Eastern Europe's historically unprecedented and accelerated transition from late communism to late capitalism, coupled with media globalization, set in motion a scramble for cultural identity and a struggle over access to and control over media technologies. In Identity Games, Anikó Imre examines the corporate transformation of the postcommunist media landscape in Eastern Europe. Avoiding both uncritical techno-euphoria and nostalgic projections of a simpler, better media world under communism, Imre argues that the demise of Soviet-style regimes and the transition of postcommunist nation-states to transnational capitalism has crucial implications for understanding the relationships among nationalism, media globalization, and identity.
Imre analyzes situations in which anxieties arise about the encroachment of global entertainment media and its new technologies on national culture, examining the rich aesthetic hybrids that have grown from the transitional postcommunist terrain. She investigates the gaps and continuities between the last communist and first postcommunist generations in education, tourism, and children's media culture, the racial and class politics of music entertainment (including Roma Rap and Idol television talent shows), and mediated reconfigurations of gender and sexuality (including playful lesbian media activism and masculinity in "carnivalistic" post-Yugoslav film).
Throughout, Imre uses the concepts of play and games as metaphorical and theoretical tools to explain the process of cultural change—inspired in part by the increasing "ludification" of the global media environment and the emerging engagement with play across scholarly disciplines. In the vision that Imre offers, political and cultural participation are seen as games whose rules are permanently open to negotiation.
About the Author
Anikó Imre is Assistant Professor in the Critical Studies Division of the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California.
"This brilliant book offers a refreshing new perspective on discussions of global media, identity, and interactivity. The author brings her exceptional erudition and cosmopolitanism to the study of transnationalism and new media in today's Eastern Europe. Imre combines an incisive political analysis of the EU with a healthy skepticism about globalization, neo-liberal economics, and digital utopianism. This book should be required reading for new media artists and theorists and European scholars."
Ellen Seiter, Stephen K. Nenno Professor, School of Cinematic Arts, University of Southern California and author of The Internet Playground
"A bracing account of a New Europe anchored in the postcommunist East, on the platform of new media. Imre's essays remain alive to mass culture's ludic (as well as hegemonic) potential. Janus-faced, Identity Games shows how media shaped Communist subjects and continues to remake post-Communist consumers, anchoring critical nostalgia and drawing new maps of gender, ethnicity, and regional memory."
Katie Trumpener, Professor of Comparative Literature and English, Yale University