Since the collapse of the Soviet system, Eastern Europeans have traveled beyond the borders of their nation spaces, and transported cultural capital between home and abroad. They have visited or permanently re-located to metropolitan centers of Western culture; re-positioned their own capitals in the context of capitalist postmodernity; challenged existing geographies of peripheral existence; and subscribed to what Levitt & Khagram have termed “public transnationalism” (2007), a way of thinking about public interactions in a globalized space that highlights the co-mingling of national selves and multi-participatory identities.
This panel invites talks about the implications of the diverse practices of crossing boundaries, tactics of translation, and experiences of multiple political and national attachments, evident in textual, cinematic, or other representations of real or imaginary journeys between the former Soviet Bloc and the West (Western Europe and North America). Among others, we hope to address the following questions: Are there really no “common denominations” in the “struggle [between East and West] for discursive rules,” as Frederic Jameson put it in 1991, and is that bound to lead to “the inevitable comedy of each side muttering irrelevant replies in its own favorite language”? How is new cultural capital being created, by cosmopolitan travelers, professional or economic migrants, outside or inside existing national or supranational institutions that direct the creation and dissemination of such capital? How does it contribute to the much-needed reform of preexisting binaries (East/West, rich/poor, communist/democratic, immigrant/non-immigrant)?
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