AG Europe's East
AG Europe’s East’s is comprised of early career scholars focusing on or coming from Eastern Europe as well as those interested in transregional research and collaboration. Since its inception in 2009 the group has maintained focus on Europe’s East and its spillover effect on other parts of the world, while dealing with various theoretical, political, religious and historical developments.
In Winter 20/21, we have taken as starting point the thematic intersections around problems of the Global post-1989 societies and continued to discuss the the repopularization of world system theory, the discourses of transition from X to Y (“transitology”), the phenomena of austerity and localization, and the decolonial turn. We have investigated the particular forms of such concerns in Europe’s East from the global point of view, particularly via the intersections with other regions popularly designated as “marginal.” The group tried to decenter the discussion on creation of territory while looking at the mechanisms of exclusion that (re)draw borders between the center and the periphery. We aimed to shift our focus from the study of practices of othering from the perspectives of Western Europe or the EU onto the affected communities.
We are always open for new ideas and interests and we would very much welcome you to our regular group meetings. Our communication takes places over the AG Europe’s East Mattermost channel. If you are interested in the group, please do not hesitate to follow the channel and/or contact our speakers for further information.
Vira Sachenko (Vira.Sachenko)
Mariia Zimina (Mariia.Zimina@gcsc.uni-giessen.de)
War in Ukraine
The AG Europe’s East speakers have been deeply shocked and hurt by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. We cannot find words strong enough to condemn the violent and senseless actions of the Russian leadership and military personnel.
We stand fully with the anti-imperialist resistance in Ukraine, and in solidarity with anti-war protesters in Russia and Belarus. We hope to see the end of this war as soon as possible, the retreat of the Russian military from the sovereign and undivided territory of Ukraine, the restoration of rule of law, and the trials of those responsible for war crimes in the Hague.
Below, we collected some resources for those that are seeking or offering support in these times:
To find or extend support within the university and the city community, check the JLU page and contact respective initiatives.
If you are a Ukrainian national experiencing economic precarity due to the war and are already based at JLU or hoping to begin or continue your research here, you may qualify for the financial support programme created by Hessian universities.
For scholars at risk wishing or having to relocate, many opportunities worldwide are linked here.
Most opportunities in Germany have been listed by colleagues in Erfurt.
Artists and culture workers may find information for emergency assistance and relocation Europewide here.
If you have the possibility to financially contribute to the resistance and the rebuilding of Ukraine, we recommend supporting the initiatives on this list (which includes both large organizations and grassroot, feminist and queer initiatives working in Ukraine), compiled by colleagues at the University of Alberta.
If you know people who fled to Hessen, they can find help through Bahnhofsmission in Frankfurt. This organization helps with purchasing the tickets or redistributing the refugees across the state. There is also a regional branch in Gießen.
Please do not hesitate to contact group speakers if you are a young scholar trying to join the JLU while fleeing the war. We will do our best to assist you.
Vira and Mariia
Winter 20/21 and Summer 2021
The group has worked on the issue of EE’s global position and the possible futures they invite, while acknowledging the historical developments leading to them. Some of the themes discussed were: methods in the study of culture (and their geographical routes, ideological positioning within our research projects, borders (their creation, maintenance, leakage and contestation), center(s) of the world and EE’s relation to it/them, politics of knowledge in writing about particular places (the case of Belarus).
In collaboration with Research Area 8: Cultures of Knowledge, Research, and Education, AG Global South, ETRG Migration and Decoloniality, AG Europe's East hosted the Online Workshop: Engaging Struggles Across the Global South and East on July 26-27 2021.
“Introduction: Mapping Postsocialist Cultural Studies” in Before the Wall/After the Fall (2003), edited by Sibelan Forrester, Magdalena J. Zaborowska, and Elena Gapova (pp.1-30).
Elena Gapova (2017) “The Politics of the Belarusian Self”
David R. Marples (2008) Is the Russia-Belarus Union Obsolete?, Problems of PostCommunism, 55:1, 25-35.
Manuela Boatcă (2015) “After Uniqueness: Entangled Modernities and Multiple Europes” in Global Inequalities Beyond Occidentalism (pp. 201-26)
Winter 19/20 and Summer 2020
From January through summer 2020, the Working Group “Europe’s East” (AGEE) has agreed to discuss the topical clusters of the upcoming workshop “Decolonial methods, peripheral selves, The migrant figure between (South)East European and Global South Entanglements”, to be held on 10-11 July at JLU Giessen. For each session, two or three core readings are agreed for preparation and discussed in turn. Presentation of work in progress of group members or external speakers is also possible.
Session 1: Theoretical, epistemological and methodological contact zones between post-/decolonial, post-socialist, and peripheralist perspectives
Date: Friday, 17th January 2020, Lead: Polina Manolova & Philipp Lottholtz
Readings on decolonial basics:
Tlostanova, M. V., & Mignolo, W. (2012). Learning to unlearn: Decolonial reflections from Eurasia and the Americas. The Ohio State University Press.
