Alexiu, Dr. Teodor Mircea, West U. of Timisoara, Timisoara, Romania - To aid 4th InASEA conference on 'Region, Regional Identity and Regionalism in Southeastern Europe,' 2007, Timisoara, in collaboration with Dr. Ulf Brunnbauer
'Region, Regional Identity And Regionalism In Southeastern Europe'
May 24-27, 2007, West University of Timisoara, Timisoara, Romania
Organizers: Dr. Teodor Mercea Alexiu (West University of Timisoara) and Dr. Ulf Brunnbauer (Free University - Berlin)
The conference brought together 137 researchers from 23 countries of southeastern Europe, the European Union, and the United States. It was organized by the International Association for Southeast European Anthropology (InASEA) and the Department of Sociology-Anthropology from the Faculty of Sociology and Psychology, West University of Timisoara. The conference aimed to stimulate a more systematic and problem-oriented research in regionalism matters of southeastern Europe and to enable contacts between specialists in the field, and thus open up an exchange of research results. Focusing on the region of southeastern Europe, participants at the conference discussed issues such as regional cultures and their construction, regional identities, everyday 'functioning' of regions, cross-border regions, social and cultural consequences of regional disparities and regional identities. The conference was made possible with support from Wenner-Gren, West University of Timisoara, Sudosteuropa-Gesellschaft (Germany), Timosoara's Mayoralty and the Local Council, and the city's Ethnographic Museum.
Verkaaik, Dr. Oskar, U. of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands - To aid workshop on 'Religion and Sexuality in Post-Colonial Europe: Between Categorization and Transcendence,' 2009, Amsterdam
'Religion and Sexuality in Post-Colonial Europe: Between Categorization and Transcendence'
January 29-30, 2009, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Organizer: Oskar Verkaaik (University of Amsterdam)
On the one hand, religion and sexuality are core markers in identity politics and the culturalization of citizenship, especially, but not only, in Europe today; on the other hand, religion and sexuality have the potential to transcend these very normative and cultural boundaries. This workshop explored this paradox in an ethnographic, sociological and historical way. Two main themes of the workshop were the construction of discourses on religion and sexuality in today?s new nationalisms, and the way groups of people appropriate and experience sexuality and religion against the background of the nationalist
projects. The discussions centered on how religion and sexuality are at the heart of postcolonial processes of 'othering' and sources of the authentic, subjective and sublime. The discussion focused partly on secularization and its religious -- more precisely, Christian -- genealogy. Participants explored the notion of a secular sexuality as public norm and as a
source of authenticity for both pious believers and secularists. These 'sexular' practices of self-understanding and authentification are experienced through the body. Therefore, the body became an important concept participants used to think with in their debates about the intersection of religion and sexuality.
Livni, Eran, Indiana U., Bloomington, IN - To aid research on 'Democracy Without Civil Society? Chalga Music and the Ambivalent Accession of Bulgaria to the European Union,' supervised by Dr. Richard Bauman
ERAN LIVNI, then a student at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, received a grant in October 2007 to aid research on 'Democracy without Civil Society? Chalga Music and the Ambivalent Accession of Bulgaria to the European Union,' supervised by Dr. Richard Bauman. This fieldwork investigated chalga music as a site of ambivalence toward Bulgaria's integration in the political framework of the European Union: democracy that is sustained by pluralist civil society. Chalga is a commercial form that fuses global and Balkan pop musics. The publics constituting chalga's social life are extraordinarily diverse, including people from the margins. However, the emphasis of this music on social and musical heterogeneity does not lead Bulgarians to embrace chalga as a grassroots democratic culture. On the contrary, Bulgarians from all groups discuss chalga's openness as an indication that, in Bulgaria, pluralism leads to balkanization rather than to civil society. The question this research addressed was 'If chalga is construed as crude and antithetic to civil society, why does the genre not only enjoy wide popularity but also offer Bulgarians ways to contest EU democracy?' The fieldwork findings indicate that it is through a Western gaze that Bulgarians apprehend the image of their home landscape -- the Balkans -- as the foil of Europe. That is, the people of the southeastern margins of 'modern civility' are 'backward' and, hence, cannot generate civil society. Thus Bulgarians would disclaim chalga in order to show that they are possessed of the thought and behavior of 'civilized Europe.' In the same breath, however, they would embrace chalga because nothing else could affirm like it did that, as a nation, Bulgarians were not passive subjects of Europe's standards of integration, but rather self-consciously 'backward Balkanites:' inferior but not submissive.
