PoSoCoMeS @MSA 2023

For the next Memory Studies Association’s conference which will take place in Newcastle on 3-7 July 2023, PoSoCoMeS is proposing a special stream titled

“Decolonization/Deindustrialization: Global Postsocialist Perspectives on Memory, Space, and Time”

Organizers of the PoSoCoMeS stream: Ksenia Robbe (University of Groningen) and Daria Khlevnyuk (HSE University).

It is commonplace to view the post-WWII period up until nowadays as the time of uneven but globally progressing decolonization – a process that is sweeping over and confronting societies of the Global South, North and East in various ways but with steady urgency. Within discourses focused on decolonization, however, it is rarely noted that since the 1970s, this process (or a range of processes) has coincided with massive deindustrialization. Together with the decay of technological systems, forms of labor and infrastructures, we are dealing with the decomposition of thinking and feeling that are guided by ideals of modernity and modernization, underpinned by linear time and reproductive futurity.

The ambiguous, non-linear and often controversial processes of decolonization and deindustrialization are deeply entangled in postsocialist contexts. On the one hand, industrialization was one of the main propagated symbols of socialist states, and their demise is, in many memory cultures, associated with traumatic deindustrialization. The deindustrializing land- and cityscapes have become an emblem of postsocialist Europe and subject of much scholarship on former state socialist countries, both in Europe and the Global South. They are often perceived as places of nostalgia or fetishized as evidence of dystopian futures past. These perspectives, however, often blur the political conditions that have shaped the postsocialist peripheries of Europe and other regions of the world that have experienced types of socialist projects and interventions. We propose to open discussions about the decolonizing/deindustrializing peripheries where colonization and decolonial visions, modernizations and their stages are being questioned. This becomes even more urgent as we witness how the process of deindustrialization today in some instances means re-colonization in terms of industries moving into former colonies.

This stream aims to start detangling this complex web of social processes and discussing the role memory cultures across the globe play in it. We focus on practices of memory in their connection to the senses and visions of space and time in the decolonizing/deindustrializing peripheries that occupy most of the world’s territory. What kind of memories do spaces of industrial ruination or post-industrial renewal evoke and mediate? How do memories of anti-colonial movements reflect on the promises of socio-economic modernization, in light of the ecological disasters that it brought about? How do visions of post-industrial futures attend (or not) to the materiality of living in ruined places? What does decolonization mean in relation to the spaces and times of continuing de- and re-industrialization?

We welcome proposals of full panels and individual papers for this stream. We expect the panels to have a comparative focus and include papers dedicated to at least two different regions. Individual papers may discuss cases in singular countries or regions but be open to inter-regional conversations with other participants of their panel.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • deindustrialization, heritage making and breaking: industrial sites as transnational socialist post-modernities;
  • deindustrialization and provinces: colonial relations in question;
  • deindustrialization and the power of the visual: from ruin porn to art;
  • oral and public history challenges and best practices in gathering testimonies about transition and spatial change;
  • roots of modernization and present lives of the former industrial sites;
  • future pasts & past futures;
  • representation of decolonization and deindustrialization in postsocialism in writing (fiction, memoirs), art, museums, interactive platforms, etc.;
  • transnational memory of industrial modernization: industrial pools and infrastructures in and beyond Eastern Europe;
  • decolonization and deindustrialization in Yugoslavia and multiple contexts of the Non-Aligned movement;
  • Germany through colonial eyes: East Germany as a colonial subject;
  • temporalities and rhythms of decolonization and deindustrialization across the world;
  • abandonment, ruination and gentrification in former industrial towns across postsocialist world;
  • objects of everyday use and material remnants as witnesses of decolonization and deindustrialization across post-Socialist world;
  • postsocialist post-industrial ruins and museification of traumatic past;
  • nostalgia for the industrial;
  • memories of socialist empires.

Please note that the conference is organized as an on-site event and online participation or hybrid panels cannot be scheduled.

We are inviting full panel proposals (including 4 papers and the name of the chair and/or discussant). Please email them by 10 September to posocomes@gmail.com. With any queries feel free to get in touch with Ksenia Robbe (k.robbe@rug.nl) and Daria Khlevnyuk (daria.khlevnyuk@gmail.com) before this deadline.