“Regimes of Historicity and Discourses of Modernity and Identity, 1900-1945, in East-Central, Southeast and Northern Europe”
28-30 October 2006, Sofia
CALL FOR PAPERS
The Centre for Advanced Study Sofia (CAS) announces a call for papers for participation in the workshop “Regimes of Historicity and Discourses of Modernity and Identity, 1900-1945, in East-Central, Southeast and Northern Europe”. The workshop will take place on 28-30th October, 2006 at the Centre for Advanced Study Sofia.
The workshop is intended to explore the availability of scholarly interest in the topic and will serve as a basis for selecting researchers to participate in a research project under the same title, envisaged for 2007 - 2008.
Enclosed hereby you will find the description of the project and of the workshop theme.
- Scholars with doctoral degree or in the final stage of fulfilling the requirements for such a degree, in the social sciences or the humanities;
- Excellent knowledge of English (written and spoken);
- Junior researchers and university professors not older than 40 years.
Applicants should submit a CV and an abstract of their proposed paper (3600 characters) not later than September 20th, 2006. Applications are accepted by e-mail ONLY. The abstracts will be evaluated by an International Selection Committee and the applicants thereby selected will be invited to submit a draft paper (15.000-20.000 characters) by October 25th, 2006.
Working language and language skill requirements
The working language of the workshop is English.
ž relevance of the paper to the frame of the project
ž innovative insights
ž Interdisciplinary and comparative approach will be welcomed, as will be publications relevant to the topic
Travel and accommodation
The travel and accommodation expenses of the selected participants will be covered by the Centre for Advanced Study Sofia.
Deadline for submission of abstracts: September 20th, 2006
E-mail your abstract and CV to firstname.lastname@example.org
PLEASE NOTE THAT ABSTRACTS ARE ACCEPTED BY E-MAIL ONLY!
Information about the Centre for Advanced Study Sofia can be obtained at the following website: www.cas.bg. (Please note that since the Centre’s website is currently undergoing renovation, you may occasionally encounter some technical difficulties.)
For more information please contact:
Centre for Advanced Study Sofia
70 Neofit Rilski Str.
Sofia 1000, Bulgaria
tel.: ++359 2 9803704
fax: ++359 2 9803662
SUMMARY OF THE PROJECT Regimes of Historicity and Discourses of Modernity and Identity, 1900-1945, IN EAST-CENTRAL, SOUTHEAST AND NORTHERN EUROPE
Focus Group Project (2007-2008) of the Centre for Advanced Study (CAS) Sofia
Continuity and Context of the Proposed Research
This project is a follow-up of a previous research, carried out by the Centre for Advanced Study Sofia and co-hosted by Collegium Budapest, under the theme We, the People. Visions of National Peculiarity and Political Modernities in the “Europe of Small Nations” (2004-2005).
The aim of the We, the People project was to excavate and compare various texts exemplifying the political instrumentalization of the concepts of “folk”, “people” and “ethnos” in Southeast Europe during the “long nineteenth” century (c. 1789-1918). It thus sought to establish of an “alternative corpus” of key texts problematizing our common assumptions about the intellectual outlook of the period in that region. It also entailed the elaboration of a new comparative methodology which was taking into account the common European “pool of ideas” and typological similarities, but also allowed for a context-sensitive reconstruction of the various ways of local domestication, adaptation and subversion. (For a detailed description see www.cas.bg /Programmes/We, the People) The outcome of that research has been the compilation of a collective volume, to be published in 2007, which includes thirteen case studies of various imperial, regional and national Southeast European traditions of folk-narration in the nineteenth century.
Outline of the Agenda
The project proposed here is thematically and methodologically predicated on the research sketched above while extending its chronological and territorial scope. Its theoretical foundation is the connection, indeed overlapping, between the questions of modernity and identity. For the various projects of modernisation emerging since the late 18th century have been inherently related to the question of community they sought to conjure up, thus to reconceptualization of the “national self.” However, the ideologies and discourses that had explicated that relationship for the “smaller” European cultures, particularly those located on the margins of Europe, have barely been systematically catalogued let alone scrutinized or explained in a comparative way.
We propose to undertake this endeavour by focusing on the comparative analysis of the various ideological traditions thematizing the connection between modernity and historicity, which lays at the core of modern identity-narratives in the post-romantic era (1900-1945), in three “small-state” regions: East-Central, Southeast, and Northern Europe. The very choice of ideologies as the vintage point of our research suggests that our treatment of “temporalities” and “historicities” goes well beyond historiographical employment and retrospection. It involves visions of past and future, of continuity and discontinuity in a wider spectrum of twentieth-century social and political thinking about modernity and identity. Above all we would concentrate on the ways these traditions were shaped and interpreted by the different branches of the humanities and the newly formed social sciences, such as sociology, ethnology, political economy, geopolitics, political anthropology, etc., which were strongly influenced by but at the same time helped to frame the ideologies and temporalities under consideration. This will make it possible for us, first of all, to reconsider the usual metaphors rooted in temporal dimensions that are used for non-core Western cultures such as asynchrony, backwardness, catching-up. Their moral and normative implications had been at the core of modernist and anti-modernist thought, from the far left to the far right, ever since the dawn of the twentieth century.
