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CfP: THE PLEASURES OF BACKWARDNESS: CONSUMER DESIRE AND MODERNITY IN EASTERN EUROPE at UC Berkeley.

Call for Papers

THE PLEASURES OF BACKWARDNESS: CONSUMER DESIRE AND MODERNITY IN EASTERN EUROPE.

Conference
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 everyday agency and the
creative potential of ordinary people.

This conference will bring together junior and senior scholars to examine
the place of consumption, entertainment and leisure in Eastern Europe and
to explore the implications of the latest consumer studies for the region’s
wider history. Not only in state socialism did consumption lend flexibility
and creativity to a system commonly thought of as stagnant and stultified.
In what ways can the consumer perspective change our understanding of
development, politics and power in the region over the centuries? How does
a focus on the lives of consumers illuminate Eastern engagement with the
West over the long term, not just during the cold war? Does attention to
the rise of consumption in the East problematize Western narratives of
consumerism and modernization? Were consumer cultures of the East mere
imitations of a more developed West, or were there pleasures of
backwardness peculiar to the region?

Ten participants and a number of senior scholars will be invited to discuss
new research and provide expert feedback. Although proposals for
single-country projects are welcome, we are especially eager to receive
proposals that involve comparison, whose scope transcends national borders,
and papers that situate Eastern Europe into a larger European or global
context. Those interested in participating should send a short CV and a
brief summary (250-500 words) of their papers to event organizer Michael
Dean (PhD in History, UC Berkeley) at *michaelwdean@gmail.com*
by *October 31, 2014*. Invitations will be issued
in mid November. While lodging and a portion of travel will be covered by
the event’s organizers, participants should try, wherever possible, to
obtain funding from their home university.

Cosponsored by the Townsend Center for the Humanities, UC Berkeley; the UC
Berkeley History Department; the Institute of Slavic, East European and
Eurasian Studies at UC Berkeley; the Center for Interdisciplinary Polish
Studies at the Viadrina University in Frankfurt (Oder); and the EU Center
for Excellence at UC Berkeley.

--

Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies
University of California, Berkeley
260 Stephens Hall #2304
Berkeley, CA 94720-2304

tel   +1 (510) 642-3230
fax   +1 (510) 643-5045
email iseees@berkeley.edu
web   http://iseees.berkeley.edu

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