On ‘peripheralist perspectives’:
Boatca, M. (2006). Semiperipheries in the world-system: Reflecting Eastern European and Latin American experiences. Journal of World-Systems Research, 12(2), 321-346.
Müller, M. (2019). Goodbye, Postsocialism!, Europe-Asia Studies, 71:4, 533-550,
On the migrant figure as connecting the contemporary post-/decolonial, post-socialist, and peripheralist perspective:
Nail, T. (2015). The Figure of the Migrant. Stanford University Press.
Nail, T. (2016). Theory of the Border. Oxford University Press.
Session 2: Decolonial methods for studying migration from the discursive to the affective: oral histories, biographies and in-depth interviews
Date: Monday, 10th February 2020
Description: How are borders constitutive of peripheries, not just geographically but also symbolically? How to use border-as-method? What concrete attempts at ‘decolonizing’ Western Europe social science have been made to address the issues of exploitation and marginalization of ‘peripheral subjects’ under study?
Mezzadra, S. and Nielsen, B. (2010). Border as Method. Duke University Press.
Gutiérrez Rodríguez, E. (2010). Migration, Domestic Work and Affect. Routledge.
Gutiérrez Rodríguez, E. Boatcă , M. and S. Costa. Decolonizing European Sociology: Transdisciplinary Approaches. Ashgate.
Cabot, H. (2015). On the Doorstep of Europe: Asylum and Citizenship in Greece. University of Pittsburgh Press.
De Genova, N. (2017). The Borders of “Europe”: Autonomy of Migration, Tactics of Bordering. Duke University Press.
Session 3: Methodological aspects of migration and labor: Marxist, decolonial and feminist trajectories
Gutiérrez Rodríguez, E. (2010). Migration, Domestic Work and Affect. Routledge.
Kumar Rajaram, P. (2018) Refugees as Surplus Population: Race, Migration and Capitalist
Value Regimes,New Political Economy, 23:5, 627-639,
Public Event: Presentation of Special Issue “Decolonial Theory and Practice in Southeast Europe”, in cooperation with Prof Encarnacion Gutierrez-Rodrigues
Date: 30th April 2020, JLU Campus (Phil II)
Session 4: Researching migration/asylum nexus and the racialization logic of the EU border regimes
Ahmed, Sara (2004) The cultural politics of emotion, Edinburgh UP, Intro and ch. 3 The Affective Politics of Fear
Session 5: What can social science tell us about migration, securitization and humanitarianization?
Bertrand, Sarah (2018). Can the subaltern securitize? Postcolonial perspectives on securitization theory and its critics. European Journal of International Security, 3(3), 281-299.
Williams, J. M. (2016). The safety/security nexus and the humanitarianisation of border enforcement. The Geographical Journal, 182(1), 27-37.
McNevin, Anne, Missbach, Antje (2018). Luxury limbo: temporal techniques of border control and the humanitarianisation of waiting. International Journal of Migration and Border Studies, 4(1-2), 12-34.
Explorative Workshop: “Decolonial methods, peripheral selves, The migrant figure between (South)East European and Global South Entanglements”
Date: 10-11 July 2020, JLU Giessen
Impressions of discussions
Reading sessions on women and socialism and feminisms in Europe’s East in the summer term 2018
Brief impression of one of our discussions: Zoran gave a short introduction on the discussion around the politics of history in Eastern Europe regarding a relatively new research agenda that seeks to shed light on female organizations under state socialisms, like the ones undertaken by de Haan, Daskalova, Ghodsee, or Bonfiglioli. A part of that ongoing discussion is certainly the Funk-Ghodsee debate around historical revisionism, feminist agency under socialism, and formal and unformal female organizations and their role in helping women on either side of the Cold War division. This debate had its offshoot in former Yugoslavia as well through the polemics that opened up after Slavenka Drakulic’s text "How women survived communism (but didn’t laugh)" that provoked responses by Ghodsee and Zaharijevic titled "Fantasies of feminist history in Eastern Europe" and Andrea Peto’s "After 'emancipation after emancipation.'"
Some of the comments and further discussion points: The systems in question, however politically monolithic, were socially diverse. Furthermore, there needs to be a clearer periodization of state socialism. Among the biggest shortcomings of the Funk article was a limited definition of agency, delineating what is proactive and what is reactive when it comes to the state-individual relationship. Was there a genuine resistance in the women organizations or were they all complying with the party directives? Furthermore, what is to be done with female communists and their role in social policy and in organizing resistance during the war? The discussion puts forward an implied definition of feminism that sets the pace for the argument in Funk’s text, one that allows her to smoothly proceed to the questions of agency. On top of that, the question of agency can be further obscured when we see examples of state-sponsored novels that managed to survive as amazing pieces of art. This line of questioning agency was deepened by asking whether the issue of agency, with Butler in mind, is completely irrelevant nowadays. A way out of this conundrum would be to focus on discursive practices and social structures instead of walking into the trap of identification and subjectification.
