Performative Contradiction and Revolution: Reconsidering Romania

Bogdan, Jolan. 2015. Performative Contradiction and Revolution: Reconsidering Romania. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis discusses the Romanian Revolution of 1989 through the critiques of its authenticity that have emerged in the field of critical theory over the past twenty-five years. It applies a different theoretical model for interpretation, that of performative contradiction, and reconsiders accusations of inauthenticity through this lens. By introducing this new model, the objective is to liberate this specific political event, and also political events at large, from the burden of authenticity, which amounts to an expectation of adherence to a specific form of identity politics. The end of the Cold War is commemorated and reflected upon alongside, and with as much frequency as, references to the demise of Communism, yet political realities continue to trouble these declarations. For example, the recent annexation of Crimea has once again brought Cold War tensions back into view, and demonstrates that the conflict is perhaps not so easily diagnosable, and its death not quite as finite, as the fall of the Berlin Wall promised. This perpetually returning specter demands further analysis, without which the risk of repetition and escalation increases. In the interrogation of the specific case of the Romanian Revolution of 1989, there is no scholarly work devoted to a thorough reading of the events through a critical lens such as this. All the theoretical work discussing this example is preoccupied with a notion of authenticity, and discusses the revolution exclusively in terms of coups, simulacra, falsifications, and thefts. As the only one of the Easter Bloc nations to violently execute the former head of state, this event remains vexing and resistant to interpretation for many scholars. It is precisely this resistance that calls for a new interpretive model. The application of performative contradiction in this thesis provides a new vocabulary through which to discuss political movements in general, particularly those that appear compromised, at odds with themselves, or otherwise fractured.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

Additional Information:

Printed thesis available for reference in Goldsmiths Library from 1st July 2017.


Romania, revolution, Cold War, performative contradiction, continental philosophy, Derrida, Freud, Walter Benjamin, Judith Butler, Spinoza, Alain Badiou, Jean Baudrillard, Bernard Stiegler, Agamben, abortion, media, television, Ceausescu, Citizens United, Iraq War, Saddam Hussein, North Korea, Revolutions of 1989, communism, death of communism, critiques of Marx, Communist Manifesto, nonviolence, Henry David Thoreau, passive resistance, nonviolent resistance, general strike, democracy, dictatorship, totalitarianism, capitalism, socialism

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures


30 June 2015

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

19 Dec 2016 17:40

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:12


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