2016 Symposium

The 2016 Annual SOYUZ Symposium

“Politics of Difference: Migration, Nation, Postsocialist Left and Right?”

Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies

University of Chicago

March 11-12, 2016

Call for Papers

The SOYUZ theme this year gains immediacy and poignancy from the migration and refugee crisis in Europe in Autumn 2015.  While some leaders repudiate migrants from points east by calling for a “Christian” Europe, others welcome them as a Christian gesture.  Such differences are not new to postsocialism.  Religion, out-migration, borders, nationality have been flash points repeatedly. The conference will examine these and other forms of difference-making within and across contemporary postsocialist contexts. Economic globalization and the integration of eastern Europe into the European Union have provided the context for postsocialist transformation.  Yet, such projects of integration have encouraged new articulations of difference and reframed old ones: Minorities, diasporas, east-west relations, techno-environmental differences and border-disputes. Neo-nationalist groups rail against in-migrants and minorities at the same time as nation-branding projects posit national distinctiveness as a lure for foreign investment and tourism.  Narratives of “culture wars” vilifying differences of sexual orientation and life-style have erupted, opposing conservative religious and political groups to the purportedly cosmopolitan values of “the West.”  New xenophobias and homophobias compete with discourses of tolerance, each staking claims to what constitutes belonging and civilization.  Deep discontent over waves of neoliberalization, austerity, corruption and kleptocracies have reconfigured economic polarization as political difference, with Left and Right both taking on new valences within an increasingly agitated political spectrum.

We therefore invite proposals for research papers that address the politics of difference – broadly understood – in the postsocialist world. How have postsocialist histories driven new articulations of difference and to what effect?   How do contemporary politics of postsocialist difference-making resemble, draw on, differ from, or challenge antecedents in the last century?  What new political horizons might contemporary articulations of difference – left and right – suggest?  Finally, how might the critical analysis of global postsocialism inform the scholarly investigation of the politics of difference more broadly?  As always, at SOYUZ, other topics of research on postsocialism that are not directly related to this theme are also welcome.


Abstracts of up to 250 words should be sent to ceeres@uchicago.edu by November 15, 2015.

Please include your full name, affiliation, and paper title. Write “SOYUZ 2016” in the subject line of your email. Papers will be selected and notifications made by December 15, 2015.

The Soyuz Research Network for Postsocialist Cultural Studies is an interdisciplinary forum for exchanging work based on field research in postsocialist countries, ranging from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union to Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. Soyuz is an interest group in the American Anthropological Association (AAA) and an official unit of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES). The Soyuz symposium has met annually since 1991 and offers an opportunity for scholars to interact in a more personal setting.