A one-day conference will be dedicated to the question how to harness the historical visions of the non-alignment movement (NAM) in the light of the current global geopolitical situation. Another important question will tackle the legacy of culture in the spirit of NAM's internationalism and its potentials for the present day.
Naturally, these questions should not be considered as part of some kind of exoticism linked to the past, nor should they harbor nostalgia for the movement itself, for as we know, what many NAM states actually practiced was quite far from the principles the movement promoted. From today's perspective, the concepts of nation-states, identity politics, and exclusive national cultures, which appeared in the cultural political agendas of the time, can be seen as highly problematic. The concept of solidarity also needs to be treated with caution: with whom are we solidary, and how are we solidary? How can we avoid the “white savior complex”? And what should be done with the fact that Syria, Pakistan, Libya and most African states are still members of the NAM?
Nevertheless, the movement should not be forgotten in so far as it envisioned forms of politics that took as their starting point peoples and societies that had been forcibly relegated to the margins of the global economic, political and cultural system. The movement also proposed new models that “enabled people to live and not merely to survive” (Svetlana Alexievitch). The struggle against poverty, inequality, and colonialism in the world system, coupled with trans-national solidarity could be useful in a reconsideration of the history and legacies of the NAM today, at a time when colonialism has yet again become more than evident.
However, to truly reconsider the legacy of the NAM in the cultural framework of today more radical measures would need to be considered – not only on the declarative level, but on practical, applicative levels: on the level of governance, knowledge production and heritage. Next, it would be necessary to translate these new formats and concepts into the spaces of policymaking, not only into those of art and culture, but also in relation to the state, national welfare, and the mechanisms of public administration.
These are some of the topics planned for discussion at the conference.
Among invited speakers are Fernanda Carvajal, Dóra Hegyi & Eszter Szakács, Tvrtko Jakovina, Joy Mboya, Vali Mahlouji, Vera Mey, Igor Štiks, Samia Zennadi.
The conference is part of the larger project New Mappings of Europe, supported by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union and including the collaboration of the Museum of Yugoslavia from Belgrade, the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, in addition to Moderna galerija.