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Echo Echo. Postsoviet Cosmopolis | internationales literaturfestival (ilb) 2022

A cooperative series of the Cluster of Excellence "Temporal Communities: Doing Literature in a Global Perspective" and the international literature festival berlin

September 9-11, 2022

Collegium Hungaricum Berlin, Dorotheenstraße 12, 10117 Berlin

In the context of the international literature festival berlin 2022 the cooperative series Echo Echo. Post-Soviet Cosmopolis got in touch with literary communities in the Post-Soviet space.

Formed as a term that indicates both the presence of the Soviet impact and the overcoming of a politically and culturally imperial frame, the term Post-Soviet both evokes the discourse of a shared cultural legacy and the struggles for delineation that is forming the communities of the formerly Soviet topography until today.

With regard to the histories of independence declarations and color revolutions that shaped the formation of independent nation states between 1991 and 2005, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine since 2014, the term of the Post-Soviet is ambivalent: a shadow haunting the diverse cultural and ethnic spaces enclosed and violently unified in this category and a double fold instrument to reflect upon the endurance of the impact of Soviet nation-building and to rephrase the focus on these cultural and political interferences as a cosmopolitan complex. As such it does not only allow to zoom in the urban spaces that in many literary works play an exorbitant role, but to discuss both the world character of the imperial legacy and the insular structure of post-Soviet points of concentrated exchange all over the world. To deprive Russian of its imperial dominance and to detach all formerly Soviet languages from their nationalist conceptualization means in the context of the program special to emphasize the translingual identities of the Post-Soviet Cosmopolis, and to look at literary production with and against the Russian.

When the program special “Echo Echo. Post-Soviet Cosmopolis” was planned at the end of 2021 its special focus was translingual poetics as a phenomenon among poets with post-Soviet origin for whom Russian was the first language of literary orientation and all of whom wrote in poetic dialogue between Russian and at least one other language.

But since Russia escalated the war against Ukraine in February 2022 the focus has gained yet another extremely topical meaning:

Facing a military aggression whose legitimizing ideology it is to monopolize Russian as the language of the neo-imperial enterprise of the Russian government, it has become impossible to neutrally discuss translingual poetics of predominantly Russophone authors. At the same time it has become even more important not to accept and to withstand, first, the attempts to reserve Russian for the “Russian world” (soft power project of Putin’s state) and, second, contradict the attempts to declare the Russian language and Russian literature guilty.

Against this background, the format understands its title Post-Soviet Cosmopolis as an entry point into literary communications and urban structures in which the local, the national and the preliminary internationalist conflated under the aegis of the Soviet project of world literature and the Soviet nation-building related to it. In this context, Cosmopolis becomes readable as a concept of local and widely distributed junctions of multi-ethnic and multi-cultural correspondences that constantly re-articulated and negotiated the way in which the Russian language mattered as tool of a globally informed cultural frame. It has to be asked how it intertwined with and got modified by a multitude of specific Eastern European histories, literary traditions and political voices.

With regard to post-Soviet developments Cosmopolis does not intend to re-affirm the imperial vectors, but to track the fractured, spontaneous and in many cases inconsistent alliances of globalized and local influxes as well.

From September 9 to 11, 2022 the series has explored different conflated layers of Post-Soviet literature, inviting authors from Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia, Albania, Latvia, Georgia and Russian literary voices in exile from two generations to discuss childhood under the impact of systemic disruption, the role of subcultures in the forming of identities and the specific multi- and interlingual dynamics that are characteristic of the heterogenous complex called Post-Soviet Cosmopolis.

Further information: literaturfestival.com