During 129 days in 1948, 1949, and until his arrest and disappearance in 1950, agents of the Securitate – the Socialist Republic of Romania’s secret police – were charged with the surveillance of the sociologist Anton Golopentia. They followed his movements meticulously:
“If he took the tram, someone would poke and prod whatever he was carrying. If he mailed a letter, the post box would be opened and the letter extracted. If he went to the cinema, the shadower on duty would sit down close to him, ready to report on his actions.”
His actions, aside from being monitored, were also documented. Jotting down all that they could observe and overhear, the Securitate kept comprehensive reports on Golopentia’s actions. These reports began to include the lives of the sociologist’s family, including that of his daughter, Sanda.
Years later, after a distinguished career in academia, Sanda Golopentia – now Professor Emerita at Brown University – has unearthed, collated and analysed these documents in her new book: Surveillance and Memory: Our Daily Lives. A fascinating artefact of a particular era, the work also interweaves some of Golopentia’s declarations later on, while investigated as a detained witness, as well as her personal memories of the period.
The book provides insights into post-WWII Eastern European history, particularly the beginning of the communist regime and political repression in Romania, and will be useful to researchers (historians, psychologists, anthropologists, and literary specialists), as well as professors and students in universities and schools.
Sanda Golopentia is Professor Emerita of French Studies at Brown University, where she has taught since 1981. She has published 43 books on the subject of literary pragmatics (mostly analysing French novels and plays of the twentieth century), cultural semiotics, Romanian anthropology and sociology, as well as literary essays and short prose volumes.
Her publications include Les voies de la pragmatique (1988); Voir les didascalies (1994); Les propos spectacle (1996); Desire Machines: A Romanian Love-Charms Database (1998); Chemarea mâinilor negative (2002); Emigranţii Carter (2008); Româna globală (2009); and Hacia una nueva interpretación de las didascalías (2010), as well as around 300 studies and essays.