Call for contributions to publication on “Historicizing ‘Whiteness’ in Eastern Europe”

bogdan iacob's picture
Type: 
Call for Papers
Date: 
March 3, 2020
Location: 
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Eastern Europe History / Studies, Race Studies, Russian or Soviet History / Studies, Area Studies

Over the last decade, issues of migration both out of and into Eastern Europe as well as the resurgence of populism and authoritarianism have brought questions of ‘whiteness’ and its ‘defence’ into the public language of the region. However, race in general and whiteness in particular have for the most part been hidden discourses, absent from mainstream political or cultural thinking about the area itself. Despite the growing number of critical histories of whiteness both on a regional and global level, there has been little academic engagement with such questions in the study of Eastern Europe, including Russia, the USSR, or what is now the ‘post-Soviet’ space.

The publication aims to trace and theorise whiteness in Eastern Europe, and bring such analysis into dialogue with the global debates on the formation of racial orders and whiteness. We seek contributions that even when they concentrate on local/regional phenomena also connect these either historically or theoretically to broader issues in the literature on ‘whiteness’ as a global issue.

We intend to publish the collection with a major university press. The prospective volume already draws on selected papers from the proceedings of the conference “Historicizing ‘Whiteness’ in Eastern Europe and Russia” organized last summer in Bucharest within the project “Socialism Goes Global” (http://socialismgoesglobal.exeter.ac.uk/). However, we encourage scholars who have recently engaged with the topic to join us in a field-defining publication. 

The publication focuses on the following key themes:

- Establishing a Field. Why is the study of whiteness absent from the Eastern European research field, and what use does it have? Does it need to be present there? How can we translate a field developed in response to Atlantic history into Eastern European contexts, and what are the issues at stake in this translation? How to ‘make whiteness visible’ when it is often a ‘hidden script’?

- Global Context. How do we make our study relevant to the global interest in whiteness? To what extent does this type of regional history need to be studied in the context of global whiteness? What is the relationship between broader European colonial projects and eastern European whiteness? How has whiteness been related to the region’s changing relationships to the global capitalist system, including issues of class, dependency, sexuality, and migration? Are the notions of ‘peripheral’, ‘marginal’ or ‘frustrated’ whiteness useful? Is Eastern European whiteness different to other forms of whiteness? To what extent do engagements with Islam at home or abroad shape ideas of Eastern European whiteness?

- Development of the region, its nations and minorities. How does the insertion of whiteness change how we see processes of nation building? How has whiteness been implicated in the production of anti-Semitism, Romaphobia, and Islamophobia? What roles have questions of class, gender and sexuality played in narratives about Eastern European whiteness?

- Unity and Diversity. Can we talk of a regional phenomenon? How has whiteness been considered differently in south-eastern Europe versus central Europe versus the Russian/Soviet empires? For example: have experiences of being ruled by various empires, and differences in local religious assemblages, produced divergent conceptions over the longer term?

- External Perspectives/ Influences/ Receptions. How is Eastern European whiteness imagined/ utilised/ critiqued from outside the region?

We welcome contributions which address these issues from many disciplinary and perspectives, whether, for example, cultural history, intellectual and expert histories, sociology of everyday life and experience, geopolitics, geography, anthropology, media and communication studies and beyond.  

Abstracts of 300–500 words, together with an accompanying short CV, should be submitted to whitenesseasterneurope@gmail.com by 3 March 2020. The selected contributors will be notified within two weeks after the deadline. Please use the same e-mail for any queries regarding the publication.

Editors: Anikó Imre (University of Southern California), Catherine Baker (University of Hull), James Mark (University of Exeter), and Bogdan C. Iacob (Romanian Academy/Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies).