CFP: From Birth To Death: Age and Ageing in the Postsocialist Transformation

We would like to draw your attention to the call for papers for the international conference From Birth To Death: Age and Ageing in the Postsocialist Transformation which will take place in Dresden on 26-28 September 2023.

Conference abstract

 Up to today the post-1989 transformation has had long-lasting effects on lives and biographies in postsocialist societies. The biographical disruptions caused by the postsocialist reconfigurations created many so-called ‘losers’ of the transformation, who have not had the chance or were unable to create biographical coherence across the systemic divide. Many of these so-called ‘losers’ tend to, or are judged to, express their anger about the long-term inequalities caused by the reunification process with an increasing skepticism towards democracy and a new openness towards authoritarianism. But who are these so-called ‘losers’? Can we determine members within a certain age group as particularly receptive to the authoritarian temptation? What is the connection between individuals’ former age during the time of the postsocialist transformation and their political identities today? The proposed conference starts from the observations that there are indeed no uniform experiences of ‘the’ transformation. Be it in East Germany or the countries of East Central Europe the various age groups experienced and responded differently to the political and social transformation in the past and remember and speak about it today in different ways. Certain ages, such as adolescence – which is in itself a period of rapid physical and mental transformation – are for instance more receptive to experiences of abrupt change than others, which has had implications for their attitude towards this historical event and its long aftermath. Thus, when looking at the various age groups one can detect various degrees of harmony/disharmony of certain biographical stages with the postsocialist transformation. This requires paying special attention to the dimension of age when it comes to understanding the political, social and biographical implications of the postsocialist transformation. So far, much research has been devoted to the separate study of the experiences of either childhood, adolescence, or old age. Yet, these studies have not contrasted the response of the various age groups to the transformation. 

Speakers are encouraged to address the follow questions:

  • How did the various age groups experience the post-socialist transformation? 
  • How did the postsocialist transformation enable/discourage specific age groups from realising their very individual aspirations? 
  • How did gender and class impact the ability to successfully incorporate the transformation into one’s professional and personal biography? 
  • What social and biographical factors made individuals within a certain age group more vulnerable to becoming winners/losers in the transformation? 
  • What are the long-term implications of age-related experiences during the postsocialist transformation and even up to today? 

Practical information:

Proposals for papers shall be sent to Friederike Kind-Kovács (friederike.kind-kovacs@tu-dresden.de) and Maren Hachmeister (maren.hachmeister@mailbox.tu-dresden.de), including a 250 word abstract and a 150-200 word descriptive CV (including reference to 2-3 selected publications) until 15th February 2023. Proposals should include paper title, the presenter’s name, contact information, and institutional affiliation. We explicitly encourage young doctoral and postdoctoral researchers from the field of history, social anthropology, sociology, and psychology. As we plan to have commentaries for each session, papers of 2000 words are required to be pre-circulated by September 1st. Travel and accommodation expenses of successful applicants will be covered. Accepted speakers will be informed by 30th February 2023. 

For more information, please see the attached PDF.