The Tropics of Resistance:
Languages, Genres, Rhetoric


Research Center for Postcolonial and Post-totalitarian Studies at the Faculty of Philology, Wroclaw University,

May 27-28, 2015


Research Center for Postcolonial and Post-Totalitarian Studies invites you to the inaugural conference of our network.
We propose to explore the topic of resistance in communism/socialism, especially as discursive practice in cultural texts of literature, life-writing, political essays and manifestos, journalism, documentary writing, fine arts and film.
The focus on languages, genres and rhetoric in articulations and practices of anti-communist resistance (which also includes resistance against the oppressive totalitarian state) is of utmost importance in developing grounds for a comprehensive understanding of cultures of resistance in Central and Eastern European countries under communist rule. Resistance and language awareness was definitely a trademark (for want of a better word) of opposition in the communist bloc.
The phenomenon, however, still lacks a synoptic yet nuanced methodology for a critical comparative reading of its converging and diverging forms in the cultural and political geography of our region.
Interestingly, for the critical work dedicated to resistance effects of the very operations of language in countries under the communist rule, by comparison little attention to the issues of resistance can be observed in postcolonial studies. Veneration for the prophets of anti-colonial revolution like Amilcar Cabral or Franz Fanon does not translate into a systematic study of resistance as action, agency, and, concomitantly, discourse. This is for some reason that one of the major dictionary-type compilations of postcolonial terminology by classics of postcolonial studies: Ashcroft, Griffiths, Tiffin, Key Concepts in Post-Colonial Studies (Routledge, 2001) does not even have a separate entry for “resistance” (granted, it does have an entry “anti-colonialism”, which does acknowledge the role of anti-colonial struggle in freedom fighting, but also, symptomatically, limits it by and large to political action in one historical moment solely). Notably, Postcolonialism/Postcommunism – a Dictionary of Key Cultural Terms by Bottez, Alexandru, Radulescu, Stefanescu, Visan (Bucharest University Press, 2011), lists “resistance”.  Barbara Harlow’s seminal study Resistance Literature (Methuen, 1987), focusing on Third World revolutionary literary writing, lacks, also symptomatically, even a scant reference to the then teeming revolutionary and resistance literatures in Central and Eastern Europe. However, resistance and opposition is written into postcolonial criticism since its inception and throughout.
Marxist critics accusing postcolonial critics of shunning the historical importance of resistance (Benita Parry. Neil Lazarus, Timothy Brennan); Eastern and Central European critics accusing postcolonial studies of lack of interest in dependence from European empires within Europe as a defining experience of modernity for the region; postcolonial critics, for a change, expanding their space of cultural interest globally in a gesture of all-inclusive limitlessness at the loss of analytical precision and accountability – we would like to encourage conference participants to consider these mutual omissions, and many others, in our attempt to develop and consolidate a new, connective methodology for a comparative study on resistance and its fascinating acts in language, culture and politics.

Some of the areas we might consider include, but are not limited to:

  • The cultural specifics of Eastern/Central European resistance: irony, double-coding. Did it develop into a separate mode of encrypted and, often, transnational communication in the region?
  • Traditions of resistance and resistance against traditions in launching new forms of resistance
  • Performative resistance in acts of undoing the totalitarian state by laughter
  • Genres carrying the load of oppositionality in respective national literatures
  • National resistance and civic resistance – similarities, differences, locations
  • Historiographies of resistance and their contemporary evaluations, especially in postdependence studies
  • Agency sites in resistance acts – how was resistance possible in a totalitarian state?
  • The role of literature, arts and public intellectuals in anti-totalitarian revolutions
  • Resistance and gender – the gender of resistance?
  • Inter-class consolidation in resistance movements
  • Transnational connections – comparing resistance histories and practices
  • Nostalgic and/or conservative revolts in post-communist transition
  • How do national/regional histories of resistance translate into or relate to an opposition (structured and regular or only occasional)  against the capitalist world order? What rhetoric of resistance has survived or emerged?

Organizing Committee:
Prof. dr. habil. Hana Cervinkova, Educational Anthropology and Cultural Studies, Lower Silesian University, the Czech Academy of Science
Dr. Dorota Kołodziejczyk, Postcolonial Studies Center, Institute of English Studies, Wrocław University
Prof. dr. habil. Agnieszka Matusiak, Center for Studies on Post-Totalitarianisms, Chair of Ukrainian Studies, Institute of Slavic Studies, Wrocław University

Conference secretaries: Mateusz Świetlicki, MA and Aniela Radecka, MA

Paper titles and abstracts due: 25 March 2015 (please submit your 300-word abstract for a 20-minute presentation along with your title, affiliation, audio-visual requirements and a brief biographical at

2016-06-23; 10:45 

Trauma as cultural palimpsests: (post)communism against the background of comparative modernities, totalitarianisms, and (post)coloniality, Wroclaw 2016


2016-06-02 10:29 

Conference fee
2016-04-21 10:26 

Dear Participants of the ‘Trauma as Cultural Palimpsests’ Conference,

You are requested to make payment for the conference fee of 50 EUR via bank transfer to the bank account of the University of Wrocław. Please use the account details below:


Account holder: Uniwersytet Wrocławski, Wydział Filologiczny
Address: pl. Uniwersytecki 1, 50-137 Wrocław, Polska

EUR account: SWIFT code: WBKPPLPP  
PL 41 1090 2398 0000 0001 1131 5074

Please remember that the EUR account requires you to input the SWIFT code as listed above (!!!). Please include all the bank costs on the payer’s side.

