Vijesti i događanja

Lost Discontinuity, Lost Fragmentarity: Conflict, Composition and Temporalities of Post-Yugoslav Literature(s) and Culture(s) - Call for Papers


Event date: October 12–13, 2018
Location: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences University of Rijeka

In the early 1990s, Eastern Bloc countries entered the process of transition. It was expected of them that they would accept and develop the values of liberalism, democracy, and the free market. The breakup of the second Yugoslavia has a complex status in the process of transition.

The question of post-Yugoslav literature opened the debate revolving around either the defining features of the transnational that could be inscribed from literature to culture, or, at the other end of the spectrum, those attributes that tie literature to particular national occurrences. Most of these models only tried to explain the relationship between modernity and the contemporary situation of the states in question; neither of them critically engaged with the underlining temporal logic that framed the conceptual allowing us to access and assess different scopes of existence in post-Yugoslavia.

According to Andrew Wachtel, the unity of the multinational and multi-ethnic state could not be achieved in the second Yugoslavia by political means, but only through the creation of a multicultural state based on “multicultural culture”. Wachtel assumes a notion of culture that homogenizes society and suppresses its political dimension. He attributes to literature, in the manner of M. Arnold and F. R. Leavis, the unifying role from which a multicultural culture was supposed to emerge.

There was co-existence of unifying and disintegrative mechanisms both before and after the breakup of Yugoslavia. The relationship between the Yugoslav and the post-Yugoslav period is not linear, rather it invites a different understanding of Aristotle’s concept of the structure of plot consisting of a beginning, a middle and an end. As Ricoeur demonstrated, it is impossible to impose a logical harmony on the breakup and to reduce the temporal structure of the plot to a sequence of instances.

The breakup was already there and yet to happen; it could be compared with Deleuze’s notion of the event which has just happened and which is about to happen, but is never happening. It can also be defined as a sudden rupture, or as a caesura. On the other hand, if we follow that line in defining the breakup, how should the actuality of the rupture be understood?   

The contemporary humanities were more concerned with the model of conflict in developing analyses of formations of identity, subjectivity and various modes of representations. The model of conflict emphasises disintegrative factors in the violent contact between agencies and entities, while leaving in the shadows that which is created and arises from these contacts. Even in the conflict, something new is de-/re-/composed, although that new is not necessarily liberated, emancipatory, redemptive. Still, the model of composition shifts theoretical attention from destructive to productive aspects of the conflict.

Although dealing with particulars, classic post-colonial scholarship fundamentally operates on the assumption of a global to local vector, and this notion is present in every and any topology that is bound to the idea of the defining struggle between East and West and its derivatives as a starting point.  We try to show how the specifics of nation-building processes in the former Yugoslav countries deviate from a model of transition that entails two finite sets occupying the beginning and end points of the process.

We would like to address the following questions:
1. What is the temporal structure of the relationship between Yugoslavia and post-Yugoslavia? Does any aspect of the post- emerge or appear in the political, social, cultural, economic and aesthetical framework of the first and second Yugoslavia? How does post- elude sequences of precedence and succession?
2. How are the strange loops of post- manifested in cultural, media and literary texts? How can we describe patterns of the post-? Is the post- of post-socialism/post-Yugoslavia/post-transition comparable with the post-temporalities of post-modernity/post-theory/post-colonialism?
3. Is it possible to rethink, reconceptualise and redefine oppositions such as fragmentarity vs. totality, discontinuity vs. continuity according to the model of composition? Think of Deleuze and Guattari’s readily forgotten caution regarding the body without the organ; as they stated, it must not be conflated with fragmentary organs without a body and with fragmentation. Think of Frederic Jameson’s defence of the notion of totality which was inspired by Deleuze and Guattari’s notions of the body without organs and their critique of interpretation. Is it possible to think of these binarisms which consist of a compatible notion and are yet still irreducible to each other?
4. How can we (re)describe concepts such as exile, melancholy, nostalgia, memory and various kinds of agency, such as transnationality, present in literary, media and cultural texts? What kind of temporal structure do such concepts entail? What is the theoretical character of those analytical concepts?  
5. Is a history of (post-)Yugoslav literature(s) (im)possible and what would a structure of its history look like? Why should one concern oneself with the idea of such a history?  Is it possible to identify temporal patterns that such a history needs to describe? How should we factor out political, economic, social, cultural, and aesthetical rhythms and dynamics and bring them into a non-reductive relationship?

We invite theoreticians and scholars from various disciplines to submit their contributions in order to respond to these and related questions.
Deadline for sending proposals:  February 5, 2018
Notification of acceptance: May 14, 2018

Please send your proposals with a presentation title, abstract (300 words max.) and a short author/presenter bio to by February 5, 2018.

More info about the project, available at the project website.

The event is funded by the Croatian Science Foundation.