"Ambivalent Americanizations:" Popular and Consumer Culture in Central and Eastern Europe

"Ambivalent Americanizations:" Popular and Consumer Culture in Central and Eastern Europe

Institut für Amerikanistik der Universität Leipzig
Geisteswissenschaftliches Zentrum der Universität Leipzig, Polnisches Institut Leipzig, Zeitgeschichtliches Forum Leipzig
Vom - Bis
24.11.2005 - 26.11.2005
Institut für Amerikanistik der Universität Leipzig

This conference explores the complex dynamics involved in the ‘Americanization’ of popular and consumer cultures across Europe with a focus on the years 1945-89. A central concern is to advance scholarship on ‘Americanization’ by asking for the experience of Central and Eastern Europe. Here ‘Americanization’ figured within a political, cultural, and economic context that defined itself in sharp contrast to ‘America.’
Throughout the Cold War years, American goods and lifestyles traveled across political boundaries, generating (and gratifying) different desires and fantasies; they have since become icons in intense political debates in which ‘America’ serves as a signifier for variously accentuated notions of capitalism and/or modernity.
The conference situates itself within recent scholarship that no longer conceptualizes ‘Americanization’ as a unidirectional transfer of goods and policies merely ‘affecting’ passive recipients, but as a set of complex processes of cultural mixing, a cultural praxis of appropriation. A wide range of case studies will therefore address ‘Americanization’ not by defining its contours, but by understanding it from the various ambivalences of its boundaries, parameters and modes of engagement. Our international contributors will discuss such ambivalences as working on three levels: the dynamics of cultural transfer, the practices of appropriation, and the ways in which theorizing these phenomena itself becomes entangled in some of the generalizations at stake.

The conference is part of an ongoing research and teaching project involving faculty and advanced students at the University of Leipzig.


Thursday, Polnisches Insitut Leipzig

3:00 pm: Opening

3:30 pm: Panel 1
Thomas Kolitsch (Leipzig)
"Die Monotonie des Yeah, Yeah, Yeah": Official Ways of Dealing with Western Popular Music in the GDR

Leonard Schmieding (Leipzig)
HipHop in the GDR

7:00 pm: Keynote
Reinhold Wagnleitner (Salzburg)
Jazz - the Classical Music of Globalization (with Günter Wagnleitner, Piano)

Friday, Zeitgeschichtliches Forum

9:30 am: Panel 2
Ewa Grzeszczyk (Warsaw)
American Models of Consumption and their Presence in Poland

Magdalena Ziolek (Poznan)
American Culture in the Disocurse of Globalization from the Perspective of the Polish Youth Generation

11:30 am: Panel 3
Nadine Swibenko (Bangkok)
"Because I am an 'Ossi'" - Asserting Identity by Buying East German Goods

2:15 pm: Panel 4
Katja Kanzler (Leipzig)
The Soviet Wizard of Oz

Nevena Dakovic (Belgrade)
East/West Soap

4:15 pm: Panel 5
Sebastian M. Herrmann (Leipzig)
Plastics and Modernity in the GDR

Anne Koenen (Leipzig)
Mail-Order Catalogues in the GDR

Saturday, Geisteswissenschaftliches Zentrum

9:30 am: Panel 6
Malgorzata Gajda-Laszewska (Warsaw)
America in Polish Poster Art 1945-1956

Zoe A. Kusmierz (Leipzig)
Electrifying the Iron Curtain: American Home Appliances at the US Exhibition in Moscow, 1959

11:00 am: Response and Discussion

Heike Paul (Erlangen)


Dr. Katja Kanzler

Beethovenstr. 15
04107 Leipzig
0341 - 9737337