Eastern Michigan University
direct edit

Nataša Kovačević

Associate Professor and Literature Program Coordinator

612K Pray-Harrold

734.487.0976

nkovacev@emich.edu

Education

PhD in English, University of Florida
MA in English and TESOL, University of Kentucky
BA in English, University of Belgrade, Serbia

Interests and Expertise

On sabbatical during 2014-2015 academic year 

Personal website: http://emich.academia.edu/NatasaKovacevic

At EMU, I teach classes in postcolonial and global literature. My chief academic interests include theories of neocolonialism in the wake of the Cold War, post/colonial and post/communist literature and film, and aesthetic strategies that envisage community affiliations beyond continuing colonial dynamics in supranational states like the European Union. My first book Narrating Post/Communism: Colonial Discourse and Europe’s Borderline Civilization posits post/communist Eastern Europe as a proto-colonial terrain to show how contemporary discursive underpinnings of global capitalism and liberal democracy have been shaped by a combined Orientalist stigmatization of communist regimes and Eastern European cultures. Intersecting postcolonialism, Marxism, and deconstruction, I focus on literary texts by anti-communist dissidents and exiles, who fashion themselves as both Eastern and Western European (or American), to highlight the internalization of this discourse of inferiority as well as locate moments of its recognition and critique. I emphasize the dissidents’ ambiguous ideological investment in Cold-War narratives that construct a democratic, capitalist European ideal and present communist, totalitarian “barbarians” as semi-European deviants. Transitioning into postcommunism, I analyze the resulting exclusionary borders and the politics of unequal power which haunt the idea of Europe, especially the European Union as “legitimate” Europe.

My new book project, Locating (Un)Common Belonging in the New Europe, builds on the earlier book by looking at the contemporary uses and meanings of the idea of Europe, especially in the post 9/11 context of the “war on terror” and growing fears of immigration, the unacknowledged afterlife of European colonialism. The European Union has become a contemporary unifying element behind not only material restructuring of much of the continent along neoliberal lines, but also its symbolic re-inscriptions of (post)national cultural identity and community. Although the EU promotes an image of equitability and concern about the world at large, I suggest that it should be theorized through the lens of neocolonialism due to its continued material benefits from unequal power relations with former colonies, virtual pockets of internally colonized minorities, and discriminatory criteria for accession that reflect established colonial assumptions about civilization, rule of law, and development. I look to imaginative texts – literature, film, and artistic performance – that hold up a mirror to Europe’s confrontation with that part of itself perceived as unclean, dysfunctional, or in some other way disorderly because it thwarts desired economic and democratic progress.

Courses

Novel in a Global Perspective
Studies in Literature and Culture
Women in Literature
Postcolonial Perspectives in Literature
Recent Trends in Contemporary Literature

Recent Publications and Presentations

Books:

Narrating Post/Communism: Colonial Discourse and Europe’s Borderline Civilization, Routledge, 2008 (hardback); 2009 (paperback)

Essays:

“Re-Worlding the Balkans: Films of Voyage to the European Union,” special issue “Myths of Europe: East of Venice,” European Journal of English Studies, 2013

“Storming the EU Fortress: Communities of Disagreement in Dubravka Ugrešić,” Cultural Critique, 2013

“Europe as Host/Hostage: On Strange Encounters and Multicultural Love in Contemporary European Cinema,” Interventions: A Journal of Postcolonial Studies, 2012

“Late Communist and Post-Communist Avant-garde Aesthetics: Interrogations of Community,” in Postcommunism, Postmodernism and the Global Imagination, Columbia University Press, East European Monographs series, 2010