CFP: Socialist Culture Recycled (Eastern Europe: from Disillusions to Nostalgia and Beyond)

CFP: Socialist Culture Recycled (Eastern Europe: from Disillusions to Nostalgia and Beyond)
St. Petersburg, The Institute of Russian Literature of Russian Academy of Sciences (Pushkin House)
Online, June 25–27, 2021
Deadline: 20 January 2021

The popularity of Soviet ‘retro-culture’ in post-Soviet society is a passionately debated topic in current studies addressing the situation in Russia of the 1990s – 2010s. But equally impressive is the fact that a comparable fascination with the socialist past is observed even in those European countries that had the socialist order imposed upon them immediately before or after World War II.

In the specialist literature, which grows ever larger, such admiration is typically interpreted in terms of revanchism, trauma or nostalgia (Boym 2001, Cooke 2005, Oushakine 2009, Rezanova 2011, Todorova and Gille 2012, Etkind 2013, Pehe 2016). We believe, however, that these well-established approaches are not able to exhaust the problem. Indeed, their very familiarity can produce predictable outcomes.

The aim of the proposed conference is to provide a fresh view of the socialist retrotopia. To do this, we suggest the idea of cultural recycling (Moser 1993, Brian and Villeneuve 2002, Dika 2003, Klucinskas and Moser 2004, Kalaga and Kubisz 2008, Kendall and Koster 2007, Chardin 2012) as an alternative starting point for its exploration. Despite the fact that, in general, cultural recycling is a widespread metaphor with a more than half-century-long history, it is used very limitedly in post-socialist studies, at least in Russia (Vasilyeva 2013, Luehrmann 2005, Dobrenko 2015). Nevertheless, there are perhaps at least two self-evident benefits from addressing it. First, this is an umbrella concept which covers a variety of methods, including the above-mentioned revanchism, trauma and nostalgia studies. Second, it places a strong accent on the migration of cultural (political, ideological, aesthetical, moral, etc.) values, with time, from the centre to the periphery of public attention, to oblivion, and, after a certain period, back in the other direction. The latter is exactly what has happened with socialist heritage in the last three decades.

The widest spectrum of cultural practices (from arts such as literature, theatre, cinema, music, painting, architecture to the aesthetics of everyday life) in their relation to the idea of recycling are expected to be discussed at the conference.

We especially encourage participation from specialists from Eastern Europe who wish to focus on the situation with ‘legacy culture’ of this kind in their home countries; their contribution the joint discussion of the observed strategies of re-utilisation of the past will be particularly valuable.

Topics for submission include but are not limited to

– cultural recycling of socialist art heritage (literature, cinema, theatre, music, painting, sculpture, architecture, etc.);
– cultural recycling as an ideological and political instrument;
– retro-culture and new media technologies (innovations in video- and audio technologies, cable television,  the Internet);
– the Soviet past for sale: recycling and marketing;
– re-utilisation of the Soviet heritage from the perspective of poetics, narratology, memory studies, trauma studies, nostalgia studies, cultural trash studies, etc.

We invite proposals for presentations of 20-minute duration.
The working language of the conference is English.
Due to COVID-19, the conference will be held virtually.
Please, submit an abstract (up to 300 words) and short bio (up to 100 words) by January 20, 2021 to scr.conference@gmail.com.
Notifications of acceptance will be sent no later than February 10, 2021.

Organizing committee

Contact Info: Valery Vyugin valeryvyugin@gmail.com

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