Workshop “Moving Away from ‘Post-socialism’: Reconceptualizing Scholarly Approaches to Contemporary Eastern Europe and Eurasia through Feminist and Queer Theory Lenses”

October 21, 2022

Budapest, 23-25 September 2022

The workshop took place at CEU’s Budapest campus, whose currently empty spaces only emphasized the importance of re-examining the political and theoretical implications of “post-socialism.” The goal of the workshop was to critically account for the strong grip this concept has on the scholarly work engaging with contemporary Eastern Europe and Eurasia, as well as to offer potential alternatives.

The workshop brought together diverse theoretical and regional perspectives, the participants coming from Hungary, Austria, Germany, Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, Romania, Lithuania, Estonia, Sweden, Romania, Ireland, Italy, Russia, Australia, the USA, and former Yugoslavia.  

The first panel, on “Hope and Hopelessness: Feminist Struggles in Contemporary Eastern Europe” (Swantje Höft, Yanina Reviaka, Alžbeta Kuchtová, Aleksandra Reczuch) approached post-socialist timespace through the perspective of social and intellectual movements, for which socialist legacy comes both as a heritage and a burden. The panel “Strategic Whiteness: Between ‘Post-socialist’ and Decolonial” (Vica Kravtsova, Mariana Irby, Kirill Polkov, Anna Safuta) discussed colonial dynamics of post-socialist spaces, focusing on the question of the production of racialized divisions, both within the region and in its relation to “the West”. The panel “Queer Subjects and ‘Post-socialist’ Affectivity” (Yana Kirey-Sitnikova, Anna Eroshenko, Paweł Bagiński) focused on post-socialist biopolitical apparatus, examining continuities and changes in the regulation of gendered and trans* bodies. The panel “Performing Queerness, Imagining Futurities”(Jill Pope, Aleksandra Gajowy, Sabrina Bellenzier) explored performative arts as a site of critique and re-invention of the socialist past and nationalist present.

Bogdan Popa’s keynote lecture looked into the theoretical potential of queer readings of socialist visual culture, and Kateřina Kolářová, in her keynote lecture, developed her concept of crip horizons thinking through the experience of the pandemic in the Czech Republic.

The workshop was organized by CEU Gender Studies Ph.D. candidates Eglė Ambrasaitė, Petar Odak and Sasha Talaver, and professors Eszter Timár, Andrea Krizsan, Elissa Helms and Hadley Z. Renkin.