[artinfo] CFP: Cultural Exchanges between USSR and Popular Democracies

by way of János Sugár ab at mikro.in-berlin.de
Sun Jun 19 21:32:35 CEST 2016

From: Alina Popescu <popescualinaa at yahoo.fr>
Date: Jun 19, 2016
Subject: CFP: Cultural Exchanges between USSR and 
Popular Democracies (Bucharest, 16-17 Jul16)

Bucharest, Romania, July 16 - 17, 2016

Deadline: Jun 26, 2016

La place du grand frère. Cultural Exchanges 
Between the Soviet Union and the Popular 
Democracies during the Communist Era

The role played by the USSR in the popular 
democracies in Central and Eastern Europe is both 
overestimated and underestimated in current 
works. It is overestimated in numerous studies, 
which consider the imposing force of the 
"Soviet-type model" to have been acquired when 
these countries fell under the Soviet sphere of 
influence at the end of World War II. The mere 
definition of the model per se was however 
anything but clear; its transplantation had many 
loopholes and the adoption of this model showed 
significant discrepancies depending on the 
periods and areas taken into consideration. It is 
underestimated since the entire array of 
exchanges made with the USSR during the socialist 
period have rarely been fully considered, given 
that the USSR was one of the main destinations 
chosen by the various players of the socialist 
stage. This historiographical situation of both 
over- and under-estimation may be explained, to a 
large extent, by the sources mobilised at the 
time: on the one hand, the discourse celebrating 
the collaboration with the Soviet "big brother" 
and, on the other hand, the accounts made after 
1989, which often fail to mention the connections 
with the USSR (favouring the ones with the 
Western world). Another two factors which also 
interfered with the historiographical reflexion 
were the emphasis placed on the memories of the 
big geopolitical crises which led to Soviet 
military intervention (in 1953 in East Berlin, in 
1956 in Budapest and in 1968 in Prague), and the 
evolution of the relations between each of these 
countries and the Russian power following the 
fall of the Berlin Wall.

Through this conference, we propose that this 
issue be readdressed again, and we invite 
researchers working on the topic of the USSR and 
the popular democracies to debate on the topic so 
as to reflect on the sources and notions used to 
report such exchanges. We shall focus on cultural 
exchanges in fields such as theatre, literature, 
music, visual arts, architecture and 
cinematography. The various ways in which the 
Soviet-type model was received replay the whole 
story of the Soviet presence and its versions in 
the various countries. By bringing together the 
various national histories, we may acquire an 
overall comparative understanding of how each 
country shaped its own cultural communist 
experience. How can the cultural field support us 
in rethinking the question of the Soviet presence 
in the East? This international conference aims 
to put the evolutions of the relations between 
the popular democracies and the USSR into 
perspective though culture. We also hope to reach 
a better understanding of a topic we now know 
little of: did the Soviets have any interest in 
what was happening within the popular 
democracies? Do we need to consider cultural 
transfers from the popular democracies to the 

The participants are invited to reflect upon several lines of approach:

1. The cultural institutions and policies. 
Contributions on this topic could look into the 
role of cultural associations, "creative and 
professional unions" or cultural administration 
institutions, concerning activities such as the 
definition of cultural policies, the 
establishment of cultural agreements, the 
performance of protocol or documentation visits, 
the transfer of experts, the imposition or the 
reclassification of the artistic or literary 
creation models.

2. The cultural actors and the cross-border 
networks. The considerations on this topic should 
emphasise the routes taken by the intellectuals, 
artistes and experts in various cultural fields, 
or by the representatives of administrative and 
political structures who were initiators, 
mediators or beneficiaries of the exchanges and 
circulation to the East, or those who were 
excluded from them. The proposals could relate 
to, amongst other things, the biographies of 
people involved in cultural commerce activities, 
the artistic and intellectual background of those 
trained in the USSR, the cross-border cultural 
exchange network, etc.

3. The dissemination, reception, circulation and 
re-appropriation of the discourses, know-how, 
practices and goods. The contributions on this 
axis could delve into how the public, the 
cultural agents or the political and 
administrative authorities perceived the Soviet 
culture, and how the Soviets perceived the 
culture of its sister-countries, respectively. 
How did the popular democracies accommodate the 
things the Soviets sent to them? What did the 
collaborations between the various countries and 
the USSR focus on precisely? What were the 
official or clandestine circuits for people and 
works? What were the advantages or disadvantages 
of the exchanges with the USSR? In which artistic 
forms was the political and cultural power of the 
"Soviet Big Brother" celebrated or challenged?

4. The geography of cultural exchanges. What role 
was played by the Soviet Republics bordering the 
popular democracies (the Republics of Ukraine, 
Byelorussia and Moldova) in the exchanges with 
the centre and the other countries in the Soviet 
bloc? Did this movement benefit from the 
geographical proximity? More generally, which 
cities (besides Moscow and Leningrad) and regions 
in the USSR, and which cities and regions in 
Eastern Europe, were concerned by these 
exchanges? What does the movement map look like 
for this period?

The paper proposals (title and abstract of a 
maximum of 500 words), accompanied by a short 
biographical note (a maximum of 10 lines), should 
be submitted before June 26, 2016 to the e-mail 
addresses: popescualinaa at yahoo.fr and 
luciadragomir at gmail.com. Their acceptance will be 
notified, at the latest, on June 30, 2016.

The working language will be mainly French, but 
papers in English will also be accepted. The 
conference proceedings will be subject to 
publication. Travel and accommodation expenses 
will be refunded within the limits of the 
available budget. When submitting a proposal, 
attendees should mention whether they wish to 
benefit from this refund.

Organising committee:
Jérôme Bazin (Paris-Est Créteil Val-de-Marne University)
Lucia Dragomir (University of Bucharest)
Dragos Jipa (EDSS - CEREFREA Villa Noël, University of Bucharest)
Alina Popescu (ISP - Paris Ouest Nanterre la 
Défense University/University of Bucharest)
Caterina Preda (University of Bucharest)

Partner Institutions
Centre Régional Francophone de Recherches 
Avancées en Sciences Sociales (CEREFREA Villa 
Noël) - Université de Bucarest
Centre de recherche en histoire européenne 
comparée (CRHEC) - Université Paris-Est Créteil 
Agence universitaire de la Francophonie - Bureau 
Europe centrale et orientale (AUF BECO)
École doctorale francophone en sciences sociales 
(EDSS - CEREFREA Villa Noël) - Université de 
Institut des Sciences sociales du Politique (ISP) 
- Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense

Scientific committee:
Jérôme Bazin - Lecturer, CRHEC - Paris Est Créteil Val-de-Marne University
Lucia Dragomir - Lecturer, Faculty of  Letters, University of Bucharest
Liliana Deyanova - Professor, Faculty of 
Sociology, University of Sofia « St.Climent 
Ohridski »
Alina Popescu - Researcher, ISP - Paris Ouest 
Nanterre la Défense University /University of 
Caterina Preda - Lecturer, Faculty of Political 
Science, University of Bucharest
Jean-Charles Szurek - Research Director, CNRS

Reference / Quellennachweis:
CFP: Cultural Exchanges between USSR and Popular 
Democracies (Bucharest, 16-17 Jul16). In: 
H-ArtHist, Jun 19, 2016. 

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