Natalya Bekhta is Senior Research Fellow at the Tampere Institute for Advanced Study (Finland), where she is working on a book project about a reconstruction of the contemporary literatures of post-communist Europe – formerly part of the so-called “Second World” – within current theories of “world literature”. Her research interests combine Utopia, narratology, world-literary theory and contemporary Ukrainian fiction. Her monograph We-Narratives: Collective Storytelling in Contemporary Fiction (2020) was awarded the Barbara Perkins and George Perkins Prize for its contribution to the study of narrative.
After Utopia: Futural Imagination and the Literatures of the Former “Second World”
Utopia has been a key theoretical and artistic concern of recent times. From the study of “futurity” and the search for “real utopias” in sociology and political economy to the re-activation of interest in fantastic, apocalyptic and dystopian fictions in the cultural sphere, Utopia in all its forms is intrinsic to how our age thinks the present and tries to image a future (“Another World is Possible,” the World Social Forum tells us). In my project I take a different approach and investigate instead what happens to Utopia – as literary form and human impulse – when the society that claimed to embody it has disappeared. The overarching aim is to offer a study of Utopian expression in the literary production of post-1991 Europe and relate the post-Soviet, contemporary futural imaginaries to the global context. In doing so, I also aim to contribute to a reconstruction of the literary cultures of Central Eastern Europe within the comparative framework of “world literature” in order to unsettle the familiar opposition of the Global North / Global South, or centre / periphery, that often precludes a possibility of a more complex comparative geography.
During my fellowship within the EUTIM project I shall be working on one aspect of this long-term research project: An analysis of the socio-cultural context of the post-communist European literatures after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the terms of relation of this world-literary region to the rest of the international literary scene.