2013-14 Pembroke Research Seminar
“Socialism and Post-Socialism”
Seminar Leader: Linda Cook
Professor of Political Science
Chesler-Mallow Senior Faculty Research Fellow, Pembroke Center
The year 2014 will mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and socialism’s collapse in Europe. The 2013-14 Pembroke Research Seminar will examine questions that 1989 raises for the social sciences and the humanities. This is an ideal time to reflect on 20th century socialism, as its nature remains contested both within and outside the societies where it existed. Historians, anthropologists, political scientists, literary and gender scholars all see the socialist era through different theoretical and methodological lenses, but all share a temporal framework that defines their questions and methods: before and after 1989. Social scientists will help the seminar develop topics on socialist transitions, public health, gender relations, distribution patterns, and ethnic identity. We also want to encourage participation of humanities scholars from history, science studies, literature, music, film and the creative arts on issues such as historical memory, communism and science, commemorations of socialism, and nostalgia. For the Pembroke Center’s international post-doctoral fellowship competition, scholars interested in socialism and post-socialism in different parts of the world and in feminist theory and Marxist theory are also encouraged to apply.
The seminar will take an interdisciplinary approach to the issues of socialism and post-socialism. Questions to be addressed include: How do canonical sources of socialist theory and practice relate to historical re-readings and contemporary appropriations? How did socialist states repress women, and at the same time liberate them? How did it produce stagnant economies such as the Soviet Union’s, and dynamic economies such as China’s? How was the Cold War constructed on both sides of the Iron Curtin? What are the contested effects of socialist and post-socialist national and class politics? Does the crisis of neo-liberal capitalism provide an opportunity for new and better leftist constructions of justice and freedom? What is the legacy of communism in contemporary socialisms and leftisms?