Remembering / Forgetting imperial past, Nationalism and the making of ethnicities around the Black Sea

Call for Papers
Centre for Critical Inquires in Society and Culture
Research workshop
Remembering / Forgetting imperial past: Nationalism and the making of ethnicities around the Black Sea
31 March 2017
Department of Sociology and Policy, School of Languages and Social Sciences, Aston University,
Aston Triangle, Birmingham, B4 7ET, United Kingdom


The workshop focuses on the relatively under-researched intersections between post-imperialism (and post-colonialism) and post-socialism and their impact on cultural, political and ethno-national processes in the regions around the Black Sea. This is the world’s area that had been shaped by historically contested borderlands of three Eurasian empires (the Ottoman, Russian, and Habsburg). Later it was divided by the Iron Curtain as either the part of the USSR and the Soviet Bloc or the NATO allies (Turkey). After the collapse of the communist regimes and state-socialism in the region, the post-socialist transformations have often led to the inter-ethnic violence but also to the re-building of cultural ties based on the common histories. Emergence of new international frontiers has been going hand in hand with production of new citizenship regimes within which the meanings of the place, space and community acquire new meanings. The past population movement and present cross-border mobility have resulted in the establishment of diasporic communities who are also bearers of the memories and a living remainder of the rich history of the region.

Arguably in the region in questions, ethnic identities are fairly modern phenomena that intrinsically connected to emergence of the nation-state from transformation of old imperial realms at the beginning of the twentieth century when colonial periphery or remote provinces became centres of independent nations. The politics of memory – as a selective intersubjective process of remembering and forgetting collective traumatic experiences – has played instrumental role in construction of new national and ethnic identities in the region and providing the moral authority to discursive regimes of nationalism that impose what Liisa Malkki calls ‘the national order of things’ as a dominant way of imagining the territory, culture, society, the self and the other. In this part of Eurasia, the heightened nationalism has not subsided with the increasing marketization of the socio-economic sphere that has been going there during last 25 years since reintegration of the region in the global economy. On the contrary, there are evidences that history and cultural heritage often become sites of a fierce competition contributing to the othering and alienation of some minority groups and feeling of cultural anxiety among the majority of population in countries around the Black Sea. Ultimately the region became an arena for reinterpreting and reimagining the past in attempt to make sense to the volatile present and to map the future trajectories.

The workshop aims to bring together the distinguished regional experts working within different disciplines (i.e. sociology, social anthropology, history and political sciences). The workshop will also provide the platform for public sector practitioners and civil society activists to present their perspectives on the politics of history, memory and identity in the region. The dialogue between researchers, practitioners and activists will take place at panel sessions, film screening and round table discussion during one-day workshop activities.

This workshop is an attempt to initiate a debate on role that memory of the imperial past play in contemporary cultural, social and economic processes in the region by asking among others the following questions:

  • How are memories of the imperial past socially re-produced, maintained and / or removed from the public discourses in different national contexts of the region?
  • What is the impact of politics of memory on everyday strategies and practices of ordinary people in their dealing with relatively new citizenship and border regimes, emerging markets and shifting power relations in their localities?
  • What is the role of diasporic communities (both within the region and geographically remote from it) and ethnic minorities in negotiating meanings of cultural belonging and past traumas and presenting a potential for alternative interpretations of the national histories?

Confirmed speakers:
Prof. Kerem Öktem (University of Graz),
Dr. Igor Kuznetsov (Kuban State University),
Vladimir Kolesov (E.D Felitsyn Krasnodar State Museum of History and Archaeology),

Nayat Karaköse (Hrant Dink Foundation/Turkey)
Ani King-Underwood (Independent documentary film producer/director)

 

Organizers:
Dr. Anton Popov, Department of Sociology, School of Languages and Social Sciences, Aston University, Birmingham, B4 7ET, United Kingdom.
Dr. Ebru Soytemel, Department of Sociology, School of Languages and Social Sciences, Aston University, Birmingham, B4 7ET, United Kingdom.

If you would like to participate in this workshop, please send an abstract (max. 200 words) and contact details including affiliation and e-mail address to Anton Popov (a.popov@aston.ac.uk) and Ebru Soytemel (e.soytemel@aston.ac.uk) by 25th February 2017.

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