International Conference
11 Nov 2021 – 12 Nov 2021

Beyond Nostalgia. New Appropriations of Late Socialism in Contemporary Eastern European Cultures

Venue: Leibniz-Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung, Schützenstr. 18, 10117 Berlin, Aufgang B, 3. Etage
Organized by Riccardo Nicolosi (LMU München), Matthias Schwartz (ZfL)
Research project(s): World Fiction, Post/Socialist

Conference by the Section “Literary and Cultural Studies” of the DGO (German Association for East European Studies)

The first post-socialist decades oscillated between a critical confrontation with the socialist past and a diffuse nostalgia for a lost stability. In recent times, this has changed. In many areas of Eastern European literature and culture, an artistic and discursive reappropriation has increasingly been observed, especially in relation to the late socialist period which is strongly influenced by media, popular culture, and identity politics. If Boris Groys characterizes the post-communist situation as a way back from a post-national future into the nation-state present, then today, after years of neoliberal transformation and in view of a present that has become “broad” (Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht), the time before 1989 is seemingly being rediscovered as a space of missed opportunities, when the future was still an open one. In television series aimed at a broad audience, autobiographically influenced family novels, advanced motion pictures as well as by nationalist or religious countercultures and revanchist cultural politicians, the last decades of actually existing socialism are reconstructed as an increasingly fictionalized playground in which previous certainties are being revised. From a comparative perspective, the conference will ask the following questions: What are these moments of fascination based on, and in which media and artistic formats are such shifts expressed in particular? These research questions also include fundamental cultural theoretical reflections with regard to a possible end of the “era of imitation” (Ivan Krastev/Stephen Holmes).


Fig. above: The Tsoi Wall (Fans at the memorial wall to Viktor Tsoi (1962–1990), frontman of the band Kino, at the intersection of Arbat and Krivoarbatsky Lane in Moscow [detail]), © reibai, license: CC BY 2.0.


Thursday, 11 Nov 2021


  • Welcome and opening


  • Magdalena Marszałek (University of Potsdam): Von Leibeigenen, Bystanders und Menschen: Neuverhandlungen der bäuerlichen Geschichte der polnischen Volksrepublik nach 2000
  • Nina Weller (European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder)): Mythos der Jugend under deconstruction: Zur Neuaneignung der 1980er Jahre in russ. Film und Literatur der 2000er


  • Zaal Andronikashvili (ZfL): Alles war besser als Bolschewisten! – Lichte Vergangenheit und Dunkle Zukunft in der georgischen Gegenwartsliteratur
  • Jeanette Fabian (LMU München): “Eigentlich gibt es Osteuropa gar nicht.” Karel Cudlíns und Jáchym Topols Foto-Geschichten über die (Un)Lust, Osteuropäer zu sein


Friday, 12 Nov 2021


  • Barbara Wurm (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin): The Vanished Empire Strikes Back. Der Spätsozialismus im postsowjetischen Film
  • Roman Dubasevych (University of Greifswald): Reconstructions of Soviet Rock Underground in Contemporary Russian Cinema


  • Otto Boele (Universiteit Leiden): Near-Disasters and “Russkii avos’.” Imagining Soviet “Backwardness” in Recent Russian Cinema


  • Anna Förster (University of Erfurt): Kitsch und Kulturkampf. Wie die US-amerikanische Rechte ostmitteleuropäische Dissidenten für sich entdeckt
  • Boris Buden (Bauhaus-Universität Weimar): Is There a Society After Socialism?

16.30 Keynote lecture (via Zoom)

  • Mark Lipovetsky (Columbia University): Better than Nostalgia: Late Socialism in Recent TV series


Media Response

31 Dec 2022
Jenseits der Nostalgie

Conference report by Philipp Kohl, in: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie 176.4 (2022), 425–433 (in Russian)

10 Dec 2021
Jenseits der Nostalgie. Neuaneignungen des Spätsozialismus in osteuropäischen Gegenwartskulturen

Conference report by Philipp Kohl, in: H-Soz-Kult, 10 Dec 2021


Riccardo Nicolosi, Matthias Schwartz (ed./eds.)

Jenseits der Nostalgie? Neuaneignungen des Spätsozialismus in osteuropäischen Gegenwartskulturen
Themenschwerpunkt des Wiener Slawistischen Almanachs

Vol. 90 (2023)
Peter Lang, Berlin 2024, 118 pages
ISBN 978-3-631-91729-9