As in our previous research, the process of cultural appropriation and mediation will be a central axis of investigation pointing to the complex interplay of local traditions and “imported” ideological packages. What is more, this opens up the possibility for formulating heuristic regional typologies, looking at the specific mechanisms of framing modernity in Southeast, Central and Northern Europe.
The Modernist Heritage, the “Second Sattelzeit” and the Narratives of Identity
At the backdrop of the nineteenth-century legacy, the peculiarity that stands out for the period 1900-1945 is the coexistence of radical modernist ventures with the radical rejection of modernity – a concoction that has parallels with other historical regions and times, in contemporary fundamentalisms for instance.
Starting with the early 20th century, the evolutionist-progressivist construct of history and community began to be increasingly challenged and was seriously undermined during the interwar period marked as it was by political, economic and cultural crisis across Europe. What makes most of our chosen contexts highly interesting is the unprecedented overlapping of the crisis of modernity with the crisis of collective identity, which resulted in a feverish search for new political and cultural models to fit “national specificities”. New discourses emerged which re-organised the entire political debate. They were consistent with the shifts of the broader European cultural context featuring an alternative vision of the normativity of historical tradition and of national community. A characteristic of the new political languages, from radically modernist to extremely anti-modernist, was the entanglement of identities and “historicities”. The construction and contestation of alternative visions of the relationship between tradition and modernity, organicism and change, past and future in the post-romantic discourses of national identity came to be “historicised” along different temporal coordinates and modalities of historical existence which led to (re)conceptualisations of political community and political legitimacy.
In contrast to the commonplace assumption that the paradigm shift took place in the interwar period, we believe that it is at the beginning of the 20th century when one can locate most of the major new ideological constructs which became institutionalized after 1918. Among them were the critical discourse connecting (aesthetic) modernism and cultural nation-building; the radical-populist discourse; ethnic neo-conservatism, or conservative populism; the social-democratic doctrine (often coupled with some sort of etatism) and various trends of anti-liberal collectivism (corporativism, syndicalism, etc.). While not without roots in the previous decades, all this got a considerable impetus after 1918, with the experience of the collapse of the old order and the dissolution of the concomitant optimistic belief in gradual progress.
The itinerary of interwar identity discourses makes for a long and variegated list including modernist and anti-modernist ones as well as a broad range of in-between ideological positions. Of course, many of these discourses can be placed into more than one category. A preliminary register of the political languages would include: (neo)liberalism; agrarianism; socialism(s); technocratism, planned society; corporativism; political Catholicism, Protestantism and Orthodoxism; neo-conservatism, Conservative Revolution; biopolitics – eugenics, political anthropology; totalitarian ideologies. A new light can be shed on these ideological options, commonly studied in view of their relative place on a left-right political scale, if they are interpreted from the perspective of their temporal horizons. While classical liberalism was rooted in a linear historical narrative of accumulated welfare and civility, the neo-liberals gave up this belief and allowed for breaking institutional continuities and reliance on a more powerful “creative” agency – the state power. Similarly, while the social democratic mainstream of the turn of the century was committed to a historicist vision, the various new socialist (or Communist) movements opened up to different other modalities of framing history, ranging from revolutionary eschatology to the cyclical model envisioning the socialist society as a return to pre-modernity in the vision of left-wing agrarian populists. The transformation was equally spectacular in the case of conservative ideologies: while the nineteenth-century version was focusing on protecting continuity with certain elements of the pre-modern socio-economic structures from non-organic change and reckless reformism, the emerging proponents of a Conservative Revolution came to envision a radical transformation, thus asserting ‘Tradition’ in terms of a radical break of continuity with the immediate past.
The main objectives of the planned research
– mapping the various traditions, main discourses and ‘actors’ of the respective fields.
- mapping external (Western and intra-regional) discursive and theoretical influences on the intellectual networks. The intended comparative approach is expected to yield important new results in two directions. One, in establishing the cross-cultural mechanisms of reception of certain scholarly paradigms coming from Western Europe. The other, identifying some of the almost completely neglected intra-regional cross-fertilizations;
- creating a coherent methodological framework for dealing with questions of collective identity and the institutionalization of national discourse in a variety of cultural-political contexts. On the one hand, this means the ‘trading’ of classic ‘Western’ methodological paradigms relevant for studying political ideas and discourse (such as the British ‘contextualist’ intellectual history, the German Begriffsgeschichte, or the French history of mentalités), but also the unique opportunity of measuring the relevance of new historiographical trends stemming from our three regions in view of the needs of a complex cross-cultural research environment;
- locating the major ideological traditions at play in the various national contexts. What were the ideological options for constructing their national ‘ideologems’? Could the labels commonly used in the scholarly literature for certain configurations (such as populism, liberal nationalism, racism, etc.,) be used in these contexts or one has to develop an alternative conceptual framework for dealing with these phenomena?
As a result, a number of more precise questions will be formulated which will create coherence among the individual research agendas. It is expected that, while developing their individual research projects, participating scholars will be able to come up with something more than the usual collection of unrelated research papers but a coherent vision of the main lines of the history of political ideas before the World War II.
Realization of the abovementioned objectives will be tied up with short-term research stays, periodical meetings and on-going discussions seeking to re-socialize young scholars into a transnational framework of research.
Centre for Advanced Study Sofia
70 Neofit Rilski Str.
Sofia 1000, Bulgaria
tel.: ++359 2 9803704
fax: ++359 2 9803662
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