Traveling Concepts: Postcommunist Perspectives on Postcolonial Studies
The post-1989 transition of East Central Europe to capitalist democracy has focused much scholarly attention on the political and economic trajectories of the countries in the former Eastern bloc and on the fostering of new identities within a wider, European or global, context. Yet, insofar as cultural analysis is concerned, the attempts to establish transregional comparisons that would tackle the similarities and differences between postcommunist territories and former colonies have generally met with a strong initial resistance among the proponents of postcolonial studies. In the last few years, the postcolonial-postcommunist connection gained momentum in East Central European studies and related fields, largely as a result of the attempts to translate a specific historical and cultural experience into one of the most widespread theoretical idioms in current academia. Scholars with various backgrounds are thus starting to interrogate the limits of an increasingly canonical discipline and join in its critical revaluations by measuring colonialism and its aftermath against other systems of domination. The present project aims at exploring the grounds for comparison between postcolonial and postcommunist realities, hence addressing the issue of regional identity within the broader context of transnationalism and globalization. It focuses on the interest groups and audiences involved in the shaping of this particular research field, while at the same time discussing the relevance of the postcommunist perspective in reviving the debate around the conceptual inventory, methodological tools, and main assumptions of the various theories of postcoloniality.
Anca Baicoianu holds a PhD in Literary Theory from the University of Bucharest with a dissertation on “Strategies of Identity (Re)Construction in Postcolonial and Postcommunist Literatures”. Her published works focus mainly on the processes of identity construction as embedded in postcolonial and postcommunist literatures, as well as on the relationships between history, memory and fiction in contemporary literature and the visual arts. A Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Bucharest and the Maison des sciences de l’homme in Paris, she currently works at the University of Bucharest.