search the archive
search the archive
Alternative Culture Now: The Politics of Culture at the Present Conjuncture (April 8-10, 2010)
full name / name of organization:
The International Alternative Culture Center
Alternative Culture Now: The Politics of Culture at the Present Conjuncture
Proposal Deadline: January 25, 2010
How do things stand with respect to the fate of the alternative? Branded and normativized, incorporated into a whole ensemble of mainstream discourses, and no longer the threat it once posed to capitalist and communist states alike, the political and social force of the alternative seems to have faded away. And yet the dream of the alternative continues to inspire political and social movements, artists, theorists, and all kinds of creative practices. How might we begin to situate and think alternativity as a global phenomenon at this precise conjuncture in world history? What is alternative about culture today? And what might or can it become?
The alternative, of course, has always been phraseable in the singular and the plural. On the one hand, it is a phenomenon locked into local configurations, a multi-polar and non-totalizable practice of myriad deviation. Here, its ambit can be that of a family drama or workplace, a national concatenation, or the homogenizing logic of a dominant cultural medium or genre. The dreams it holds in reserve are vitally minor: the fissuring of a regime with a joke or dissidence, the freedom mobilized in small, almost imperceptible defections or reversals. The production of the alternative is in this sense the aggregate, spontaneous effort of innumerable cultural agents to resist every species of stasis and capture, every grammar and vernacular, every gestural hierarchy and total system.
At the same time, this molecular vision of the alternative, of a plurality of fissions and margins, has always been accompanied by attempts to think what it is in the tendency of a moment which suppresses cultural possibilities on a global level. This is a dream of a communication or inter-mediation between margins, a system of deviances which comprehensively address the conditions which negatively hypostatize the life of the virtual. Global patriarchy, violent state expansionisms, the inhibiting logics of capital, and the globalization of the English language can be envisioned as transnational, systematized normativities that threaten cultural specificity or possibility in a way that is never exhausted by its expression on the register of the local. Is there, in this sense, only one alternative: an alternative to which there is no alternative? This notion of a single alternative—a universal difference necessary to shelter the future lives of difference--immediately sets into motion its own paradoxical dialectics of alternativity, itself appearing to erase the thing it promises. How do we escape this vortex, or at least make its impasses productive?
Is one alternative more important than another? Can alternatives be exhausted or rendered obsolete? What kind of method could we develop to test the valences of alternatives? Can or should alternative culture polemically charge the space of its own marginality, or would this degenerate into an infinite sectarianism?
We understand “alternative culture” to include diverse forms of cultural expression and activity, which are connected by their shared goal of creating just, humane, and equitable human relations by means of their opposition to existing cultural, social, and political forms. This conference encourages contributions from scholars, educators, artists, cultural workers, policy makers, journalists, and others involved in alternative culture and international cultural policies. We are especially interested in contributions addressing alternative culture in Central/Eastern Europe and countries/regions of the former Soviet Union.
Areas of inquiry for submissions may include, but are not limited to, the following general topics in relation to the politics of alternative culture today:
Aesthetics – Collectivity – post-Communist Culture - Creativity - Cultural Studies - Eastern Europe – Geography –Globalization - Higher Education – Media - Memory/Nostalgia – Music - New Media - ex-Socialist History - ex-Soviet Urban Spaces - Visual Culture
The “Alternative Culture Now: The Politics of Culture at the Present Conjuncture” conference will take place at the OSA Archivum in Budapest, Hungary, April 8-10, 2010. It is organized and sponsored by the International Alternative Culture Center, with the support of the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology (Central European University) and the Canada Research Chair in Cultural Studies (University of Alberta). The conference format will be diverse, including paper presentations, panels, round-table exchanges, artistic performances, and exhibitions. We encourage individual and collaborative paper and panel proposals from across the disciplines and from artists and community members.
Paper Submissions should include: (1) contact information; (2) a 300-500 word abstract; and (3) a one page curriculum vitae or a brief bio.
Panel Proposals should include: (1) a cover sheet with contact information for chair and each panelist; (2) a one-page rationale explaining the relevance of the panel to the theme of the conference; (3) a 300 word abstract for each proposed paper; and (4) a one page curriculum vitae for each presenter.
Please submit individual paper proposals or full panel proposals via e-mail attachment by January 25, 2010 to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Alternative Culture Now.” Attachments should be in .doc or .rtf formats. Submissions should be one document (i.e. include all required information in one attached document).
Conference Organizing Team: Sarah Blacker (University of Alberta, Canada), Jessie Labov (Ohio State, USA), Andrew Pendakis (University of Bonn, Germany), Justin Sully (McMaster University, Canada), Imre Szeman (University of Alberta, Canada), Maria Whiteman (University of Alberta, Canada), and Olga Zaslavskaya (OSA, Hungary)