[dispatches] from the East within the North
an experimental newspaper project as performance, social sculpture or organizing tool
Eastern Europe is not the name of a place on a map. Rather, the making of Eastern Europe was a projection of North Atlantic power structures. The name sought to grasp and represent a world as though neatly structured around two competing superpowers – the United States and the Soviet Union. From the perspective of wealthy capitalist countries (the self-named West), the East was the sphere of influence of the other side, its dispersed territory, populations and competing economic/political/military regime, called “communism”. Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, new terms became normalized, such as “former East” and “post-communist countries”. This more recent naming process sought an even greater oversimplification of the world: the global regime of competing superpowers was supposedly over, replaced with a single superpower and a single planetary logic.
The rhetoric of casting off “East”ness (and the corresponding process of westernization) is represented in the dominant discourse as a transition from totalitarianism to democracy, from communism to capitalism. But social struggles in many of these countries are increasingly articulating a resistant perspective, exposing this transition not as a pathway to liberation and prosperity, but instead as a violent restructuring of all aspects of life, with immense social and ecological costs. From this perspective, the transition has been an imposed integration and subordination into the economic, military and political structures of global capital: World Bank, IMF and economic treaties; NATO and Frontex; the European Union. It has meant the production of poverty and of economic monopolies, mass population displacement both internally and externally, the hypermilitarization of the state and of borders above and below the national boundaries, targeted ecological devastation, and a reconfiguration of populations within an enforced global racial order. Currently, to insist that one is speaking from the East is not to internalize the western logic of cold war orientalism, or to identify with specific communist regimes. Instead, to speak “from the East” is to speak from the perspective of bearing the costs and struggling against a violently imposed westernization that that seeks to enclose upon and pre-empt the possibility of alternate futures.
[dispatches] from the East within the North is a proposal for an autonomous newspaper that activates dissenting perspectives from the East within and in relation to the North American context, where public discourse is dominated by a network of intellectual and economic diasporic elites. East and North are considered as unstable political, social and relative – not absolute and fixed – coordinates. The paper also does not assume a predetermined geography of distribution. Instead, it will try to activate new pathways, spaces of interference and proximity across existing activist and migrant communities and circuits of exchange. It will also be activated via a tour of autonomous self-organized spaces in the US and Canada in the summer/Fall of 2016, with a focus on organizing projects that address migrant justice and indigenous resistance across the Americas. Coverage, both in terms of content within the pages and in terms of distribution, is a social and space-making experiment.
Learning from Rosia Montana – a conversation with Luminita Dejeu about resistance to resource extraction in Romania and the diaspora, an independent newspaper as a political project, and talking to people on the Ariesului valley.
Collective struggles from below in times of anti-communism from above – a conversation with Victor Vozian and David Schwartz on their experiences working within the Common Front for the Right to Housing, and social struggles in the context of the top-down imposition of neoliberal anti-communist politics imported from the United States and Western Europe.
Eat the Swans! And other Disanchantments from the European Dream – a conversation with Ovidiu Tichindeleanu about the changing relations between the European project and its semi-peripheries, migration and racialization.
Gallery 400 is pleased to partner with Museum and Exhibition Studies, International Studies, the Department of History, and the Department of Slavic and Baltic Languages and Literatures at UIC to present this new commission by artist and organizer Rozalinda Borcilă.
Image Credit: Image courtesy of the United Front for Housing Rights (Frontul Comun Pentru Dreptul la Locuire)
Image Translation: Thousands of empty houses. Thousands of people on the street. Where is justice?