Conference “Spectrum of Communism”

Symposium at Blinken OSA on November 16-17, 2017


The two-day symposium addresses left wing political thought and artistic practice in a transnational context. It explores the shifts in historiography that affected knowledge production in humanities and social sciences, as well as developments in the field of arts. The symposium pays special attention to some of the fundamental aspects of 20th century globalization: the transmission, circulation and reception of values, cultures, and beliefs. The symposium is organized by the Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives (Blinken OSA) at Central European University —  a repository of important collections related to the history of the Cold War and of grave international human rights violations, as well as a laboratory of archival experiments on new ways of assessing, contextualizing, presenting, and making use of archival documents. The symposium is accompanied by film screenings within the framework of Verzio International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival.





November 16, Thursday


9:30 Registration


10:00 Opening Speech


10:30–13:00 Panel 1


Transnational Communism


Chair: Anna Mazanik (Blinken OSA, CEU)


Jiri Hudecek (Charles University, Prague), Scientific Exchange Among Revolutionaries: Czechoslovakia and China in the 1950s and 1960s


Viviana Iacob (New Europe College, Bucharest), Caragiale in Calcutta: Romania—India Cultural Exchanges during the Cold War


Nemanja Radonjic (University of Belgrade), A Socialist Shaping of the Postcolonial Elite. Students from Africa in Socialist Yugoslavia


Péter Apor (MTA BTK, Budapest), Goulash Socialism in the Jungle: Hungary and the Export of Socialist Economy


Discussant: Bogdan C. Iacob (New Europe College, Bucharest)




15:00–17:30 Panel 2


Factory of Facts


Chair: Marsha Siefert (CEU)


István Rév (Blinken OSA, CEU), Episodes in the History of “The Makers of Facts”


John McKay (Yale University), Vertov’s allegories of revolutionary change


Oksana Sarkisova (Blinken OSA, CEU), Facts and Little Facts: Anti-Documentarist Campaign and the Birth of Soviet Documentary


Peter Bagrov (Gosfilmofond, Moscow), The Judgement of History: Fridrikh Ermler’s reconstructions of the past


Discussant: Yuri Tsivian (U of Chicago)




18:00 Film screening:


Storming of the Winter Palace (Nikolai Evreinov, 1920) with introduction by Yuri Tsivian (University of Chicago) and Daria Khitrova (Harvard University)  (program duration 90’)


November 17, Friday


10:00–12:30 Panel 3


What is Left from Marxism? Post-Communist Critical Thinking on the Left


Chair: Iván Székely (Blinken OSA)


Florin Poenaru (Criticatac), Resisting Left-Wing Melancholia


Agnes Gagyi (University of Gothenburg), Class and Intellectual Politics: Some Notes on the Contexts of a New Intellectual Left in Hungary and Romania


Ioana Macrea-Toma (Blinken OSA), Killing a Chinese Mandarin in Romania. On the Aporias of Leftist Interpretations of the “Anti-corruption” Protests


Ilya Budraitskis (OpenLeft, LeftEast), Heritage without Heirs? The 1917th Anniversary, Kremlin’s Historical Politics and the Conservative Appropriation of the Revolution.


Discussant: Mihai Dan Cirjan (CEU)




14:00–16:30 Panel 4


The Culture of Labor / The Labor of Culture: Artists at Work


Chair & Discussant: Katalin Timár (PTE, Pécs; Ludwig Museum, Budapest)


Péter György (ELTE, Budapest): Hidden Values – The Price of Art in Different Cold War Contexts


Kristóf Nagy (Artpool Art Research Center – Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest): Thinking in the Market: Changing Attitudes Towards the Commodification of Art in the 1980’s Hungary


Katalin Székely (Blinken OSA, CEU): The Value of Work – Volunteering Art Workers


Pascal Gielen (Universtity of Antwerp): ‘Commonism – The Aesthetics of a New Ideology’




17:00 Film screening


1917 – The Real October (Katrin Rothe / Switzerland, France, Germany / 90’)


Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives (Blinken OSA)


1051 Budapest Arany János utca 32.


Registration: Julianna Lendvai,

OSA Archivum / Galeria Centralis – 1051 Budapest, Arany János u. 32.