CfP - EE in Transition

posted by Katalin Teller on 2009/10/27 16:44

[ Call for Papers ]

Papers are welcome for the conference Cultures of Indebtedness: Displacements of Value in Eastern Europe to be held January 22-23, 2010 at New Europe College, Institute for Advanced Study Bucharest, Romania. Deadline for submissions: November 25, 2009.

The transformations of the last two decades brought about multiple forms of displacement in the former socialist societies in Eastern Europe: of the state, of structures of everyday life, of social relations, and of populations. Regional financial practices were unarguably part of this encompassing process. New forms of currency displaced older means of payment, a multitude of valuables replaced former goods that functioned as stores of value, while diverse credit relations and forms of indebtedness redefined the paths of monetary circulation in all postsocialist societies.

To explore some of the above processes, we invite the submission of papers focusing on the diverse cultures of indebtedness emerging in former socialist societies for a two-day conference to be held at the New Europe College in Bucharest. Papers could elaborate on a variety of issues such as: the emergence of barter and the expansion of debt relations in rural areas, the spread of commercial banks and the appearance of new types of consumer credit, the proliferation of mortgage loans and the reconfiguration of ownership, the new forms of company finance and the solutions to postsocialist arrears, the introduction of financial derivatives and speculative capitals in former socialist economies, the monitoring and supervision of ever more complex credit relationships by assemblages of public/private actions, or the external debt of postsocialist states and the role of international financial institutions in mediating their access to capital.

Depictions of postsocialist transformations in monetary practices usually appear in theories of rupture and change. Attractive because of their clarity, such theories leave unexplained both the growth of diverse financial practices and the cohabitation of apparently antiquated financial forms with institutional arrangements attributed to late capitalism. How can “loan sharks” and reputed central bankers, pyramid schemes and hedge funds, informal credit arrangements and electronic payment systems, or extensive barter relations and financial derivatives proliferate and coexist within a relatively confined geographical area and over a period of time of just two decades?

While most of the financial practices and institutional forms thriving in Eastern Europe are not altogether new, the contemporary emphasis on financial creativity, the multiple forms of displacement (of time, space, risk, ownership, and control) mediated by modern money, and the restructuring of everyday life around financial arrangements are the constitutive elements of a new socio-political regime. Such forms of institutional creativity, incorporating some of the cultural and organizational legacies of socialism, are responsible for the distinct meanings and purposes taken locally by widespread financial instruments. They constitute the specificity of contemporary East European capitalism.

Starting from such a conceptualization we intend to explore the various cultural configurations emerging around the diverse forms of indebtedness in the region. That is, we aim to approach ethnographically the new cultural formations, moralities, and types of knowledge engendered by processes of value displacement. Although sensitive to ethnographically based research conducted in contemporary Eastern European settings, we also encourage historical and comparative approaches based on the analysis of diverse postsocialist contexts.

At the two-day conference keynote speeches will be given by Jane Guyer, Professor of Anthropology, Johns Hopkins University, Alya Guseva, Associate Professor of Sociology, Boston University, and Barbara Grimpe, Department of Sociology, University of Constance.

The organizers would appreciate an early expression of interest (by mid-November at the latest), mentioning the topic to be discussed and when possible, giving a provisional title. Abstracts of no more than 250 words, as well as general inquiries about the conference, should be sent to Narcis Tulbure ( and/or Daniel Lăţea ( by November 25, 2009.

The organizers will cover travel and accommodation expenses within the limits of the budget. We would be grateful if you could also find additional financial support for taking part in our conference.

For a copy of the call for papers and a presentation of the New Europe College, please access:


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