Beyond Nostalgia. New Appropriations of Late Socialism in Contemporary Eastern European Cultures
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).
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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.
Mark Lipovetsky (Columbia U): Better than Nostalgia: Late Socialism in Recent TV series