CfP: Underground Adventures. Temporal Experimentation in Postwar Countercultures (Berlin, Deadline: 15.9.16)

Call for Papers:
Underground Adventures: Temporal Experimentation in Postwar Countercultures
(24 – 25 March 2017, Berlin)

When the Berlin Techno scene emerged in the wake of the fall of the wall in 1989, party-goers often occupied urban relics: they danced in old factories and power stations, in the basements of decaying buildings, and in the obsolete infrastructure of the Cold War. Much like other countercultural movements since the 1950s, the ravers of late twentieth-century Berlin sought adventure in the interstitial, “underground” spaces of the everyday. While scholars have thoroughly addressed the spatial dimension of countercultural and underground movements – the construction of “heterotopias” (Foucault) – less attention has been paid to the creation of distinct temporal experiences – what might be termed the “heterochronies” of the underground.

This conference seeks to address the heterochronic dimensions of postwar countercultural movements by examining the experimental audio-visual techniques and bodily practices that proliferated in these underground spaces. In so doing, we intend to draw attention to the fact that postwar countercultural movements were not only engaged in the appropriation and production of space; they were also centrally concerned with transforming time. The conference thus seeks to address the intersection of new technologies and media, bodily practices, and spatial and temporal experimentation.

We invite scholars from a range of disciplines, including media studies, musicology, anthropology, history, social studies, and others, to reflect on how countercultural movements in the postwar period produced distinct temporal experiences. Issues to be addressed might range from the use of media and technology, such as strobe lights and experimental music, to bodily practices and experiences such as dancing and drug consumption, to the very timing of (counter) cultural events – what marks their beginning and their ending. We are equally interested in how issues such as social class, gender and race could shape the temporal dimensions of the underground. Finally, the politics of temporality needs to be discussed, that is, what political visions – of the past, present, and future – did countercultural movements develop by constructing the times and spaces of the underground?

Potential case studies might address any postwar countercultural movement in Europe and North America ranging from the psychedelic scenes of the 1960s, to the global New Wave Movement, to late twentieth-century raves.

We intend to pre-circulate papers of up to 3,000 words. Participants should read all papers in advance and only give a brief (10 minutes) presentation to remind the audience of their main points. Please submit abstracts of up to 500 words to jake.p.smith@uchicago.edu by 15 September 2016. We will notify participants shortly thereafter. The conference will be held at Humboldt University Berlin. It is co-sponsored by the European History Research Centre at the University of Warwick. Travel expenses and accommodation will be covered by the conference organizers.

The conference is co-organized by Joachim C. Häberlen (Warwick), Jake P. Smith (Chicago) and Jan Hansen (HU Berlin).


Joachim Häberlen

Joachim Häberlen is Assistant Professor at the University of Warwick. He is currently working on feelings in the alternative scene in West Germany.

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