The International St. Petersburg colloquium in Russian history, organized by historians from Russia, the United States, and Western Europe, is held every two to three years. The goal of the upcoming conference in June 2010 is to explore how concepts of selfhood shaped politics, society, and identities in Russia over the last hundred years. The conference draws attention to dialogical practices through which individuals in Russia appropriated or modified the “blueprints” of identities prescribed by political, intellectual, religious, or cultural authorities, such as activists, professionals, academic experts, artists, or priests.
The conference seeks to engage with historical processes through the analytical lens of the self. It will examine the presuppositions about human behavior and the ideals of “personality” and humanity on the part of state and cultural authorities from the late Imperial period to the breakup of the Soviet Union; it will follow how these notions were set into motion over the course of a long century of war and revolution; and it will study their effects on the lives, personal horizons, and self-understandings of individuals.
Suggested themes include, but are not limited to:
* The intelligentsia, the church, and the intellectual history of the “personality” (lichnost'), from the late 19th through the 20th centuries. Notions of lichnost’ and humanity in the human and social sciences
* Wars and revolutions as catalysts of individual self-definition. Relationships between political violence, repression, and self-definition
* Russian/Soviet formulations of self in dialogue and conflict with foreign models (e.g. Soviet vs. fascist conceptions during the 1930s and 1940s; Soviet vs. capitalist models during the Cold War)
* Trajectories of the “new man,” the “Soviet person” (sovetskii chelovek), “russkii chelovek,” and the “dissident”
* Gender and sexuality. Evolving representations of the human body from the late 19th to the late 20th centuries
* Subjectivity and the erosion of political legitimacy (from the late Imperial to the late Soviet period)
* Everyday life, byt, consumption. Popular cultures and alternative forms of identity
* Writers, filmmakers, and journalists as human engineers, from Symbolism to post-Soviet times
* An institutional history of biography: From “The Life of Remarkable People” (“Zhizn’ zamechatel’nykh liudei”), the “History of the Factories,” and “A Day in the World” (Den’ mira), to internet diary blogs
* Documenting and classifying selfhood in the archives and in the realm of istochnikovedenie. The role of oral history.
We invite paper proposals, based on original archival or ethnographic research, from specialists in different disciplines and across disciplines—history, literary studies, cultural anthropology and sociology, history of science and religion, film and media studies, art history—working on questions of identity and subjectivity.
The conference, jointly organized by the St. Petersburg Institute of History of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the European University of St. Petersburg, and Rutgers University, will take place at the European University in St. Petersburg from June 7-10, 2010. The sponsoring institutions will try to cover the costs for travel and accommodation of all participants.
Abstracts in Russian or English (maximum length: 500 words) of the paper you intend to give should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org Your abstract should include your email address and institutional affiliation, the title of your intended paper, and the abstract text. Deadline for submission of abstracts: June 1, 2009.
Notification of applicants: no later than September 2009.
Chosen participants will then be asked to submit article-length (at a maximum of 10,000 words) original papers in Russian or English by March 1, 2010. The papers will be pre-circulated among all participants so that there is ample time to read them before the conference.
The papers will be grouped in thematic panels. Paper presentations at the conference will be limited to 10 minutes. At each panel one conference participant will moderate and comment briefly on the papers, before opening the discussion. The working language of the conference is Russian.
After the conference authors will rework their papers for publication in a volume to appear in 2011.
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