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Making Sense of Catastrophe: Postcolonial Approaches to Postsocialist Experiences, Cambridge, 23-26 February 2012‏

Moving from adolescence to adulthood, the postsocialist world is
undergoing multi-directional transformations that would have seemed
unbelievable twenty years ago. Bustling economic development combines
with corruption, violence, and cynicism, which reign over the
postsocialist space. Three causal schemes compete to explain this
large-scale process. One derives the postsocialist present from the
legacies of the Soviet past. Another ascribes responsibility to the
global crisis of the traditional West. A third episteme draws on
analogies and contrasts between postsocialist and postcolonial
transformations, both of which have shaped the 21st century as we
experience it.

Writing in 2001 from different hemispheres, David Chioni Moore called
upon a "Global Postcolonial Critique" of the postsocialist world, while
Alexander Etkind speculated about "internal colonization" in Russia's
past and present. Independently, the last decade has seen a booming
development of Memory Studies, which has transferred its focus from its
original subject of the aftermath of the Holocaust to broad conceptions
of "cosmopolitan" (Daniel Levy, Nathan Snyder) and "multi-directional"
memory and "post-memory" (Marianne Hirsch), concepts that have been
applied globally from Latin America to the Pacific.

With this workshop, we intend to consolidate a new research agenda that
combines three independently developed fields, Postcolonial Studies,
Postsocialist Studies, and Memory Studies, in their application to
Eastern Europe and Northern Eurasia. Is the terror in places like Katyn
or Kolyma, as in Auschwitz, unrepresentable, or have art and history
learned how to represent these events? How do we need to revise
postcolonial categories such as orientalism, hegemony, or the subaltern
when referring to places such as Belarus or Kazakhstan? How are people
across the postsocialist world making sense of its serial catastrophes?
What does the memory of the past teach us about power and culture in the
present and in the future?

We invite both theoretical and empirical contributions to these and
related questions. We wish to establish a dialogue between experts who
specialize in different parts of the planet. Interested scholars from
the postcolonial and postsocialist worlds are equally welcome.

Proposals shall consist of an abstract of 300-500 words and a short CV.
Please send your applications to Jill Gather by 1
October 2011. Please also inform us if you wish help with financing your
travel to Cambridge. We will provide participants with accommodation
from 23 to 26 February 2012. The reimbursement for travel expenses will
be negotiated on an individual basis.
Keynote Speaker: Michael Rothberg (University of Illinois)