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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Absurdistan is a term sometimes used to satirically describe a country in which absurdity is the norm, especially in its public authorities and government. The expression was originally used by Eastern bloc dissidents to refer to parts (or all) of the Soviet Union and its satellite states. Today, the term is most often reserved for Russia and states formerly in the Soviet sphere of influence which have retained Soviet-style authoritarian governments, such as Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Belarus, Bulgaria or Slovakia.

The first printed use of the word, in any language, can be found in the German monthly edition Politische Studien: Monatshefte der Hochschule für politische Wissenschaften, München, veröffentlicht vom Isar-Verlag. (1971) : "... erkennen wir, dass wir uns hier in Absurdistan bewegen." (Political Studies: Monthly of the University for political Studies, Munich, published by Isar-Verlag (1971) (free translation): ... we recognize, that we are here venturing on Absurdistan territory.) Later, in Czech (Absurdistán), the term was often used by the dissident and later president Václav Havel. This seems to indicate that use of the term began during perestroika. The first recorded printed use of the term in English was in Spectator in an article on August 26, 1989, about Czechoslovakia (Czechoslovakians have taken to calling their country "Absurdistan" because everyday life there has long resembled the "Theatre of the Absurd".) On September 18, 1989, there was an article in The Nation (New York) called Prague Summer of '89: Journey to Absurdistan. On August 30, 1990, The New York Times used it in an article about the Soviet Union., and January 18, 1990, The Village Voice article by Bonnie Sue Stein and Vit Horejs called THE NEW KING OF ABSURDISTAN, an interview with Vaclav Havel.

Other uses

After its original reference to countries like Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and others ending in -stan in ironical use for the collapsing Eastern bloc, the term was extended to other countries. The term has been used in several titles of movies, books, and articles:

  • The German comic book Abenteuer in Absurdistan mit Micky Maus (Germany 1993, volume 189 of the comic series "Walt Disneys Lustiges Taschenbuch).
  • Welcome to Absurdistan: Ukraine, the Soviet Disunion and the West by Lubomyr Luciuc, 1994 (ISBN 096941255X).
  • Hazám, Abszurdisztán (Absurdistan, my Home) is a book by Lajos Grendel, Bratislava, 1998 (ISBN 807149206X).
  • Geboren in Absurdistan, 1999 Austrian movie.
  • The album Absurdistan by Romanian artist Ada Milea (2002)

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Absurdistan" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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