Imagined Central European Geographies. Towards the Contemporary Politics of Location

Event title (long): 
International Workshop "Imagined Central European Geographies. Towards the Contemporary Politics of Location"
City: 
Tübingen
Country: 
Germany
Organizer: 
University of Tübingen
Closing date for submissions: 
31 January, 2016
Event dates: 
29.04.2016 - 01.05.2016
Contact: 
Slavonic Seminar, University of Tübingen
E-mail contact: 

Keynote speakers:  Prof. Tamara Hundorova, Chair of the Department of 

Theory of Literature, Shevchenko Institute of Literature of the National 
Academy of Sciences of Ukraine;  Prof. Dirk Uffelmann, Professor of 
Slavic Literatures and Cultures, Universität Passau (Germany)

The aim of this workshop is to reconstruct the way that literary figures 
are positioned, located, ranked within a hierarchy and subordinated 
within contemporary spatial narratives of Central Europe. The region is 
not only a space “in-between” (that is, neither East nor West) but it 
also represents a physical playground of current political and 
ideological struggles. The years 2004 and 2007 are particularly relevant 
because although Central and Western Europe were symbolically reunited a 
new stress was simultaneously developing on the borders of countries 
such as Ukraine, Belarus or Moldova.

We are interested in contemporary narratives that explore the 
spatial-temporal dimensions of physical Central European borderline 
regions (such as Lower and Upper Lusatia, Lower and Upper Silesia, Těšín 
Silesia, Spiš, Masuria, Galicia, or Bukovina) and or that re-consider 
the existing frameworks of understanding spatial entities in Central 
Europe (such as the former ghetto district in Warsaw). Our aim is to 
track how borders in Central Europe have been and continue to be re- and 
deconstructed. We will focus on the emancipation of minority groups 
(including aspects such as gender, class, sex, age, race, and ethnicity) 
within the context of the construction of imagined spaces. Additionally, 
we will consider the role of history in such processes, for example the 
extent to which macro- and microhistories are being (mis)used to 
establish identities.

4 Discussion Panels:

1. Literature and Its New (Old?) Social Role. Politics of Memory

Literature in Central Europe played a vital role in forming national and 
ethnic identities, and has been frequently utilized to justify political 
positions.

Issues:

- The social and political role of selected literature

- Storage of memory and preserving the past for the future

- Positioning oneself within the established historical discourse (how 
and to what extent the con-temporary narratives follow, develop, 
reformulate, reject the discourse)

- Memory canon: how it is being reformulated in contemporary literature

2. Idealisation of the (Imagined) Past

By allowing individuals to independently interpret facts, nostalgia 
creates another version of history. Nostalgia can also lead to the 
transformation of the meaning of widely accepted facts.

Issues:

- To what extent do nostalgia and idealisation of the past legitimize 
dominant discourses?

   - How do the objects of nostalgia (such as pre-war, war, post-war, 
communist, post-communist spaces) obtain new meanings?

- Which spatial-temporal phenomena have become new objects of 
idealisation in recent times?

    3. Counter-discourses

The process of forming collective identities can be conceptualized as a 
set of negotiations between differently embodied subjects. In recent 
years a plethora of rising minority discourses (including ethnic, 
national, sexual, gender, religious) against the dominating discourses 
can be observed.

Issues:

- Spatial narratives and counter-discourses as a repetition of the 
established schemas

- Which aspects of the dominating discourses do counter-discourses 
actually criticise?

- Can the antifeminist backlash be combined with counter-discourses in 
spatial narratives? 

4. Different Modes of Voice

   We are also interested in formal issues as they also transport meaning 
and are able to provide alternative perspectives. Questions such as 
nostalgia, memory, or identity appear not only in prose, but are also 
prolifically discussed in contemporary literary journalism, drama and art.

Issues:

- How do narrative tools construct new social imaginaries?

- Do authors develop new forms of narration and expression which exceed 
existing genre limits?

- Which roles interact with the potential transgression of genre 
boundaries?

- Which new roles play polyphony of narration, silence, grotesque, 
parody, or dialogue?

Organization Details

PhD and M.A. students will be given priority to participate in the 
workshop. As the focus of our interest is literature, we will primarily 
address the representatives of disciplines such as national literature 
studies (German, Polish, Czech, Slovakian, Hungarian, Ukrainian, 
Romanian philology among others) and comparative literature. However, we 
would also be eager to work with the representatives of history, 
politics and cultural studies. The participants will be asked to prepare 
a short presentation (15-20 min.) that has not been previously 
presented/published before.

The official start (opening + keynote lecture I + panel I) will take 
place in the Friday evening, which will make an immediate start the next 
morning (Saturday) possible. For Saturday evening we plan to have a 
panel discussion. The last panel and the final discussion are planned 
for Sunday morning.

The participation in the workshop is free of charge. The accommodation 
(2 nights) and catering in Tübingen for the workshop time is provided by 
the workshop organizers.

Application

Please submit a 300-word abstract (+ panel you are interested in) and a 
brief bio to  <icegworkshop2016 [at] gmail.com> by January 31st, 2016.  

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