CFP: Post-Socialist Prospects and Contemporary Communisms in Art History

From Anthony Gardner to H-ArtHist:

CFP: Post-Socialist Prospects and Contemporary Communisms in Art History

Panel at the 2011 Association of Art Historians’ Annual Conference,
The University of Warwick, United Kingdom, 31 March – 2 April 2011

From the writings of Slavoj Zizek or Jean-Luc Nancy to landmark conferences such as ‘On the Idea of Communism’ (London, 2009), a significant strand of contemporary philosophy has sought renewed critical potential within forms of socialism and communism that were supposedly outmoded by the global spread of neoliberal capitalism. Indeed, two decades after the seismic shifts of 1989, we might even say that the legacies of communism and socialism have returned to the forefront of Western thinking. Can we therefore speak of post-socialist aesthetics and politics within contemporary art?

This session considers the challenges that post-socialist art histories can present for contemporary “global” theory. In particular, we want to examine how¬†different communist legacies, written and as-yet-unwritten, in Asia, Latin America, Africa as well as Europe, might allow us to re-imagine present cultural conditions. Are there consistent forms that these¬† post-socialist aesthetics take? Which histories of communism (“official”, “dissident”, etc.) are the foundations for these legacies? And how can art historians work productively with cross-generational and trans-cultural understandings (and misunderstandings) of communism, without lapsing into nostalgic or anachronistic narratives? This session seeks a rigorous and critical examination of the specific forms, historical origins and socio-cultural effects that art’s post-socialist prospects and contemporary communisms may have taken. We especially encourage papers that conceive post-socialism as a hinge for unlocking a different global dimension of art’s modern and contemporary histories.

Please send proposals for a paper to the conveners by 8 November 2010 at:

Dr Anthony Gardner (The Courtauld Institute of Art):
Dr Klara Kemp-Welch (The Courtauld Institute of Art):