Third International Political Anthropology Summer School (IPASS2011)
Firenze, Italy: June 26 - July 2, 2011
The following statement, hopefully, will evoke some pleasant memories in those who participated in the previous IPA Summer Schools, and render curious those who consider the possibility of taking part in the next Summer School on Forgery/Corruption in Florence, on 26 June - 2 July 2011. Needless to say, we were very much delighted that so many students of special qualities have participated in the previous IPA Summer Schools in Florence, and that so we had a whole week for learning and exchanging ideas, improving our understanding – of society, of the world, and also of ourselves, as it only proper for a Summer School devoted to ‘political anthropology’, in the broadest possible sense of the term.
Already during our first IPA Summer Schools, where we brought together a series of perspectives and ideas from anthropology, sociology, political science and philosophy on the ‘Mask’ and on ‘Ecstasy’, we realized how poorly these topics are represented today in the social and political sciences and the humanities. Both are discussed of course in empirical studies about the theatre, or in works by anthropologists that describe the wearing of masks during rituals or the stimulation of ecstatic states, but the significance of the phenomenon in the past, or the reasons for its disappearance from the contemporary is not much reflected upon. Our main focus therefore was to pose the problem of the meaning and significance of experiencing ek-stasis (Greek for ‘being out of place’), either through the wearing of masks, or in any other ways of stepping out from reality. Mask and ecstasy are vehicles for transformation, by which the quality of being is altered. They were often components in rites of passage that were supposed to change the status of initiates, for which the term ‘liminality’ was developed.
‘Liminality’ is not a positive concept, rather implies a dangerous suspension of order. It is fictitious zone where anything could happen. Mask and ecstasy therefore represent the disqualified space of nothingness; just as Eros, they are unreliable despots, working with full zeal on the transformation of every element of social life into their own, at once scorching hot and ice-cold face.
In the 2011 Summer School we would continue to explore the transformative effects of liminal situations by proposing to study corruption, or the technique of forging away from the original and concrete into an artificially made copy. Understood in this sense, forgery undermines personal integrity, as it alters values by reordering and rearranging them, evacuating their meaning, given that the mimed copy stands indiscriminately for anything and everything, and eventually offering a corrupted version as the model to be imitated by others. This year’s guest speakers include Professor Kieran Bonner (University of Waterloo, Canada), Dr Lionel Thelen (University of Geneva), and Dr Jozsef Lorincz (University of Cluj).
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