Reading sessions on postcolonial theory and Europe’s East in the winter term 2017/18
In our discussion of Chari/Verdery (2009) and Smola/Uffelmann (2016) we made a distinction between the first text which establishes and justifies the link between postsocialism and postcolonialism, and the second text which takes this link for granted and offers perspectives on how to work with both concepts. We discussed the questions of if and to what degree the application of postcolonial theories on Europe’s East leads to the construction of a colonial/imperial past, a center-periphery-model, etc., whereas the post- or decolonial concept is more about deconstruction and fragmentation. We also talked about the Western perspective of the Chari/Verdery-text, which doesn't include Eastern perspectives and is written for a western audience. There have been many works on the link between postcolonial and postsocialist perspectives from Russian scholars-- which are ignored in this article. The Smola/Uffelmann 2016 edited volume offers such perspectives through literary lenses, helping us broaden the discussion on postcoloniality and postsocialism and offering a necessary move to contrast the local scholarship to the Western academic gaze.
Film screening and dialogue with a contemporary witness, documentary: "Ja, Andre Iwanowitsch," June 2018.
Workshop "The Copy in Global Culture" with Jacob Edmond, PhD, June 2018.
Lecture at the Oberseminar Osteuropäische Geschichte "Entangled histories and the self-colonizing metaphor on the example of 19 c. Ottoman Bulgaria" (June 5th) and Masterclass "Self-colonization metaphor/ literature theory and criticism" (June 6th) with Prof. Dr. Alexander Kiossev.
Methodology Lab: "Spatialising Culture: Methods and Approaches to studying space," May 2018.
Masterclass "Ruins – Between Destruction, Historical Consciousness and Alternative Pasts" with Prof. Dr. Andreas Schönle, January 2018.
MC: Darko Lukić: Strategies of Subversion and cultural mythologies - multiple voices of collective memory in contemporary playwriting, October 2017.
Lecture: Shaban Darakchi: Dynamic in Gender and Sexuality among Bulgarian Muslims, July 2017.
MC: Marsha Siefert: Cold War Cultural Diplomacy, April 2017.
Lecture: Marsha Siefert: Soviet Cinematic Internationalism and Socialist Filmmaking, 1955-1972, April 2017.
Podiumsdiskussion/Oberseminar Osteuropäische Geschichte: Die Zukunft der Osteuropastudien: Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven, January 2017.
WS: We exist! - Sustainability and Reciprocity in Intercultural Projects: Building Mutual and Cooperative Exchange, January 2017.
Exhibition: The Stamp of Loneliness, January 2017.
The AG "Europe's East" was first brought to life by doctoral students interested in the Eastern European region in 2009. From 2013 on, our group has been very active in analyzing tendencies, similarities, and interrelations in the region.
During the academic year 2014/15, we focused on issues such as religion and religious revival in post socialist societies, gender and the theme of the unofficial vs. official sphere, and dissidence under Soviet rule. Focusing on the subject matter of a "religious revival" in post-socialist countries, with a special focus on the specificity of religious life in the Russian Federation, the AG established an inspiring platform for numerous discussions that contributed to organizing the one-day workshop "Religion and Public from 1989/1991" in January 2015. The workshop engaged with the interrelations of secularity and religiosity in post-socialist societies and was moderated by Professor Chris Hann, director of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle/Saale.
The academic year of 2015/16 started with revising the debates about the construction of "Eastern Europe" in academia and popular opinion, returning to the classics such as Larry Wolff's Inventing Eastern Europe and Maria Todorova's Imagining the Balkans. The overall topic of the winter semester was memory in Eastern Europe. In cooperation with RA 1 Cultural Memory Studies, we invited Dr. Vjeran Pavlaković from the University of Rijeka, Croatia, for a lecture "Remembering Lost Causes: Memory Politics from the American Civil War to the Former Yugoslavia" and a workshop, which focused particularly on the notions of transitional justice and memory politics.
The exhibition Monumenti: Changing Face of Rememberance in May 2016 with a special focus on former Yugoslavia culminated our discussions of post-socialist memory politics.
In November 2016, as a part of the GCSC Anniversary activities, we invited Prof. James Mark (Exeter University, UK) for a keynote lecture and doctoral workshop on the topics of Soviet internationalism during the Cold War and the relations between the "Second" and the "Third" World.
We are always open for new ideas and interests and we would very much welcome you to our regular group meetings. If you are interested in our group, please do not hesitate to contact our speakers for further information:
Vira Sachenko (Vira.Sachenko)
Mariia Zimina (Mariia.Zimina@gcsc.uni-giessen.de)
- Tatsiana Artsimovich
- Margarita Pavlova
- Vira Sachenko
- Kwezi Sontange
- Zoran Vučkovac
- Mariia Zimina
- Iryna Tarku
- Manuela Graf
- Dr. Philipp Lottholz
- Dr. Danijela Majstorović
- Dr. Pınar Gümüs