Contested documents: A neo-documentalist approach to secret police files in post-communist Romania


This paper is about a certain type of contested documents (the secret police files known as “informative notes”). It employs a neo-documentalist framework and thematic analysis to examine informative notes on four major intellectuals in communist Romania. The paper focuses on three emerging themes: the power effects that the materiality of informative notes has had, after 1989, on Romanian society; the reasons informers interpreted the writing conventions of this textual genre in radically different ways; and the epistemic aspects of this type of document. I emphasize that, despite their nature as historic documents, secret police files have uncanny relevance for understanding the present-day societies of mass surveillance.

Oct 2, 2020 14:00 ET — 14:30 ET
Iulian Vamanu
Iulian Vamanu
School of Library and Information Science, University of Iowa

Iulian Vamanu is an Assistant Professor in Library and Information Science (University of Iowa). He has been publishing scholarship on cultural heritage and Indigenous museum curatorship, reading practices, Information Ethics education, information evaluation in post-truth times, and the rhetoric of information.