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History, Geography and Difference in the Post-socialist World: Or, Do We Still Need Post-Socialism?

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This paper seeks to build on ongoing work in east central Europe and the former Soviet Union—in geography and beyond—to think through the conceptualisation of post-socialism. The rationale for this is threefold. Firstly, we see a need to understand post-socialist conditions as they are lived and experienced by those in the region. Secondly, we seek to challenge the persistent tendency to marginalise the experiences of the non-western world in a discourse of globalisation and universalisation. Thirdly, we identify a need to ask how the conditions of post-socialism reshape our theorising more widely. Centring our analysis on history, geography and difference, we review a wide range of perspectives on the socialist and post-socialist, but argue for a strategic essentialism that recognises post-socialist difference without eclipsing differences. In outlining how we might understand history, geography and difference in post-socialism, we draw on key theorisations from post-colonialism (such as the articulation of the post- with the pre-, the relationship to the west, the rethinking of histories/categories, the end of the post) and outline post-socialisms that are partial and not always explanatory but nevertheless important.
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Keywords: difference; geography; history; post-socialism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK;, Email: [email protected] 2: Department of Geography, University of Durham, Durham, UK;, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2008-03-01

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