[artinfo] Eastern Europe in the Times of Populist Revolt

ODD info at oddweb.org
Mon Sep 30 13:57:00 CEST 2019


"Fuck Off Polish Scum" - Eastern Europe in the Times of Populist Revolt

Jan Sowa

There was a time in the 90s when it seemed that 
all differences between the East and the West 
would have been blissfully overcome and, given 
enough time, Europe would unite into a homogenous 
social, cultural and economic entity. That was 
supposed to be our way of living through the end 
of history. Nowadays it is not only difficult to 
believe in that utopia, but even to understand 
how anyone could have come up with it in the 
first place. The division between the West and 
the East does not look like a Cold War residue 
nor like an invention of the Enlightenment as it 
was (in)famously claimed by Larry Wolff. Even a 
brief look at various maps of Europe, past and 
present - from contemporary air quality to 
expansion of the Roman Empire in 1 century AD to 
geography of serfdom in early modern times - 
reveals a deep cleavage separating the West and 
the East of the continent. Inferiority of the 
East is now experienced by those who emigrate to 
the West in a form of essentializing racism that 
puts Eastern Europeans in a bizarre and dangerous 
category of "off-white".

Monday, 30 September

The lecture Mapping the Real. Eastern Europe as a 
Subject of Lackpresented by Jan Sowa is going to 
explore the historical East-West division of the 
European continent.

Tuesday, 1 October
19:00 - 21:00
Please <mailto:info at oddweb.org>email info at oddweb.org to register.

The workshop entitled The East European Subaltern 
- Peripheral Inferiority and its Desublimation 
into the Populist Revolt (including a 
presentation of Janek Simon's work Synthetic 
Poles) will focus on the experience of Eastern 
Europeans in the West and its role in the spread 
of anti-European and anti-immigrant attitudes in 
the EU. The workshop will also aim at developing 
an alternative materialist framework allowing for 
a progressive political articulation of the 
Eastern European malaise.

Reading material is available on our website.

Jan Sowa (born 1976) is a dialectical-materialist 
social theorist and researcher. He holds a PhD in 
sociology and a habilitation in cultural studies, 
he concentrates on researching modernity. Author 
and editor of a dozen of books, including  Joy 
forever - political economy of social 
creativity and, in 2019, Solidarity 2.0 or 
Democracy as a Form of Life. His research and 
teaching assignments took him to several academic 
and non-academic institutions in Poland and 
abroad, recently, University of São Paulo, Warsaw 
University and Akademie der Künste der Welt in 
Cologne. Jan Sowa was the curator of discursive 
programs and research of Biennale Warszawa and he 
currently is associate professor at the 
Department of Culture Theory at the Academy of 
Fine Arts in Warsaw.

THEORY has been since the beginning an attempt to 
understand as well as to reconfigure, with the 
delicate means afforded by a small-scale 
initiative, the Romanian imaginary. It functioned 
as a learning and sharing tool, and in the 
current configuration succeeded in its initial 
bet of bringing together a community of curious 
and courageous people. The small following 
overlapped ODD's general following, but also 
managed to stand out as a work group of hybrid 
practitioners, one that is slowly developing 
common tools and initiatives.

In working with a collective imaginary, 
regardless of the scale of that collective, one 
has to face the challenge of the poor political 
imagination characterizing the contemporary 
world. Romania is, in that respect, eternally 
blocked in binaries which do not serve its 
citizens. The misery of catching up conflates 
with extremely narrow local politics, producing a 
public sphere in which important issues marking 
the world are never properly discussed. In that 
respect, ODD THEORY makes a point in choosing 
speakers who can deliver presentations and 
workshops on subjects that remain poorly known 
and understood on the local scene, topics which 
overlap and create a series of mind-opening 

ODD THEORY is curated by Cristina Bogdan.

A space for theoretical discussion and social 
gatherings of all kinds, ODD welcomes to 
Bucharest artists, writers, critics, 
philosophers, performers, scientists, activists. 
Through residencies and informal events such as 
discussions, workshops, reading groups, 
performances, ODD provides for a combination of 
intimacy and playfulness, dialogue and 
resistance, from which to act upon the world.
Project co-funded by the Administration of the 
National Cultural Fund. The project does not 
necessarily represent the position of the 
Administration of the National Cultural Fund. 
AFCN is not to be held responsible for the 
content of the project, nor for the ways in which 
the results of the project might be used. Those 
are entirely the responsibility of the 
beneficiary of the grant.

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