The 2014 Convention of The Association for Slavic, East European, & Eurasian Studies

The 2014 Convention of The Association for Slavic, East European, & Eurasian Studies

The history of Eurasia and Eastern Europe has been marked by periods of revolutionary change that seemed to contemporaries to herald the dawn of an entirely new era, but that in retrospect did not disrupt deeper institutional, social, and cultural continuities between past and present. 

The ASEEES Convention, San Antonio (Texas, USA)
November 20-23, 2014

The theme of the 2014 annual convention is: "25 Years After the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Historical Legacies and New Beginnings."

The history of Eurasia and Eastern Europe has been marked by periods of revolutionary change that seemed to contemporaries to herald the dawn of an entirely new era, but that in retrospect did not disrupt deeper institutional, social, and cultural continuities between past and present. A quarter century after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe—at a time when earlier dreams of the full-scale consolidation of market democracies across the whole of the former Soviet bloc have given way to a more sober assessment of the future of democracy and capitalism in Europe and Eurasia alike—it seems appropriate again to assess the balance of continuity and change in various parts of the region we study.

Such reflection prompts a series of interconnected intellectual questions. To what extent do historical "structures" in Eurasia and Eastern Europe constrain the ability of "agents" to reshape past institutions and practices and forge a qualitatively new future? How far back should we trace the influence of historical legacies in the region—to the communist era, to the rule of pre-communist empires, or to even earlier periods? How do debates about historical legacies and new beginnings in the geographic space once dominated by Marxist-Leninist regimes shape the way we think about the contentious definition of our region? And how do these debates play out differently, and generate different insights, in the diverse academic disciplines that make up our scholarly community?

The Association of Slavic, Eurasian, and East European Studies invites papers and panel proposals related to the themes discussed above, understood in the broadest possible sense. Topics could include, but are not limited to, debates about the reasons for and consequences of the collapse of the Soviet bloc in light of the first 25 years of post-communism; explaining and assessing the impact of "Leninist" and "pre-Leninist" historical legacies; investigating the nature of political, economic, and cultural innovation in Eurasia and East Europe, past and present; charting and understanding the changing geographies of "Eurasia" and "Europe"; and reassessing the nature of historical and social agency in the pre-Leninist, Leninist, and post-Leninist contexts.



Some interesting panel summaries:

Postsocialist Publics and Counterpublics I: Disengagement and Radicalism
Postsocialist Publics and Counterpublics II: Challenges to Western Democracy
Postsocialist Publics and Counterpublics III: The Everyday Life of Discourse

This series of panels aims to bring together scholars from across the Humanities and the Social Sciences to explore the making of collective identities in Eastern Europe and Russia twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Looking at different forms of social interaction, cultural production and political activity – such as meetings, performances, works of art, literature and film, and other forms of public speech in mass and social media – we intend to prompt a discussion on the way in which the creation of “imagined communities” broadly conceived has affected the shaping of public life in postsocialist societies. Avoiding teleological narratives of transition to democracy, and normative notions of the “public sphere” based on the accounts of Euro-American social imaginaries, the work presented will investigate the creative and positive discourses of belonging involved in the making of postsocialist publics and counterpublics. In so doing, this series will be an opportunity to consider new methods for theorizing modes of political participation that arise out of the interaction of social groups with large-scale regimes of value and circulation. The first panel in this series will examine disengagement and radicalism as fundamental features of post-Soviet politics. Focusing on the crisis of journalism, the apolitical stance of the Russian intelligentsia, and the making of post-Soviet countercultures during the 1990s, the papers will retrace the cultural roots of contemporary Russian political life.


Conceptual Art in Eastern Europe Before and After the Wall I: Moscow Conceptualism

On the eve of the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the Eastern Bloc was home to a vigorous and sophisticated conceptual and performance art milieu. Working alone or in loose groups and circles, these artists developed conceptual and performance strategies as a means of reflecting and commenting on the reality around them, in the process finding ways to create communal spaces of freedom and circumventing the mechanisms of state control and patronage. Because the conditions of life under socialism played such a central role in structuring the artists’ aesthetics and modes of working, the events of 1989-1991 have frequently been seen as a historical rupture which ended an era and led artists and their art to change dramatically, as well. 25 years later, however, the impact of the fall of the wall on art and artists in the region seems more complex: conceptualism has lived on as at least a powerful legacy while the post-socialist practices of many former Soviet-Bloc conceptualists reveal as much continuity as division. This panel, the first in a sequence of two related panels, will consider the case of Moscow Conceptualism by examining the work of its founding members before and after 1989, considering the legacy of conceptualism in the work of artists who came of age during the collapse of the Soviet Union, and proposing theoretical frameworks that account for both continuity and change during the transition to post-socialism.

Conceptual Art in Eastern Europe Before and After the Wall II: East-Central Europe and Yugoslavia

The second in a two-part series, this panel will examine the impact that the fall of the Berlin Wall had on conceptual and related performance art practices that abounded in the Warsaw Pact countries and former Yugoslavia prior to 1989. Just as the first panel, it will examine the oeuvres of artists whose careers span socialism and post-socialism and will ask what changed about their artistic practices and what stayed the same. Thinking historiographically, the panel will also examine how 1989 – followed as it was by the the opening up of national borders, the extensive reevaluation of national histories, and the reconsideration of Eastern Europe’s regional identity – has made possible a new understanding of the regional character of Eastern European conceptual art and new ways of writing its history which were not possible when the Eastern Bloc actually existed.

Search the conference program on your own: http://www.aseees.org/convention/program