dull propaganda art. An alternative cultural scene flourished despite the controls of socialist regimes, and its diverse practices included non-conformist avant-garde art, civic initiatives for unofficial education and publication, underground punk and rock bands, alternative ways of life and even novel religious practices. COURAGE (“Cultural Opposition – Understanding the CultuRal HeritAGE of Dissent in the Former Socialist Countries”) is the first international research project that tackles this rich and colourful legacy of cultural opposition in the former socialist countries of Eastern Europe by exploring and comparing collections on cultural opposition.
COURAGE is a three-year international research project funded by Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. The project will create the first digital database of both online and offline private and public collections in Europe which testify to the survival of various forms of cultural opposition in the former socialist countries; these collections cover a period from the rise of communist regimes in the region to the fall of the Iron Curtain. COURAGE will further a more nuanced understanding of how these collections work, what functions they serve in their respective societies, and how they represent their holdings and findings to the national and international public. In so doing, the project will help us recognize and acknowledge forms of dissent and preserve these as part of our common European heritage.