International Workshop organized by Ellen Rutten (ASCA) and Marina Mogilner (Ab Imperio/Kazan) Contact: Eva Peek <firstname.lastname@example.org>
|Start date||25 September 2013|
|End date||27 September 2013|
Mediation is a major factor in cultural transmission of all kinds, from literal translation to interpretation; from constructing memories to composing narratives (hegemonic and non-hegemonic alike); from “reading” social acts and body politics to “reading” explicit political messages. There is a long tradition of studying “mediators” – languages, media, schools, academia, states and other institutions; aesthetical and discursive conventions and different cultural spaces. However, the tradition of studying how mediation works in complex societies – empires, or culturally divided social spaces (after all, any modern society is a complex society) – is much shorter and much less self-reflexive. The Russian empire, the USSR, and post-Soviet Russia form an ideal archetypal case of a complex, hybrid society – one that allows for a discussion of theoretical issues that are formative to other countries and societies.
To Russian and (post-)Soviet society, mediation has been crucial: it produces effects of connectedness, enables communication, and generates feelings of belonging to a common cultural/political/economic sphere. The problem of mediation is particularly astute to the topical debate on Russian Orientalism. Academics have long debated whether Russian imperial scholars, writers, and artists shared in the pan-European discourses of Orientalism – and in the Russian Empire and USSR, mediation meant not only a transmission of knowledge and signs between cultural and political groups within the empire, but also the importation, appropriation, rejection or adaptation of dominant yet foreign scenarios of life, cultural creativity, and scholarly pursuits.
Taking its theoretical cues from these and related developments, Media, Memory and Empire is a 2-day workshop that unites fifteen experts of media (a field deeply consonant with mediation), memory, and (empire) history from Europe and the US. Together, they not only examine mediation as a historical phenomenon in Russian-cum-Soviet society; but they also explore which ‘hegemonic’ discourses and institutions are most successful in mediating diversity in modern complex societies.