Decolonisation and Eastern European Art

Dorota Jagoda Michalska, University of Oxford,

Marta Zboralska, UCL/University of Essex,

This session will consider the place of Central and Eastern Europe within current debates about decolonisation. Historically, art from the region has occupied an ambivalent position vis-à-vis the Western canon. This ambivalence has long been used to the area’s advantage, enabling scholars to claim critical distance from dominant methodologies, narratives and epistemologies. However, the visual cultures of Eastern Europe are not immune from the material and historical legacies of colonialism – especially in terms of the region’s own imperial projects and fantasies, still reflected in the lack of counter-narratives to homogenous national histories. As part of the broader decolonisation project, how should we reorient our position as historians of Eastern European art and rethink the status of the subjects and objects of our study?

We are interested in exploring different approaches towards writing, teaching, curating and researching Eastern European art histories from a decolonial perspective. We therefore invite proposals concerning both wider debates and narrow case studies, and relating to all art-historical periods. Potential topics include, but are not limited to, the visual and material cultures of Eastern Europe and: race and racialisation; narratives of mono- and multiculturalism; socialist definitions of ‘modernity’; museology and museum collections; anti-imperialism and networks of socialist solidarity (e.g. artistic exchanges between the “Second World” and countries of the Non-Aligned Movement); postcolonial epistemologies (e.g. Roma culture and identity); anti-capitalist approaches towards knowledge production; decolonial perspectives on ethnographic and archaeological collections from the region.

Information about the speakers and papers on this panel will be posted shortly. 



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