Every payment should contain the following description: 

‘7003/0009/16 – opłata konferencyjna za: 
The payment deadline is 23 May 2016.

Should you require an invoice, please respond to this e-mail with all the data needed.
With regards,
The Organizing Committee.


Trauma as cultural palimpsests
2015-12-09 09:52 

Trauma as cultural palimpsests:
(post)communism against the background of comparative modernities, totalitarianisms, and (post)coloniality,
2-3 June 2016

Call for papers

The trauma inflicted on societies under communist regimes and post-traumatic symptoms manifesting themselves across the whole spectrum of public discourses remains one of the most painfully under-researched problems in the study of Central and East European (CEE) cultures. The conference aims to investigate the multiple forms of totalitarian trauma and of the (post-)traumatic transition period in the region. The assessment of the totalitarian pasts has been the object of divisive and partial political debates, themselves, at times, no more than post-traumatic symptoms at the discursive level. The conference aims to investigate the seriality of trauma in the recent history of CEE (from ghettos to gulags to globalization, from Holocaust to communist and postcommunist mass killings, from concentration camps to immigration camps etc.), as well as the palimpsestic interplay between the different historical and experiential layers of cultural distress.
We encourage potential participants to propose inter-/trans-disciplinary approaches and to devise comparative frameworks which may accommodate trauma studies, transition studies, postdependence studies, postcommunist studies, and postcolonial studies. We welcome transhistorical and transregional accounts of massive traumas of the 20th century in CEE and elsewhere, such as the extermination of the Armenians in the Ottoman Turkey in 1915, the Holocaust and Nazi extermination policies in WW2, the Indian Partition, the Balkan War, or the Rwandan genocide, to name but a few. Attention may be given to the ideological foundation of the breakthroughs of 1989/1991, including the role, contribution and importance of oppositional socio-cultural movements and the emigration (for instance, the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, the Polish October of 1956, the intellectual movements of the 1960s generation in USSR, the Prague Spring, 1968 in Poland (with the ensuing mass eviction of the Polish citizens of Jewish nationality under the umbrella slogan of purging the Party from the Zionist element), the strikes of Polish workers in December of 1970 and June of 1976, Helsinki Accords of 1975, “Solidarity” [“Solidarność”], the announcement of glasnost and perestroika in the USSR in 1985, the Polish Round Table Talks in 1989, the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and so on).
Suggested Themes:
• Hidden/forgotten/silenced discourses: topics prohibited or manipulated by the communist regime of /in the official political-social-cultural space including the colonization of Eastern Borderlands (Kresy Wschodnie) by the Second Polish Republic; the politically designed famine in the Ukrainian SSR; the extermination of intelligentsia in the Soviet Union in the 1930s; the Gulags; 1939 and the Second World War confronted with Nazism and Stalinism; collaboration with the Nazis; Stalinist and Nazi crimes; the UPA (The Ukrainian Insurgent Army) from the Ukrainian and Polish perspectives; the post-war massive repatriations/resettlements/expulsions of local populations of diverse ethnicities in the name of mono-national state (and the especially traumatic eviction of the German minorities); the Operation “Vistula”; the Hungarian Revolution of 1956; the Berlin Wall and the political division of Germany; the post-war collaboration of intellectuals with the communist regime; repressions of the Church and religious organizations;
• Mass-media vs. the simulacral totalitarian reality;
• Post-memory: spectral returns of the past in inter-generational transfer;
• Geopolitics of memory and trauma;
• Postcommunist remembrance between reenactment and recovery of cultural trauma;
• Psychological/Psychoanalytical accounts of postcommunist PTS – Pros and Cons;
• Traumarbeit;
• The role of empathy, solidarity, identification, projection in postcommunist trauma cultures;
• Complications of cultural trauma: anachronism, anatopism, and multidirectional memory [Rothberg], triangular suffering, traumatized perpetrators;
• Eastern Europe as a site for double/multiple colonization;
• Layers of historical and structural trauma, traumatic loss (event-generated) vs. traumatic absence (environment-conditioned);
• Everyday affections and experience in (post-)traumatic societies;
• Epistemological violence and the colonization of critical discourse in Postcommunism/postcommunist studies;
• Cultural interference, interpolation, crossways in post-traumatic communities;
• Postcommunist hollow (wo)men;
• Silence and verbosity in posttraumatic discourse;
• The cultural language(s)/discourse(s) of trauma;
• Trauma storying and the narratology of trauma recounting;
• Victim and perpetrator cultural profiles;
• Trauma deviance: trauma queens, the melotraumatic, victimization and conspiracy fixations.

Application: Submit a 250-300 word proposal with keywords for an unpublished paper and a bio-note by 31 January 2016. You will be notified by 15 February 2016.
Conference language: English and Polish
Conference fee: 250 PLN/50 EUR (does not include the hotel accommodation, information on the bank account and accommodation will follow)

E-mail for abstract submissions:

Organizing Committee:
Prof. Bogdan Stefanescu (English Studies, Bucharest University)
Prof. dr. hab. Agnieszka Matusiak (Ukrainian Studies, Wrocław University)
Dr. Dorota Kołodziejczyk (English Studies, Wrocław University)
Dr. Dorota Żygadło-Czopnik (Bohemia Studies, Wrocław University)

Conference Secretary:
Aniela Radecka (PhD Student, Wrocław University),
Jędrzej Olejniczak (PhD Student, Wrocław University).

Wydział Filologiczny Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego

The Faculty of Letters actively cooperates with science, education and cultural institutions in Poland, and supports a variety of educational, research and cultural incentives

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