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Decolonising Eastern Europe? Empire, nation and capital in the post-socialist space

In early September, two Zoom panels on the topic of decolonising Eastern Europe were organised as part of the seminar programme of the Institute of Culture and Society, Western Sydney University. We are happy to share the recordings of these conversations, hosted and curated by Tsvetelina Hristova.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has (re)produced a plethora of interpretative frameworks for understanding the history and the politics of the post-socialist space. While some have proclaimed the ‘end of the post-soviet’, a growing number of Ukrainian scholars, artists and activists insist on using a decolonial framework for understanding the dependencies and ruptures between former Soviet states. This framework casts the relationship between former socialist countries in a racialised and extractivist dynamic, complicating the meanings and uses of the ‘post’.

In the span of two panel conversations, scholars from the post-socialist space discuss the relevance of new and old analytical and political concepts like nationalism, imperialism, and capitalism for thinking about Eastern Europe and the insights we gain from this engagement for understanding global history and political economy. Their interventions drawing on a longue durée analysis of the divergent histories of Eastern European countries discuss the shared and distinct experiences of former socialist states, the different instances and uses of imperialism, anticolonialism, decoloniality and post-colonialism in this history and the relevance of nationalism and transition to understanding the current post-socialist condition.


Participants in the first panel:

Bojana Videkanić, assistant professor in fine arts at the University of Waterloo, is a performance artist and an art historian/theorist born in Bosnia and Herzegovina (former Yugoslavia). She is currently writing a book on socialist modernism and non-aligned modernities.

Christina Novakov-Ritchey is an assistant professor of Humanities at the University of Houston – Clear Lake. Her research examines peasants, communism, ecology, folklore, and aesthetics in the Yugoslav region. Her next research project is focused on global post-socialist performance.

Nikolay Karkov is an assistant professor in philosophy at SUNY Cortland. He has published texts on decolonial practice, socialism and anti-colonialism in Eastern Europe and is part of the network Dialoguing the Posts.


Participants in the second panel:

Agnes Gagyi, University of Gothenburg, is a social researcher, focusing on politics and social movements in East Central Europe, from the perspective of the region’s long-term world market and geopolitical integration.

Ovidiu Țichindeleanu is a philosopher and cultural theorist, co-founder of the Romanian left-wing website CriticAtac, the Indymedia Romania platform and LeftEast. Țichindeleanu’s latest book is “Counterculture. Rudiments of Critical Philosophy”.

Volodymyr Ishchenko is a research associate at the Institute of East European Studies, Freie Universität Berlin. His research focuses on social movements, nationalism and civil society. He is working on a collective book manuscript on the Maidan uprising.

By Tsvetelina Hristova

Tsvetelina Hristova is a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Culture and Society, Western Sydney University. She works at the intersection of media studies, anthropology and STS and her publications focus on the politics of sociomaterial practices of organisation and infrastructure and their relationship to labour management, migration and political economy.