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CfP: “Decades of Asynchrony. Europe & Central Asia and the Dissolution of the Soviet Union”, University of Pittsburgh


University of Pittsburgh

Graduate Organization for the Study of Europe and Central Asia & Center for Russian and East European Studies present:

Decades of Asynchrony: Europe & Central Asia and the Dissolution of the Soviet Union

Eighth Annual Graduate Student Conference

February 25-26, 2011

2011 will mark the 20th anniversary of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. On 25 December 1991, in the midst of intrigues and political struggles Mikhail Gorbachev stepped down as General Secretary of the Communist Party. This event made official a change that leaders of several Republics – foremost Russia, Ukraine and Belarus – had already agreed upon: the dissolution of the USSR and the formation of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Only a few days prior to Gorbachev’s resignation the Soviet Republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan as well as Georgia had joined this movement.

Two years earlier, former Eastern European socialist states had already begun the transition to “democracy” and “market economy.” The year 2009 witnessed splendid and highly orchestrated twentieth anniversary celebrations of the end of state socialism in Eastern Europe. These predominantly Eurocentric celebrations tended to reduce the complexity of the change of regimes in Europe and subsequent developments in Central Asia and Russia to a near-teleological “return to the West.”. Such dissociation, at once deliberate and unconscious, falls short of acknowledging the interdependencies and complexities of the societies and cultures of Eurasia. This conference seeks to reverse the artificial separation of the European theatre from the later developments in the Soviet Union, and Central Asia in particular.

The 2009 commemorations of “1989” represent a longstanding estrangement of eastern Europe, the U.S.S.R., and Central Asia in the perceptions both of academia and the public at large. The overemphasis on 1989 willfully separates the interrelated, simultaneous processes in the Soviet Union and Central Asia, which “only” occurred in 1991. We wish to rethink this disjuncture not along the lines of “progress” or “backwardness,” but through “asynchrony”: a concept which rejects linear and normative ideas of development, and which refuses to see temporal differences as innate retardation. The Graduate Organization for the Study of Europe and Central Asia (GOSECA) of the University of Pittsburgh has committed its eighth annual conference to scholarship which seeks to improve our understanding of the asynchrony of this momentous process.

We strongly encourage submissions from the widest range of disciplines in the social sciences and humanities, and are particularly looking for comparative approaches to Europe and/ or Central Asia and across time. Submissions may focus on any time period, but they should be broadly relatable to the 20th anniversary of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. They may include:

· social reordering and cultural disruptions: new personal and collective identities; the new face of old “Others”

· “democratization”: expectations and realizations of the role of government and its obligations

· economic disruptions; globalization integration of economies; distribution of resources formerly owned or controlled by the state

· the development of new, and reconfiguration of old, political institutions; the structuring of social institutions both formal and informal

· responses in literature, the arts, music, and “popular” culture

· the renegotiation of rights and freedoms: social crises and violent conflicts; the development of legal institutions and legal controversies

· demography and migration

· geopolitical concerns; state actors and international organizations; the conceptualization of new sovereignties

· public and personal health

· work and leisure

· environment: pollution, protection, and exploitation

Students currently enrolled in graduate programs are welcome to submit abstracts along with an academic CV to no later than December 15, 2010. We will contact the authors of accepted abstracts by January 1, 2011.

Submission Requirements

Abstracts should consist of a 250 word, double-spaced, 12 point font description of the project. All submissions must be in PDF (preferred) or Microsoft Word format. In order to ensure anonymity during the blind selection process, the body of the abstract should not contain the author’s or authors’ name(s) or other personal identifying information other than the title of the paper. The cover page must include: title of submission, author’s or authors’ name(s), institutional and departmental affiliation(s), e-mail address(es), mailing address(es), and a primary phone number. Although we require all of this information, correspondence will occur mainly via e-mail. An academic CV must also be submitted, but please limit these to two pages.

Paper Requirements

In order to facilitate presentation time limits, and to ensure time for active discussions, paper length will be limited to 8 typed pages, double-spaced, with 12-point font. All accepted participants will be required to submit a copy of the final paper one month prior to the conference.

Registration Requirements

To better promote a meaningful interdisciplinary exchange, participants are expected to attend all panels for the duration of the conference.

Although we cannot provide travel support, we will be happy to arrange housing for the duration of the conference with graduate students.

The registration fee is $25, which includes meals. Registration fee must be paid by cash or check at registration on February 25, 2011.

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