[spectre] CFP: Africa and the 'Other' Europe during the Cold War (Vilnius, 5-6 May 22)

Andreas Broeckmann broeckmann at leuphana.de
Tue May 25 07:35:27 CEST 2021

From: Karina Simonson
Date: May 24, 2021
Subject: CFP: Africa and the 'Other' Europe during the Cold War 
(Vilnius, 5-6 May 22)

Vilnius Academy of Arts, Lithuania, May 5–06, 2022
Deadline: Jun 20, 2021

Art beyond the Politics: Africa and the ‘Other’ Europe during the Cold War

An international conference exploring transcontinental cultural 
relations, representations, and imaginations that occurred and developed 
between the countries of Africa and Eastern and Central Europe during 
the Cold War era.

The countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) engaged substantively 
with many newly independent African states for economic, political, 
ideological, and cultural purposes during the Cold War. They were well 
regarded by African countries because of their non-imperial history and 
therefore alternative partnership approach. CEE countries provided 
support to liberation struggles, as well as offered large amounts of 
technical assistance and loans to partners in Africa. They developed new 
forms of global knowledge and institutions to support a wide-ranging 
program of socialist ‘export’: theatre and film, economic and scientific 
expertise, humanitarian aid and political ideals - all were essential to 
the grand effort to extend ‘socialist modernity’ globally. This also in 
return reshaped Central-Eastern Europe, as African students, workers and 
exiles imported African cultures into the region, alongside popular 
media, art, and political solidarity movements.

The links between Central-Eastern Europe and Africa suggest the 
importance of examining this still unconventional perspective on the 
configuration of the Cold War, which is traditionally viewed as 
centering around superpower rivalries. In contrast to the Western vision 
of one homogenous ‘Soviet bloc‘, the view from the Global South reveals 
evolving motivations and sometimes contradictory
aims of artistic mobilities from socialist countries, whether East 
Germany, the Soviet Union (including the Baltic States), Poland, 
Hungary, Yugoslavia, and Bulgaria, among others.

The cultural geography of the Cold War was inevitably shaped by a 
network of links between the Soviet and the US spheres under the new era 
of decolonization. A new expanding language of socialist ‘fraternity‘ 
across continents facilitated this exchange of cultures. Africa occupied 
the imagination of some CEE artists and writers as a way to escape one’s 
poor socialist reality and enter a new, open, and intriguing world. For 
many CEE citizens, Africa encapsulated the world outside the Soviet 
bloc, differing from it in almost every respect. Many saw it both as a 
chance for self-realisation, and as prospects for some tangible 
financial gains.

This conference aims to fill the lacuna of knowledge about both the 
actual and imaginary cultural links between Central-Eastern Europe and 
the African continent during the Cold War era. It proposes a 
reconsideration of whether and to what extent artistic exchanges between 
these non-Western contexts might escape historically developed power 
relations between Europe and Africa and its role in postcolonial and 
decolonial debates. Since neither Africa nor Central and Eastern Europe 
are homogenous and consist of countries with different historical and 
cultural backgrounds and contemporary realities, we especially invite 
the discussion of possible theoretical frameworks and research 
methodologies that overcome the objectification of Africa and/or Central 
Eastern Europe.

We seek to gather scholars, curators and artists working in the fields 
of art history, cultural studies, art, architecture, design, fashion, 
cinema and theatre, musicology, literary studies and other disciplines 
to explore the formation of cultural relations between the regions or 
particular states.

Potential topics include but are not limited to:
1. The discourse of colonisation/decolonisation/postcolonisation in art, 
art history and cultural history: African and CEE perspectives.
2. Transcontinental cultural relations, migration of artists, artworks, 
artefacts and ideas.
3. The images, dreams, and delusions of CEE in African countries.
4. The representation and reception of Africa in CEE countries.
5. Soviet Union/US struggle for influence in Africa: reflections, 
connections, parallels and contrasts in art, design and architecture.
6. Members of the Black diaspora as ambassadors of modernisation in CEE.
7. The process of ‘othering’ and cultural appropriations of African/CEE 
8. Issues of whiteness and race in CEE.
9. Curating African art collections in CEE museums.
10. Artworks of CEE artists, designers and architects in Africa: 
heritage, research, curatorship.

Conference academic committee:
Dr. Karina Simonson, Institute of Asian and Transcultural Studies, 
Vilnius University (Chair)
Inga Lace, C-MAP Central and Eastern Europe Fellow at MoMA
Dr. George Tebogo Mahashe, University of Cape Town
Dr. Laura Petrauskaite, Art Research Institute, Vilnius Academy of Arts
Dr. Bart Pushaw, University of Copenhagen
Dr. Aušra Trakšelyte, Art Research Institute, Vilnius Academy of Arts
Dr. Tomas Vaiseta, Faculty of History, Vilnius University
Accepted papers will be considered for publication in the peer-reviewed 
academic journal Acta Academiae Artium Vilnensis (2023 issue).

PLEASE SEND TO DR. KARINA SIMONSON (karina.simonson at vda.lt)

The selected participants will be notified by June 30th, 2021.

Conference fee: 50 EUR.

Reference / Quellennachweis:
CFP: Africa and the ‘Other’ Europe during the Cold War (Vilnius, 5-6 May 
22). In: ArtHist.net, May 24, 2021. <https://arthist.net/archive/34193>.

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