EASA, 2010: EASA2010: Crisis and imagination

Maynooth, 24/08/2010 – 27/08/2010


The other within the other: creative alternatives in the Balkans and post communist Europe

Location JHT3
Date and Start Time 25 Aug, 2010 at 11:30


David Murphy (National University of Ireland) email
Rajko Mursic (University of Ljubljana) email
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Long Abstract

Twenty years after the fall of Real-Socialism and forty years after the student revolts, Europe and the world are facing a crisis in capitalist production. Hopes that arose with the Velvet Revolution were not fulfilled and former socialist countries are still somehow either patronised or ignored by the well-developed Western countries.

Following decades of struggle for freedom of expression, a multitude of local responses to the commercialisation of all aspects of life have appeared, offering symbolic alternatives to a dominant profit-making order.

Most vivid among these local responses are perhaps popular music scenes which often acquire and function as forms of 'politics by other means', especially in cases whereby political apathy is the norm amongst certain age groups.

Alternative centers and scenes, the various hidden worlds at the heart of Europe offer an imaginative response to the collapse of forms of belonging that held mass appeal during the communist era and during the years of transition.

The workshop proposes to discuss creative 'scenes' in the Balkans and Eastern Europe with a specific focus on art, (alternative) music, media and public activities in which the local actors - regardless of age - transcend their marginalised position(s), through a creative 'othering' of their position marked by a perception from the centers as 'the Other' of Europe. Recent ethnographic, historical or analytical studies of popular music scenes, art worlds and any other forms of creative cultural resistance in the Balkans and Eastern Europe are warmly welcome.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.


At the heart of Europe: the limits of expression in far-right music scenes

Author: David Murphy (National University of Ireland)  email
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Long Abstract

On the 25th of August 2007 when Sibiu in Romania was the European Capital of Culture, an event took place just several kms from the centre in which hundreds of young music fans came together for a Pagan Metal festival. Although a largely peaceful affair, this quasi-private music festival was an example of the mixing of music and extreme right wing politics, with hundreds of fans chanting 'seig heil' in unison with some of the bands performing.

This paper will form the basis of a discussion/observation on the effect of anti-fascist legislation enacted within EU member states, and on the wider sets of meanings inherent in provocative music scenes. For example the production of alterity within music scenes, and by what criteria should these actions by studied and analyzed in light of the rise of European Neo-nationalism?

Private exhibiting and initiatives: creative alternatives to institutional modes of representing the other/one-self in Serbia

Author: Emilia Epstajn (The Museum of African Art)  email
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Long Abstract

The presentation will analyze the private/individual initiatives that have in the past years taken the form of "private museums" open to the public. These projects are in fact a form of 'freedom of expression' outside the ordered/structured/logistical framework of the 'bastions' of national heritage i.e. government funded National Museums, Specialized Museums, etc. Such projects have already taken different shapes: the private collection of African Art belonging to collector Branko Najhold, the Macura Museum in Novi Banovci, the self-sustaining family museum in Novi Bečej - as a few examples to be analyzed. There have been previous examples of creative spaces/scenes outside the system (The Family of the Clear Streams), however, this paper will aim to investigate the circumstances of their occurrence, their 'missions', the domains of creative, social, 'political' activism, as well as ways in which they have (in certain cases) come under the patronage of state funding.

The politics of Carnival

Author: Anita Sujoldžić (Institute for Anthropological Research)  email
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Long Abstract

Carnivals are a type of events using highly symbolic and inventive modes of expression that offer an opportunity to study social representation through a political perspective. They have become increasingly popular in post-socialist Croatia, as one of major forms of substitution for not only the broken forms of community life that had existed before the regime change but also for the loss of self-esteem grounded in the membership of communities socialist working-class identity that collapsed with the shift to capitalist free market structures, thus eventually operating as the public platform for the re-creation of post-socialist local identity. This paper approaches carnival practices in Croatia analytically as an occasion when social representations of society and power can be shown with all their complexity and contradictions. It particularly focuses on the processes of othering disclosed behind the masks.

Cultural creativity as an interaction between 'centre' and 'periphery' in Poland

Author: Weronika Plinska (University of Warsaw)  email
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Long Abstract

I would like to examine the everyday life creativity (Löfgren 2001, Liep 2001) observed in village areas of central Poland. I would like to take into account the different ways in which the idea of cultural creativity is being described and shared by - on one hand - Polish cultural animators (activists and engaged artists coming from Warsaw) who lead participatory arts projects in the "periphery", and - on the other hand - by local activists and social actors with their own sense of creativity and aesthetics (see Willis 1998).

The cultural animation as an idea of "active culture" was born in Poland in the Polish counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s, however, it was also strongly rooted in past tradition. Cultural animation projects started to have a more visible impact In the 1990s, with the rising number of projects led by NGOs financed by the EU or state grants (Crehan 2006).

'Returning to roots' in post-Soviet Russia

Author: Paul Kroopkin (Center for Modernity Studies)  email
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Long Abstract

The current social transformation pushed majority of Russian people to a profound identity crisis, and caused a significant fragmentation of the Russian society. The mental and behavioral patterns of a significant portion of society's lower strata, adversely affected by the social changes, can be interpreted as a form of "ancestor worship". These people tend to rally around chosen periods of Russian history ("Golden Ages") and appropriate "true ancestors". For every "Golden Age" there are collections of corresponding glorifying texts, which are of a "sacred" nature and devoid of application of criticism. Numerous senseless "flaming" threads of pseudo-historical debates on the Internet can be understood as rituals, which people use to worship their own "ancestors" with unrestrained praise, as well as through disparaging the "ancestors" and beliefs of other groups.

This presentation provides a classification of such identities, and proposes explanatory models for their genesis and sustainable reproduction.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.