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Published on:
30. November 2015

Claiming the Dispossession: The Politics of Hi/storytelling in Post-imperial Europe, conference hosted by Vladimir Biti on 20–21 November 2015 at the Department of Slavic Studies, University of Vienna, brought together scholars of Slavic studies and comparative literature  from Austria, the Czech Republic, post-Yugoslav countries, Germany, the Netherlands and Great Britain. After Biti’s introductory outline of the historical topology of the province and its subordination to imperial centres, the participants discussed responses of literary and artistic fields to the position of those who felt to be dispossessed and marginalised within the nation-states that emerged on the ruins of the Ottoman, Habsburg and Soviet empires. In this context, Petr Kučera talked about writers of ‘Blue Anatolia’, who attempted to compensate the feeling of the loss of imperial dominance in Atatürk’s Turkey by appropriating the cultural capital accumulated in the long history of Anatolia, and thereby demonstrating the importance of the Turkish state for European civilisation. Ivana Perica addressed the impact of workers literature and Austro-Marxism of the interbellum ‘Red Vienna´on South Slav writers. Zoran Milutinović, Davor Beganović and others demonstrated how literary cosmopolitans (Krleža, Andrić, Crnjanski) defined their position among exclusive ethnic identifications in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Guido Snel and Stijn Vervaet spoke about Dubravka Ugrešić and Alexander Hemon who, writing in the exile and foreign languages, processed war trauma, memories of the multi-ethnic socialist federation and the current nationalist discourses in their native countries. Alenka Koron discussed the issue of post-Yugoslav subalterns and Yugo-nostalgia as represented in a novel by Goran Vojnović (its title overturns a slogan that gave rise to the independence discourse in Slovenia), while Marko Juvan analysed these socio-economic and ethno-cultural problems as they were reflected by the Yugoslav and Slovenian political theatre, in particular ‘the Ristić complex’, which was typical of the so-called Yugosphere, a neoliberal Empire’s surrogate for the former interliterary community.