11.04.2021 in Marburg, Germany

CfP: De-Layering Through Technology: Politics, Culture and Society in Central and Eastern Europe following the Digital Turn

Link to this post: https://www.pol-int.org/en/node/9398

This special issue of the Journal of East Central European Studies (ZfO), will be devoted to the study of asymmetries of technological advancement and their impact on politics, society and culture through the example of the recent history of Central and Eastern Europe. We are approaching the rapid ongoing digitalization in the region as a chance to de-layer the traditional hierarchies and to create alternative systems of order in culture, politics and society.

De-Layering Through Technology: Politics, Culture and Society in Central and Eastern Europe following the Digital Turn

Until recently, technological development had kept pace with the globalization processes. Successive inventions and technological innovations 'shrank' the world, starting from the Age of Discovery, throughout the industrialization of the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries up to the advent of the digital era.

The end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, as it seemed, put an end to the long-lasting controversy about the merits of two world systems. Leaving behind the legacies of communism, the states in Central and Eastern Europe aspired to catch up with the West, by linking together political democratization, economic prosperity, technological advancement and cultural pluralism. Thirty years after, the introduction and rapid expansion of the Internet and new forms of media, as well as their increasing impact on politics, culture and society, encourages us to re-consider this linkage.

The recent political developments across the world demonstrate that the expansion of information technologies and the consequent social change is not necessarily a result of political democratization and economic growth. On the contrary, these processes seem to be rather asymmetric and multimodal, and the digital boom can adjoin the rise of informational autocracy. Whereas the technology produced on the periphery can acquire a world-wide meaning, and the hyperlocal media can become a global newsmaker. Simultaneously, this logic often contradicts that of the corresponding national state, which causes a scattering of social and cultural practices.

To be sure, access to and the use of digital technologies is still distributed disproportionally. And when it comes to the speed and scope of globalization processes the geographical and political categories should not be underestimated. Simultaneously, for the areas traditionally underrepresented in the power hierarchies, the thrive of technological innovation can create unexpected opportunities and open alternative pathways. Thus, recent political developments in several countries of Central and Eastern Europe have proven the potential of alternative media for political mobilization and horizontal grassroots activity.

In this special issue, we would like to study these asymmetries of technological advancement and their impact on politics, society and culture through the example of the recent history of Central and Eastern Europe. We are approaching the rapid ongoing digitalization in the region as a chance to de-layer the traditional hierarchies and to create alternative systems of order in culture, politics and society.

It has already been argued that both the locally developed technologies, as well as the imported ones, activate the networks of conditions resting on a variety of factors (e.g. cultural or territorial) and resources (e.g. natural or human).

A new practice of art history, for example, traditionally focused on Europe, nowadays constitutes a global set of discourses, which often prioritize formerly peripheral regions. Whereas global networks diminished the importance of place and tradition, new media offer alternative virtual platforms for connecting the local heritages across the globe. At the same time, when it comes to interregional and/or global cooperation, digitalization can carry some risks, for example, the misunderstanding of meanings. The need for alternative or at least completed standards and criteria for locally-focused research have become apparent. The best example is the thesauri and authority files.

Another aspect we would like to touch upon is the vast opportunities that the digital turn has opened in the context of specific political and economic situations in Central and Eastern European countries. It has often become an area of activity, but also a vent for various centrifugal actions, both in cultural and political fields.

We are looking for contributions (articles and discussion essays) addressing (but not limited to) the following issues:
- Development of digital technologies in Central and Eastern Europe in relation or contrast to Western countries and their role in dismantling orders and divisions
- Emancipation and democratization processes resulting from or fostered by the Digital Turn
- Local, regional and national identities and their reconfiguration at a time of rapid digitalization
- New artistic and cultural practices, their impact on political mobilization
- Examples of international institutional cooperation in digital projects: objectives, challenges, methods
- Digital networks and new narratives: chances and challenges for the re-definition of information flows, knowledge transfer and linking
- Specific challenges for the documentation of cultural heritage in Eastern and Central Europe in the context of Linked Open Data (LOD)

Please, send the proposals of approximately 500 words to the editors together with a short CV (3-5 lines) by April 11, 2021. The notice of acceptance will follow in April 2021. The full-articles (comprising 50 000-60 000 characters) and discussion essays (30 000-40 000 characters) (without spaces; incl. footnotes) are due to October 1, 2021.

References:
Bush, Daniel, "No modest voices: social media and the protest in Belarus", Standfort Internet Observatory, retrieven via https://fsi.stanford.edu/news/no-modest-voices-social-media-and-protests-belarus.
Dovbysh, Olga, "Do digital technologies matter? How hyperlocal media is re-configuring the media landscape of a Russian province", Journalism 2020, retrieved via https://doi.org/10.1177/1464884920941966.
Dzisah, Wilberforce Sefakor, The Media Democracy Paradox in Ghana. Rethinking Political Communication in an African Context (Intellect Books, 2020).
Graham, Brian, "Heritage: Unity in Diversity?" In Art History and Visual Studies in Europe. Transnational Discourses and National Frameworks, ed. by Rampley, Matthew et al. (Brill: Leiden-Boston 2012), 41-58.
Gritsenko, Daria, Mariëlle Wijermars and Mikhail Kopotev, The Palgrave Handbook of Digital Russia Studies (Palgrave McMilan, Cham, 2021), DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-42855-6.
Guriev, Sergei and Daniel Treisman, „Informational autocrats", Journal of Economic Perspectives, Volume 33, no. 4 (2019): 100-121.
Mark, James et al. Alternative Globalizations. Eastern Europe and the Postcolonial World (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2020).

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