CFP: Recollecting (hi)stories: post-communist cultural and memorial practices in Balkan film

Deadline coming up soon …

Proposed Thematic Panel for European Network for Cinema and Media Studies (NECS) 2016: “In/Between: Cultures of Connectivity” conference (http://necs.org)

“Recollecting (hi)stories: post-communist cultural and memorial practices in Balkan film”

Geopolitical reconfigurations during the 1990s, with the end of the Cold War, the breakdown of the Soviet Union and the period of transitions from one system into another have led to persisting questions of identity and nationhood for the Balkan region. Considering that the processes of memory consist of instances of both remembering and forgetting, films can reconstruct a period in the history of a society by bringing together accounts of collective memory, in a way that is conducive to debates about the conditions of the present, rather than remaining in a vacuum of the past.

Svetlana Boym and Maria Todorova investigate the post-communist Eastern European societies’ renegotiation of their communist pasts in the wake of the present situation in their work on post-socialist nostalgia. Under these circumstances nostalgia, as a way of recovering time (Boym), becomes a key process of memory and one which functions against what Andreas Huyssen has termed as a culture which is ‘terminally ill with amnesia’ (1995). According to Todorova post-communist nostalgia is generated by ‘elements of disappointment, social exhaustion, economic recategorization, generational fatigue, and quest for dignity, but also an activist critique of the present using the past as a mirror and irony alongside a purely consumerist aesthetics’ (2010, 7). Furthermore, society modifies recollections according to its present needs, representing ‘the past to itself in different ways’ (Maurice Halbwachs, 1994). Collective memory is necessary for the formation of collective identity. Thus recherche rather than recuperation becomes the principle mode of memory: the post-socialist identity is explored through multiple media forms and cultural practices, from the personal sphere (sharing images, text and music on social media sites) to collective and social memory. In order to remember, our hopelessly forgetful modern societies need ‘sites of memory’ (Pierre Nora), which can manifest themselves in many ways, through images, songs, books and monuments.

This panel seeks to explore how the present national identities are negotiated by revisiting the past through recollection of its traces in contemporary films (fiction, documentary, animation, experimental), both in a metaphorical and physical sense, and how in reading these media as locus of memory we can understand the changes in the region as a continuation rather than a historical rupture.

We invite proposals exploring the above topic in contemporary fiction, documentary, experimental and/or animation films from the Balkan region.

If you are interested in proposing a paper for this panel, please send 150 word abstracts to Dr. Raluca Iacob (raluca.s.iacob@outlook.com) and Ana Grgic (ag219@st-andrews.ac.uk) by 15th January 2016.

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