THE PLEASURES OF BACKWARDNESS: CONSUMER DESIRE AND MODERNITY IN EASTERN EUROPE.
University of California, Berkeley
April 23-25, 2015
Consumption has recently emerged as a prism through which to view the
cultural and social history of Eastern Europe from an exciting new angle.
Especially in the study of life under state socialism, the emphasis on
consumer practices has led scholars to rethink familiar themes such as
human agency and personal autonomy, the grey zone between official and
unofficial cultures and the relationship between Western capitalist
modernity and the “shortage economies” of the East. Light has also been
shed on the many forms of consumption—smoking, drinking, tourism, music,
sport and much else—that reflect and drive political change in the region.
Whether scrutinizing TV viewing in Czechoslovakia or the enjoyment of
tobacco in Bulgaria, hitchhiking through Poland or Budapest nightlife,
scholars present consumption as an expression of ever…