Scrutinizing the double standards underlying capitalism’s post-1989 expansion, the Berliner Gazette (BG) project BLACK BOX EAST takes Germany as a starting point: a nation-state whose entrepreneurial agenda (“first we take East Germany, then we take eastern Europe and beyond”) has reached a critical limit. The most obvious signs of this would be the increasing precariousness and radicalization in “the new states,” as BG founding editors Magdalena Taube and Krystian Woznicki show in their introductory essay. Read it in English (EN) or in German (GER).
In the course of this, three dimensions of the BLACK BOX EAST will be explored: First, the project will investigate how the black box in question is constructed and whose geopolitical and economic interests it serves. Second, the project will examine what economic and political realities the black box conceals and favors. Third, the project intends to create a common – and above all, decolonial – discourse about and from within “the East” and thus, not least, shape strategies to unlock the black box and recode it into a common space of transnational struggles.
The BLACK BOX EAST project will culminate in the international Berliner Gazette conference, which is scheduled to take place on September 23, 24 and 25, 2021 (tbc).
With invited contributions by historian Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk about the (un)friendly take over of East-Germany (GER); researcher and writer Katharina Warda about ex-GDR as a black box; historian Claudia Weber about “backwardness” and the “democratic deficit” in “the East”; political theorist Stefan Kausch and discourse analyst Jürgen Link about East German normality between deviance and avant-garde; historian George Bodie about decolonisation and the German Democratic Republic (1960-1989); culture theoretician Marco Abel about the role of “the East” for the birth of Germany as a neoliberal nation-state (GER); activist and researcher Christoph Marischka about the making of the digital revolution in Eastern Germany; culture theoretician Neda Genova about knowledge production and the politics of transparency/opacity; curator Aleksei Borisionok and artist Olia Sosnovskaya about the concept of “the New East” as a paradigm of reinforced Othering; researcher and activist Inga Lindarenka about representations of post-Soviet space in UK media; media researcher Greg McLaughlin about the New Cold War; social anthropologist Florin Poenaru about blackboxing Romania; investigative journalist Stefan Candea about the politics of cross-border journalism in “the East”; digital thinker and artist Darija Medic about the construction of the computer user in Yugoslavia; researcher Ana Vilenica about historical revisionism in urban transformations in Belgrade and London and how to read Western urbanism with the vocabulary of “the East”; sociologist Sanja Milivojevic about the black-boxed mobility infrastructure in the Western Balkans (GER | EN).
With invited contributions by scholar-activist Sabrina Apicella about how Amazon’s logistical network connects “the East” with Europe at large; urban researcher Jochen Becker about Amazon’s logistical chains between Berlin and Poznań; researcher Mira Wallis about Germany’s digital ghost workers in Romania (GER); digital media researcher Miglè Bareikytè about the incommensurability of labor politics and AI strategies in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia; geographers Lela Rekhviashvili and Wladimir Sgibnev about struggles over infrastructure that holds post-Soviet space together (GER | EN); political geographer Evelina Gambino about how the logistical arteries of the former Eastern Bloc are repurposed in today’s logistical networks; anthropologist Sabina Stan about outsourcing healthcare labor in Romania within the EU’s new economic governance regime; scholar-activist Christine Braunersreuther about global care chains and Balkanism as a special form of racism; sociologist and activist Polina Manolova about postsocialist hope, migration, and “the West” as an ideology that sustains and propels exploitative East-West dependencies; anthropologist Dace Dzenovska about emptiness as a novel spatial coordinate of post-migration realities in “the East;” anthropologist Tanja Petrović and journalist Maja Ava Žiberna about undocumented workers from the Balkans as drivers of “Europeanization” and neoliberal globalization of Eastern Europe; scholar-activist Rutvica Andrijasevic about worker struggles within and against China’s electronics industry in Eastern Europe; researcher and writer Lesia Prokopenko about how China’s shanzhai goods are consumed and appropriated in Eastern Europe as a phantom of “Westerness;” decolonial researchers Kasia Narkowicz and Zoltán Ginelli about global historical roots of colonial discourse, including the decolonial capture by the Right, in Poland and Hungary.
With invited contributions by dramaturge Johanna-Yasirra Kluhs and director and performer Tanja Krone about social practice theater with networks of ‘real people’ in East and West Germany; researcher and artist Anna Stiede about deindustrialization in Apolda and TreuhandTechno (GER); theater-maker Kevin Rittberger and artist Nicolas Mortimer about cybernetic futurism in the GDR (GER | EN); artist and activist Rena Raedle about the avantgarde and “the East” (GER); theater director and poet Thomas Martin about the quest for real-existing (post)communist laboratories of globalization; artist and author Elske Rosenfeld about the legacies of GDR dissidence; decolonial theorist Madina Tlostanova about what it means to decolonize (post)socialism; social thinker Max Haiven and historian Vijay Prashad about the role of “the East” in the Western radical imagination; scholar-activist Kalina Dresnka about unboxing “the East” from within transnational activist networks; literary scholar Karolina Golimowska about social struggles in Poland during the COVID-19 pandemic philosopher, theoretician, and artist Marina Gržinić about the politics of Post-Yugoslavia; researcher and curator Doreen Mende about decolonial imaginaries of (post-)socialism; political theorist Gal Kirn about the partisan counter-archive; sociologist Paul Stubbs about the legacies of the Non-Aligned Movement for today’s activism (GER | EN); activist hvale about intersectional struggles in Bosnia and Herzegovina; journalist Mihajlo Vujasin about food sovereignty in neoliberal Serbia; scholar-activist Sara Nikolić about urban commons in New Belgrade.
Workers’ Museum Trudbenik
The organization behind the BLACK BOX EAST project is Berliner Gazette (BG) – a nonprofit and nonpartisan team of journalists, researchers, artists and coders. We experiment with and analyze emerging cultural as well as political practices. Since 1999 we have been publishing berlinergazette.de under a Creative Commons License – with more than 1,000 contributors from all over the world – as well as organizing conferences and editing books. Latest BG projects include 2020: Silent Works – BG Winter School | 2019: More World – BG con | 2018: Ambient Revolts – BG con | 2017: Signals – Exhibition | A Field Guide to the Snowden Files – Book | Friendly Fire – BG con | 2016: Tacit Futures – BG con | 2015: UN|COMMONS – BG con | 2012: BQV. Büro für Qualifikation und Vermögen – Documentary | 2006: McDeutsch – Book.
The curators of the BLACK BOX EAST project are Magdalena Taube and Krystian Woznicki. Magdalena is editor-in-chief of the internet newspaper Berliner Gazette and professor of Digital Media and Journalism at the Macromedia University of Applied Sciences in Berlin. She is the author of “Disruption des Journalismus” (2018) published by Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam and co-editor of numerous readers, including “Invisible Hand(s)” (2020) published by Multimedijalni institut, Zagreb. Krystian is a critic, photographer, and the co-founder of Berliner Gazette. Blending writing and photography, he has created books such as “After the Planes” (2017), co-authored with Brian Massumi, “Fugitive Belonging” (2018), and his most recent work “Undeclared Movements” – published by b_books in 2020.
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