Dates of the Conference: March 29-April 1, 2018
Reading Race in Cold War Cultural Internationalism
An ACLA Seminar (UCLA, March 29-April 1, 2018)
Organized by Cate I. Reilly, Duke University
This seminar looks at the intertwined Soviet and Eastern Bloc legacies on race, cultural solidarity, and geopolitics. It moves beyond the extensive body of prior scholarship on regional ethnic minorities within Central and Eastern Europe and related questions of religious conflict. The seminar instead focuses on how writers, artists, and filmmakers in Central and Eastern Europe and across decolonizing regions during the Cold War, conceived of and negotiated race in the context of newfound, transnational aesthetic commitments.
The seminar asks: How did the epistemic effort to think internationally (by intellectuals from the USSR, GDR, Africa, and the Americas) interface with questions of racial identity? How did such concerns play out when the rough ideological alliances between the Eastern Bloc and emerging nations were challenged by writers and thinkers who were critical of the Soviet Union? In what ways did the early political framework of international solidarity in the USSR, conceived under the heading of the “Friendship of the Peoples,” contain a racialized dimension later played out in the global power struggles of the Cold War? How should frequent claims to racial equality in the Eastern Bloc be treated when occurring in the context of anti-imperialist (and anti-U.S.) propaganda?
The seminar invites literary-critical and interdisciplinary reflections on the conflicted history of race in Central and Eastern Europe during the Cold War, as situated against a backdrop of changing ideological and national alliances. It pays specific attention to a gap within postcolonial theory related to Soviet ideologies and cultural influences. Building on recent conferences that have addressed the legacy of Bandung humanisms, “translating” race in Eurasia, and performances of difference in Central and Eastern Europe, it moves temporally forward from the abundance of research on the role of minorities in the Russian avant-garde of the 1920s and 1930s. Possible paper topics include, but are not limited to: Eurasia’s place in postcolonial theory; literature and national autonomy movements of the Cold War; the conflicted relationship between the Communist and non-Communist intellectuals (Jomo Kenyatta, Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Léopold Senghor, Cheikh Anta Diop, among others); negritude and internationalism; translation and the circulation of texts/media between Eastern Europe and Africa; the influence of Socialist realist literature on African writers.
Interested applicants should submit a 250-300 word proposal.