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Ilona Németh: Eastern Sugar

Edited by Maja and Reuben Fowkes
(Sternberg Press - forthcoming 2021)

The dramaturgy of neo-liberal capitalism's spread throughout Central and Eastern Europe appears today refracted in a new light. Taking as its starting point artist Ilona Németh's multifaceted investigation of the de-industrializing history of Slovak sugar refineries in the post-communist period, this collective volume brings together critical and artistic reassessments of the processes of social and economic transformation, the dislocation and re-composition of labor relations and working practices, as well as the disintegration and rekindling of notions of community and social well-being. Challenging the inevitability of the adoption of the western capitalist system, it examines how, in the rush to uproot the institutions and structures of socialism, the communitarian, microeconomic, and ecological potentialities of non-capitalist modes of living have been lost or endangered. The literal and metaphorical ruins of Eastern Sugar also offer themselves as a site to extend and expand upon the discussion of economic forces to incorporate environmental and decolonial approaches. as well as to explore the parallels and discrepancies between colonial and neo-colonial histories in the disparate geographies of sugar beet and sugar cane.

Through newly commissioned texts, conversations and contributions by artists, critics and curators, Eastern Sugar restores complexity to the history of the rapid decline of the Slovak sugar industry, and by extension the entire social and economic infrastructure of transition in Central Europe, while at the same time opening up planetary trajectories for post-capitalist alternatives.

Contributors: Raj Patel and Jason W. Moore, Imre Szeman, Anetta Mona Chisa, Ferenc Gróf, Joanna Sokołowska, Raluca Voinea, Kathrin Böhm, Dušan Janíček, Fedor Blaščák and Rado Baťo, Johanna Bockman, Edit András, Annalee Davis, Cooking Sections (Alon Schwabe & Daniel Fernández Pascual), Michael Niblett, Edit Molnár, Maja and Reuben Fowkes and Ilona Németh.