AAA CFP – Strange Presents and Familiar Pasts: The Anthropology of Nostalgia

Call for Papers for volunteered session at the 2015 AAA Meetings —

Strange Presents and Familiar Pasts: The Anthropology of Nostalgia 

Dr. Anna Fournier, Associate Professor, University of Manitoba
Dr. Amber R. Reed, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Pennsylvania


How can ethnographic engagement make sense of nostalgic longings for the past?  While previous understandings of this phenomenon have relegated it to the interior realm of the psychological, anthropologists have theorized the social, political, economic, and cultural aspects of nostalgia. In their recent volume Anthropology and Nostalgia (2014), Olivia Angé and David Berliner posit that nostalgic discourses on the past can evidence perceived threats on longstanding social identities and fears of irreversible cultural loss in the face of political upheaval and revolution.

What do post-socialist nostalgias in Eastern Europe and Latin America, nostalgia for apartheid in South Africa, and for neoliberalism in post-neoliberal Venezuela tell us about the fragility of the present?  How does nostalgia as a practice manifest itself through rituals of remembrance, forms of critique or resistance, or violence and war (e.g. in Ukraine)?  And how is nostalgia, in the process, transmitted to younger generations with no firsthand experience of the memorialized past?

We also ask what unmoors nostalgia itself: how non-linear (cyclical, messianic, revolutionary) temporal regimes or chronotopes can reconfigure or refuse the notion of nostalgia.  In the register of everyday experiences, how does, for instance, the uncanny/“strangely familiar” play up and work against nostalgia?

We invite papers across the geographical spectrum that investigate nostalgia and memory as shared social experiences and raise important questions for our discipline on temporality, generation, cultural shifts, and political change. Please submit abstracts to: and no later than March 25, 2015.