CFP - University of Oslo: "Trauma, Memory, and Counter-Culture: Borders and Border Transgressions in (Post-)Communist Europe"

CfP – Conference (Oslo): "Trauma, Memory, and Counter-Culture: Borders and
Border Transgressions in (Post-)Communist Europe"

June 1-2, 2023
Department of Literature, Area Studies, and European Languages (ILOS)
University of Oslo (UiO), Norway

Submission Deadline: Dec. 23, 2022

Borders are central to our understanding of societies that are either affected
by unfreedom of speech or traumatized by repressions and war experience. In
the context of the Eastern Bloc, for example, their effects shaped several
levels of society and culture and led, among other things, to individuals and
groups not being able to act or articulate themselves freely. Given that
marginalized groups, as Hannah Arendt has pointed out, are often unable to
actively participate in social and political life, they remain invisible also
in public space and public discourse. In response to imposed constraints,
subversive efforts to overcome, destabilize, and problematize them often go
hand in hand – thus turning members of the respective societies into border
crossers. With the collapse of the Communist Bloc, many borders may have
fallen in territorial and consequently also in symbolical terms. Yet, they
have remained highly topical on the levels of memory and trauma, as they are
an integral part of coming to terms with experiences of terror, repression, or

In the more than 30 years since the disintegration of the Communist Bloc,
culture and society in its respective parts have generated widespread interest
in various fields of the humanities. The multilayered, often overlapping
traumas resulting from as well as the memories of the communist era (e.g.
Hundorova; Jones; Kratochvil; Lachmann; Sandomirskaja; Sorvari, etc.) and the
Yugoslav wars (e.g. Beronja/Vervaet; Jelača; Lugarić/Car, etc.) have therefore
become just as much the subject of research as counter practices which had
formed in response to unfreedom of speech, censorship, and the doctrine of
Socialist Realism (e.g. Giustino et al.; Kliems; Komaromi; Lipovetsky et al.;
Zitzewitz, etc.). These studies do not only contribute to a better
understanding of culture and society under repressive conditions; they also
participate in bringing out of a notorious invisibility those spheres that
were particularly affected by the impossibility of individual articulation and
the lack of social participation.

* * *

This two-day conference at the University of Oslo aims to highlight the
specific relevance of Border Studies for better understanding literature,
arts, and everyday culture in repressive, transformative and post-war
societies. It explores borders and border transgressions in the context of
trauma, memory, and counter-culture (in the sense of unofficial culture) and
thus on the premise of both simultaneity and posteriority. In this regard,
both state-imposed limitations which are consciously drawn and borders
triggered in retrospect or by the subconscious are of interest. Unfreedom of
speech, invisibility and stigmatization are just a few examples of state-
imposed, “simultaneous” constraints which, in turn, on the unconscious level
show equivalents in the incapability of expression, in blind spots, and in
psychological repression.

We want to look at boundaries primarily, but not only, in terms of border
aesthetics (Gómez-Peña; Rosello; Schimanski; Wolfe) and are especially
interested in borders in the fields of literature, arts, and everyday culture
in their sensual, their aesthetic, and their social dimensions. Borders are
therefore conceived beyond their geographical dimension, so that, for example,
symbolical, cultural, societal, epistemological, generational, semiotic,
lingual, temporal, spatial, or medial dimensions are of particular interest.
Given our interdisciplinary scope, we are interested in paper proposals from
literature studies, the arts and cultural studies, as well as from related
fields. We particularly welcome case studies on often still understudied areas
of Central, Eastern, and South-Eastern Europe, as for example Ukraine,
Belarus, Moldova, and the Baltic States.

Paper proposals can, for example, address the following thematic fields:
1)      How are borders negotiated and how are border crossings produced,
represented, or perceived in literary, visual and everyday cultures that arise
from a context of repression, unfreedom of speech, and war experience?
2)      Which approaches and methods towards border and border transgression
can be productively employed with regard to repressive and transformative
societies and the relating traumata, memories, and counter-culture and
implemented in the sense of an interdisciplinary entanglement?
3)      Which divergences, analogies and particularities can be identified in
terms of border crossings in literary, visual and everyday cultures in terms
of production, materiality, representation, and perception?
4)      Case studies dealing with borders and border crossings from the
regions in question.

* * *

The conference will be framed by a keynote on “Border Semiotics and Empire” by
Susanne Frank (Eastern Slavic Literature and Culture, Berlin) and a public
lecture on “The Weapons of the Weak. Silent Protest in Russia” by Vera Dubina
(Public History, Berlin).

The conference language is English. We ask participants to cover their travel
costs. In case of successful additional funding, parts may be reimbursed. If
you wish to apply for reimbursement, please indicate this in your proposal.

Please submit your abstract (300 words) including paper title, your name, your
affiliation, and a short CV (up to 200 words) by December 23, 2022 to
Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by January 12, 2023.

* * *

The conference builds on the MSCA-project “Soviet Ellipses. Omissions as
Techniques of Border Transgression in Photography, Literature, and Everyday
Life” (SOVEL, No 101024131) at UiO.

Vera Faber, “Soviet Ellipses” at UiO;
in cooperation with Johan Schimanski, Border Readings research group at UiO.