Sunday, December 09, 2012

CFP: 2013 Annual Soyuz Symposium "Authoritarianism and Beyond? Lessons from Postsocialist Societies?"

(Harriman Institute, Columbia University, New York, March 22-23, 2013)

Theme: Authoritarianism has become the common denominator for political regimes of many contemporary postsocialist societies. Authoritarianism highlights strong presidential authority, lack of democratic succession of rule and insufficient public representation. Within this analytic, authoritarianism is the opposite of liberal democracy, deficient in terms of active civil society and critical public sphere, and plagued by state-led oppression and violence.

The 2013 SOYUZ symposium invites papers that would extend interpretive work on authoritarianism beyond this dualistic framework. We solicit field-research-based presentations that explore political and social processes in postsocialist societies in ways to complicate this top-down understanding of the state-society relationship. What kinds of alternative analytical frameworks are there to approach these processes? What kind of interpretation might the understanding of politics drawing, for example, on Foucault or Agamben offer to this conversation? Overall, we seek to extend the scope of this symposium beyond the concerns of postsocialist societies and to explore analytical limits and possibilities of the term authoritarianism itself.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:
- working through/making sense of authoritarian pasts
- specters of the state
- agencies of state: law, the military, borders, and taxation
- the role of media and cultural production
- conjuncture of capitalism and authoritarianism
- non-state authoritarianism
- neoliberalism as a type of authoritarianism

SOYUZ, the Research Network for Postsocialist Cultural Studies, is an interdisciplinary forum for exchanging work based on field research in postsocialist countries, ranging from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union to Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America. The Symposium has met annually since 1991 and offers an opportunity for scholars to interact in a more personal setting.

The deadline for abstracts is: December 15, 2012. Please send abstracts of 250 words by email to Zhanara Nauruzbayeva ( Please include your full name, paper title, and academic affiliation, and write "SOYUZ 2013" in the subject line. Papers will be selected and notifications made by January 15, 2013.

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