POPULAR CULTURE AND SOCIALISM(S): Call for proposals for contributions to an edited collection
Over the past two decades, historians, sociologists, art critics, anthropologists and media scholars have contributed to a veritable outpouring of publications exploring the complex relationships between cultural practices, political agendas, and economic policies in the post-1945 period. This growing body of work is bringing to light important structural similarities between cultural developments in the East and the West, and highlighting the continuities between post-1945 cultural histories and long-term historical trends, including the rise of modernity, popular sovereignty and mass production. The proposed edited collection seeks to further the debate on these issues by focussing on the history of popular culture in socialist Eastern Europe. We welcome contributions addressing one or more of the following issues:
1. POLITICS, IDEOLOGY AND POPULAR CULTURE: What were the key ideological attitudes of the political establishment and the socialist intelligentsia towards ‘popular’ or ‘mass’ culture? How have they changed over time, and how did they differ from country to country? To what extent did these attitudes differ from those held by the political and cultural elites in the West? How have they shaped the cultural and media policies in socialist countries?
2. POPULAR CULTURE AND LEGITIMACY: To what extent did the socialist regimes accommodate the increasing demand for popular culture and consumer products among the population, and to what extent can this be seen as a (successful) attempt at addressing the lack of popular legitimacy? Or, in other words: were popular culture and consumerism always inherently subversive, or were they also used as a tool of internal legitimation and consolidation of socialist regimes?
3. NEGOTIATION, APPROPRIATION, AND RESISTANCE: How did either the producers or the consumers of popular culture adapt to the limits imposed by socialist cultural policies? How ‘popular’ were the popular culture products sanctioned and promoted by the socialist regimes? What practices of adaptation, negotiation or resistance can be discerned (e.g. cynicism/kynism, irony, dialogic farce etc.), and how influential were they in undermining the of legitimacy socialist regimes?
4. CROSS-BORDER EXCHANGE: What were the major routes of cross-border exchange of popular culture, both among the socialist states themselves and across the Cold War divide (e.g. transnational film and music distribution, co-operation between national broadcasting organizations, adaptation of foreign genres, formats and practices of cultural production etc.)? How did these exchanges contribute to the diversity and similarity of cultural production across different socialist states as well as across the Cold War divide?
5. WESTERN THEORIES AND SOCIALIST POPULAR CULTURE: How useful are the concepts and theories of popular culture developed in the West – particularly those coming from the field of cultural studies – in understanding socialist popular culture? What alternative theories and concepts can we think of that can better elucidate the role of popular culture in socialist states?
6. SOCIALIST POPULAR CULTURE, HISTORICAL CONTINUITIES AND POST-SOCIALIST DEVELOPMENTS: To what extent were the different attitudes and responses to popular culture in socialist Eastern Europe rooted in pre-World War II cultural preferences and practices? What is the legacy of socialist popular culture today, and how does it figure in various nostalgic recollections of the period (Ostalgie, Yugonostalgia etc.)? To what extent did the post-communist societies inherit the ‘structures of feeling’ (Williams 1961) established through the socialist popular culture?
Ideally, we would like all contributions to be both empirically grounded and theoretically informed. Please send your proposals (800-1000 words) with a brief Curriculum Vitae (1 x A4) to Reana Senjković (Reana@ief.hr) and Sabina Mihelj (S.Mihelj@lboro.ac.uk) BY OCTOBER 31, 2008. We will inform you about our decision by December 15, and if your proposal is accepted, we will expect a first draft by the end of May 2009, and a final manuscript by the end of September 2009.
We are currently in the process of securing funding for a small workshop that will allow us to discuss the first drafts and the possible ways of weaving them together into a coherent book. The workshop will be organized in Budapest, Hungary, in June 2009. Further details will follow after the submission of abstracts.
Department of Social Sciences
Loughborough LE11 3TU, UK
Institut of Ethnology and Folklore Research
10000 Zagreb, Croatia
Department of Social Sciences
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