Working Group 2: Culture in the Grey Zone

Working Group Chairs: Zsófia Lóránd and Jan Mervart

The activities of this Working Group are informed by an understanding of resistance as an act of negotiated autonomy and are aimed at exploring the ambiguous realm between the official culture of former socialist countries on the one hand, and openly dissenting cultural activities on the other. We examine the dilemmas of members of academic and artistic communities who, without engaging in open dissent, cultivated ties to both organized opposition and transnational scientific and artistic networks, and often played a mediating role in introducing subversive, often Western ideas, trends and theories to the arts, humanities and social sciences as well as to everyday cultural practices.

This research will enable a better understanding of the double roles played by these individuals and groups, namely those of simultaneously legitimizing and subverting official culture and engaging in East-West dialogue. We will take into consideration the circumstances affecting life choices of the grey zone artists and scholars such as the existence of organized cultural opposition outside the official realm, degree of dependence of such professions on state patronage, the degree of cultural isolation from the West or relationships to Western institutions promoting cultural freedom. In the process of exploring how the grey zones and the actors within the grey zones operate, we are also interested in the changing and highly-context dependent concept of the grey zone itself.

Fővám square, former Customs Palace, the lecture hall of Karl Marx university of economics (1987)


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