Framing Criticism and Knowledge Production in Semi-peripheries: Post-socialism Unpacked


  • Norbert Petrovici Babes-Bolyai University

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More than two and a half decades after the demise of actually existing socialism, much of the contemporary literature produced about CEE is still organized around a dichotomy between socialism and post-socialism, transforming the region in an epistemic enclave. This paper clarifies the agencies of CEE scholars in producing these epistemic landscapes and adds to the analyses that describe the devices developed in peripheries that contribute to the asymmetries between the core and their academic hinterlands. I address the positioning games played by the CEE scholars, the modalities in which their various critical agendas became embedded in global fluxes of ideas, and their important role in co-producing the self-Orientalizing narrative on "socialism" and "post-socialism". Following the debate between Thelen (2011, 2012) and Dunn & Verdery (2011) over postsocialism as a strategic case, my contention is that the various degrees of epistemic enclavisation of the region spring from the various types of global partnerships, which forge critical alliances predicated on attributing history to West and taking out the East from the "normal" flow of history, coevalness being denied. I further develop this point by making appeal to an example, the understanding of socialist urbanization in the 1980s and 1990s. I illustrate why the over-emphasis on differences between socialism and capitalism, and socialism and post-socialism, and the underestimation of similarities, such as accumulation by dispossession and class decomposition, is a wrong analytical option. I plead for a more Gramsian understanding of counter-hegemonic alliances making.


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