CFP: Journal of Narrative Theory, "Consensual Empires"

 “Consensual Empires” aims to provide a forum for the examination of an important area of postcolonial and globalization studies emerging after the official end of the Cold War: the re-constitution of empire in relation to the formerly or currently socialist countries. The “writing” of the other now turns not on the essential difference between East and West, or North and South, or center and periphery, but on the logic and rhetoric of sameness.  The post-socialist or newly capitalist, other – from the Balkans to Beijing – is caught up in a halting but inevitable process of becoming-the-same as the West: liberal, modern, normal. The insistence on emulating Western practices is aided by the ubiquitous phenomenon of self-Orientalization (or internalization of the desire to become-the-same as the West) and by imperial regimes of consensus building, as theorized by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. Similarly, the current world order is no longer marked by overt exclusions of difference but rather by conditional inclusions into the global capitalist “family” based on a host of meritocratic criteria. Amy Kaplan’s discussion of the trope of homeland in US post-9/11 discourse can be extended to the rhetoric of global capitalist empire predicated on an intimate possibility of belonging, voluntary tending to this home as a space of safety, and implicit exclusions of those who threaten it. The logic of sameness also reflects the logic of capital (reification or general equivalence), producing desirable identities via the disciplinary mechanisms of neoliberal models of labor and consumption. Capitalist expansion in (post)socialist societies owes more to Antonio Gramsci’s concept of hegemonic domination, therefore, rather than to colonial-type conquest. Indeed, in transitioning socialist societies in particular, neoliberal capitalism operates primarily as the organization of popular consent, intellectually structured around important hegemonic principles. Its acceptance crucially depends on the mediation and support of national governments and bourgeois elites.

Essays (max. 10,000 words) should address cultural narratives that can help us understand the creation of consensual empires in (post)socialist countries. We encourage projects that mix the objects of postcolonial theory and globalization studies to yield a revised view of (post)socialist Eastern Europe, Asia, South America and other parts of the world. Ideally, essays should move beyond narrative analysis and theory on the postcolonial side and sweeping accounts of cultural change on the globalization side. We are interested in a range of contemporary cultural practices and narratives – literature, film, television, and art performance – in (post)socialist spaces where a postcolonial lens would be necessary to yield deep historical implications and tie neoliberal transitions to the history of empire. Here are possible avenues of inquiry:

Contributors should follow the MLA style (7th edition), with footnotes kept at a minimum and incorporated into the text where possible.

Please send a copy of the full submission by email attachment to the editor, Nataša Kovačević (nkovacev@emich.edu), by June 1, 2014. Interested authors can send inquires about papers topics that are in development prior to the deadline.