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Главная » 2013 » Ноябрь » 10 » «Paradise Found, or Paradise Lost? / Nostalgia, Culture and Identity in Central and Eastern Europe» (Paris, 29-30 May 2014)
«Paradise Found, or Paradise Lost? / Nostalgia, Culture and Identity in Central and Eastern Europe» (Paris, 29-30 May 2014)

Paradise Found, or Paradise Lost? Nostalgia, Culture and Identity in Central and Eastern Europe”

May 29-30, 2014


24th Conference of the British-­‐French Association for the Study of Russian Culture /
Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense

Salle des Conférences, Bâtiment B

Organised by / Organisateurs : Dr Graham ROBERTS and Dr Anna LOUYEST
(Centre de Recherches Pluridiscilplinaires Multilingues, EA 4481, http://crpm.u-paris10.fr)

The end of Communism in the USSR and its satellite states produced a wave of collective euphoria that had not been seen in Europe since May 1945. Nowhere was this feeling stronger than in the former socialist countries themselves, where many felt that normal service had, as it were, been resumed.  As former Czech dissident Vaclav Havel put it at the time, ‘after decades of following the wrong track, we are yearning to rejoin the road which was one ours too.’   Signs that  things  were  ‘returning  to  normal’  were  everywhere:  West  Germans  received  their  Ossi neighbours  back  into  the  fold  by  giving  each  of  them  100  West-­‐deutschmarks  as  so-­‐called
‘welcome money’; Hungarians could once again sit alongside their Austrian cousins and thrill to La Traviata  at the Vienna  Opera;  and Muscovites  finally  got to taste their first Big Mac. The Socialist   dream  had  been  cancelled,   but  in  its  place  there  was  to  be  another   utopia,  a consumerist paradise, buttressed by liberal democracy at home, and lasting peace abroad.

Barely  two  decades  later,  there  is,  to  paraphrase  Marx  and  Engels,  a  new  spectre haunting  Central  and  Eastern  Europe  –  the  spectre  of  nostalgia.    Perhaps  this  should  not surprise us. As Svetlana Boym recently put it, in her book The Future of Nostalgia, ‘nostalgia inevitably  appears  as  a  defense  mechanism   in  a  time  of  accelerated   rhythms  of  life  and historical upheavals.’ At one time this feeling was limited to émigrés fondly reminiscing about their distant mother country. Now, however, it also appears to touch those who live where they always have, but whose homeland no longer officially exists.

This new nostalgia takes an astonishingly wide variety of forms. These include the popularity among Berlin shoppers of the Ostpaket (East German products in their original packaging), the reaffirmation of stereotypical gender roles in Russian ‘glamour culture’, the rise of nationalism  in countries such as Hungary and the Czech Republic, and the rehabilitation  of long-­‐forgotten artists or literary genres.   This tendency to look at the past through rose-­‐tinted spectacles  can  also  be  seen  in  numerous  published  collections  of  Soviet  photographs  of  the 1970s (Optimizm pamjati, Leningrad 70-­‐x), or on countless social media sites, both institutional and  personal.    While  in  the  main,  Oushakine  (2007)  is  right  to  argue  that  this  new  kind  of nostalgia does not aim at political restoration, there is often an important political subtext.

This conference aims to explore the many different forms nostalgia has taken in Central and Eastern Europe since in the last twenty years. Among the questions  to be addressed  are: What are the distinctive forms of nostalgia in the region? Where does this nostalgia come from? What  purpose(s)  does  it serve?  What,  if any,  is its  political  agenda?  Is nostalgia  primarily  a yearning for or a rejection of something? Whose nostalgia is it anyway? What is the relationship between  nostalgia  and kitsch?   And how seriously  does this nostalgia  take itself?  Papers  are invited  from  scholars  working  in  a  broad  range  of  disciplines,  including  Slavonic  and  East European  Studies, politics, economics,  anthropology,  law, business  studies, linguistics,  history and comparative literature.

Proposals,  in the form of a 250-­‐word  abstract and a short cv, should be sent BY 31 JANUARY
2014      AT      THE      LATEST,      to      BOTH      organisers,      at: groberts@u-paris10.fr  and anna.akimova@yahoo.fr      Abstracts   may   be   in   any   of   the   three   official   language   of   the conference, English, French or Russian.

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