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Counterculture in Czechoslovakia: the Emergence of the Underground and its Impact on Social and Political Life (1968–1978)

Student: Anna Kukatova

Supervisor: Martin Beisswenger

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities

Educational Programme: History (Bachelor)

Year of Graduation: 2016

In the second half of the 20th century rock music became a widespread phenomenon. These new musical influences also reached the countries of the Soviet Bloc, although there the rock music culture differed significantly from the one in Western Europe and the USA. The present study examines the underground music culture in Czechoslovakia and the psychedelic rock band The Plastic People of the Universe during the years 1968-1978. The Czechoslovak underground emerged in reaction to the restrictive cultural policy of the Socialist government. In today’s popular culture as well as in the historiography the prevailing view assumes that the Plastic People of the Universe and the trial around the band in 1976 became one of the catalysts for the emergence of the human rights movement of the Charter 77. This study argues, however, that despite the image of the underground as the helpless victims of the communist regime, the relationship between the underground and the government cannot be described within a model of confrontation only. An analysis of the group's history and its role in social and political life will help to reveal the underground as a more complex and unique cultural phenomenon emerging in Czechoslovakia during the 1970s.

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