|dc.description.abstract||In the last ten years of the socialist regime, Romanians lived in a state of general crisis. Everyday life was marked by fear, poverty and cutting all ties with the free world. The energy rationalizing program, initiated by Nicolae Ceauşescu in the 1980s, and the need of Romanian
Communist Party to control everything aired on TV led to cutting the program of the Romanian television to two hours daily. The legitimate reaction of the people was to develop strategies of satиsfying their need for information, entertainment and culture, outside the system. Thus,
half of Romania was watching video tapes smuggled from Western Europe, while the other half, close to state borders, was watching television programs of neighbouring countries. Romanians born before 1980 know this from personal experience. Romanians born after 1980 have listened, watched or read about it. For Serbs and former Yugoslavs, these are unknown facts. This collection of interviews is meant mainly for readers from the former Yugoslav republics, so that they can find out what a huge role Yugoslav television played in raising awareness of the free world for the Romanians from Banat, and not only, in the 1980s.
As the Banat was the closest to Yugoslavia, people “on this side of the border” were watching mesmerized Yugoslav TV, when the Romanian state television was offering only two hours of propaganda daily. The TV screen became a window into a more beautiful, freer world. The television of the neighbours helped them pierce the Iron Curtain between secluded Romania and the rest of Europe. Thus, Yugoslavia has long stood for the idyllic image of the promised land, the West in a nutshell.
Today, after almost 30 years, this image is still alive. All my interlocutors have enthusiastically talked about their growing up with Yugoslavia and Yugoslav TV, while offering a sharp critique on the Romanian society of the 1980s. This book is dedicated to my wonderful interlocutors.
The volume consists of three parts. The first part provides a brief historical overview of the Romanian socialist regime, with a special emphasis on the last years of Ceauşescu’s rule, when the country was marked by an acute crisis of economy and society. In the 1980s, Romanian state television became one of the most absurd mass-media institutions in Europe, losing all its roles, except for propaganda. Next, I talk about the phenomenon of watching foreign TV programs in the border areas of Europe, in the second half of the last century, to focus on watching Yugoslav TV in Western Romania. I also show how watching Yugoslav TV helped people learn Serbian and shaped their view on life, presenting my 2011 linguistic research, during which most interviews of the book were recorded.
The second, and largest, part contains the transcription of 11 interviews, translated from Romanian into Serbian. The interviews were recorded in Timişoara between 2011 and 2014 (with two exceptions, which were sent by e-mail in the same period), with the original goal
of studying the circumstances in which the subjects learned the Serbian language. Besides their importance in clarifying the context of learning Serbian, the narratives of my interlocutors contain fragments of oral history with illustrative depictions of everyday life on the western frontier of socialist Romania.
The third part is an annex with contains the language test the interlocutors solved during the 2011 linguistic research, and their answers. The answers show a high comprehensive and communicative competence, in spite of more than two decades which have passed since
their exposure to Serbian.
When my respondents talk about learning Serbian by watching Yugoslav TV during their childhood and adolescence, their critical attitude towards the Romanian communist regime is coupled with an admiration for socialist Yugoslavia and its system of values, which has lately
been labelled Yugonostalgia. Yugonostalgia most strongly manifests itself among inhabitants of former Yugoslavia, many of whom have left the Federation after its breakup, at the beginning of the 1990s. Paradoxically, many Banat Romanians are also Yugonostalgic, more precisely, they are nostalgically and emotionally tied to the image of a liberal and lenient Yugoslav regime, idealized for economic security, multiculturalism and a better standard of living. By making the interlocutors plunge into and examine their own past, the interviews had a therapeutic effect on them, helping them come to terms with the collective past, marked
by a great historical shift.||sr