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Transnational Mappings of (Post)Socialism

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Organizer: Claudia Sadowski-Smith

Co-Organizer: Ioana Luca

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This panel examines cultural productions that participate in the growing comparative engagement with state socialism and its aftermath in Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean, and that are sometimes framed within the emerging field of postsocialist studies. We envision conversations about connections between the United States, Western Europe, and the (post)socialist world that trace new transnational imaginaries as well as alliances among residents and migrants from the former First, Second, and Third Worlds. (Post)socialist experiences were first represented in the cultural productions of individual (post)socialist nations, and more recently of US immigrant authors from the former Eastern Bloc have also placed the Second World into a well-deserved spotlight. Their prizewinning and widely-translated work develops nuanced interpretations of key events in the former socialist world that have shaped the formation of Cold War imaginaries in the twentieth century and beyond. Scholars have examined the literary productions of the global post-Soviet diaspora (Wanner 2011), theorized the racialization of post-Soviet migrants in the US and their relationship to other contemporary US immigrants (Sadowski-Smith 2018), and highlighted the significance of US interventions in the former Yugoslavia for more recent US military engagements (Atanasoski 2013). Other researchers have examined “uncommon alliances” between immigrants from the postsocialist and postcolonial worlds (Kovacevic 2018) and investigated representations of (post)socialist women’s migration to the EU (Parvulescu 2014). The panel draws on these approaches to map further interactions and transactions between the United States, Western Europe, and the (post)socialist world. It expands upon a 2015 ACLA panel on “Postsocialist Diasporas in the United States,” which has informed a forthcoming special issue of Twentieth Century Literature. Contributions focus on a variety of cultural productions (including media, film, and TV) and explore methodological intersections between US American studies, postsocialist studies, European studies, postcolonial studies, and immigration and diaspora studies. The cultural representations examined by panelists develop comparative perspectives on the former socialist countries, including migration to the United States and Western Europe, as well as discussions that conceive of socialism and postsocialism on a global level.  

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