Call for Papers
BETWEEN HISTORY AND PAST: SOVIET LEGACY AS THE TRAUMATIC OBJECT OF
CONTEMPORARY RUSSIAN CULTURE
Workshop at the University of Sheffield (UK), 30-31 October 2010
The workshop will address the relationship between contemporary Russian
culture and Russia’s Soviet past, the relationship characterized by profound
ambiguity. Almost two decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union Russian
society and culture is increasingly dependent on its Soviet heritage, which
is upheld and rejected, often simultaneously, in practically all fields of
symbolic production, from state ideology to architecture, from elitist
literature to mass culture. The aim of the workshop is to navigate the array
of discourses in order to trace the ways in which Soviet past functions not
as a self-contained object, however complex and ambiguous, but rather as a
space of projections, displacements and symbolizations, as a symptom whose
affective charge betrays the urgency of its underlying problematic.
The main impetus behind the workshop is to look at the Soviet past through
the traumatic contradictions of the present. Contemporary Russian culture is
suspended between the unstable historical narrative of the new nation’s
emergence from the ruins of the USSR and the legacy of Soviet culture, whose
models, revolutionary or Stalinist, no longer work. The resultant
impossibility of symbolic structuration creates a tangible traumatic void at
the core of contemporary Russian culture which its subjects try to fill with
their inconsistent, emotional, and ideologically charged interventions.
Whether praised or vilified, likened to the present of contrasted with it,
the Soviet past is influenced by Russia’s current predicament in no lesser
degree than it itself influences Russia’s present.
We invite papers from an open variety of disciplines that will be neither
purely historical (i.e., tracing the actual historical transformation of
Soviet culture into contemporary Russian one) nor purely immanent (i.e.,
approaching the Soviet past as a fantasmatic image pertaining to the Russian
present) but rather address the gap between historical genealogies and
immanent perceptions, the gap conditioned by the traumatic impossibility to
merge narratives of Russian history and the fantasmatic visions of the
The workshop will be coordinated with Russian Aviation and Space: Technology
and Cultural Imagination workshop that will be held at the University of
Leeds, UK, on 29 October 2010 (for more details please visit
http://aviation.vladstrukov.com/). Sheffield and Leeds are within a short
train ride from each other.
Please, send your abstracts /300 words/ accompanied by a CV to the workshop
organizers, Evgeny Dobrenko and Andrey Shcherbenok, at firstname.lastname@example.org
by 1 June 2010.