Carlson, Jennifer Douglass, U. of Texas, Austin, TX - To aid research on 'Generating Landscapes: The Impact of Wind Turbine Installation on Frisian Communities in Coastal Northern Germany,' supervised by Dr. Kathleen C. Stewart
JENNIFER D. CARLSON, then a student at University of Texas, Austin, Texas, received funding in May 2010 to aid research on 'Generating Landscapes: The Impact of Wind Turbine Installation on Frisian Communities in Coastal Northern Germany,' supervised by Dr. Kathleen C. Stewart. This project employed participant observation, interviews, and archival research to explore practices of speculation that have arisen with the advent of renewable energy in rural northern Germany. The spread of wind turbines, solar panels, and bio-gas plants across Ostfriesland, Lower Saxony, as well as an influx of jobs in the environmental sector, have led villagers to see themselves as speculators with an unforeclosed future, in contrast to the rigid caste system that once held sway over their communities. In an atmosphere of development driven by environmental concerns, the possibility of capital gain is twinned with the threat of catastrophe in the public consciousness. Data collected over a year of fieldwork suggest that everyday talk in Ostfriesland is a social poetics where even the most mundane conversations may hold consequences for capital gain and wider economic and environmental stability. Here speculation is the ground of belonging in a world where fortunes, daily routines, social distinctions, and the built environment are in a state of constant flux. This case sheds light on the cultural generativity of renewable energy, with an eye to the social repercussions of eco-capitalist development in formerly preindustrial societies.
Murney, Maureen A., U. of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada - To aid 'Navigating Motherhood and Medicine: A Case Study of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in Ukraine,' supervised by Dr. Michael Lambek
MAUREEN MURNEY, while a student at the University of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario, received funding in September 2004 to aid research on the intersection of addiction, stigma, reproduction and healthcare in western Ukraine, while under the supervision of Dr. Michael Lambek. Specifically, Murney's research explores the relationship between discourses of normative behaviour, health-seeking practices within and outside official healthcare institutions, and the daily lived experiences of Ukrainian women who are addicted to alcohol, especially women of reproductive age. The project is based upon twelve months of ethnographic fieldwork in Ukraine with healthcare providers, development staff, social scientists, and women and men who self-identify as alcoholics; fieldwork began just prior to the Orange Revolution in 2004. Most of the research was conducted in large urban settings, though some attention was paid to the particular challenges faced by people living in rural villages. Fieldwork indicates that in western Ukraine, the traditional seat of Ukrainian nationalism and religion, the multiple discourses on values and social change emphasize references to the pagan goddess Berehynia and the Christian Virgin Mary, in order to characterize an explicitly anti-Soviet role for the 'authentic' Ukrainian woman as protector of family and nation. Accordingly, women who become addicted to alcohol are seen to have consciously rejected the essence of Ukrainian womanhood. As such, alcohol dependent women are far more reluctant than men to 'confess' and seek treatment, particularly in official healthcare institutions; alternative healing strategies are often considered to be more effective, modern, democratic, and/or confidential.
Murphy, Dr. Liam D., California State U., Sacramento, CA - To aid research and writing on 'A City of Spirit: Religion and Social Change in Belfast, Northern Ireland' - Richard Carley Hunt Fellowship
DR. LIAM D. MURPHY, California State University Sacramento, was awarded a Richard Carley Hunt Fellowship in June 2005 to aid research and writing on 'A City of Spirit: Religion and Social Change in Belfast, Northern Ireland.' Funding assisted writing of a book-length manuscript based on the grantee's doctoral and post-doctoral research among charismatic Christians in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The project examines relations among religiosity, ideas about the self, and socio-political transformations currently underway in Belfast. In particular, the project looks at changes to religiosity stimulated by 1998's Belfast Agreement and 2006's St. Andrew's Agreement - which have seemingly brought the region's low-level civil conflict (the 'Troubles') to an end. Whereas religion has helped to define community boundaries and ideas about self in relation to society since the sixteenth century, the character and purpose of religion in the 'new' Belfast is now subject to a different form of scrutiny and revision. The future status of religion as a marker of identity and selfhood is in doubt. Participants in an ecumenical, evangelically-driven charismatic 'renewal' devise occasions and language of religious devotion that hybridize embodied and ecstatic experience, ideas about civil society in Northern Ireland, Europe, and elsewhere, ritualized practices that embrace elements of Northern Ireland ritual tradition transformed to emphasize social unity, theories of historical change that minimize social difference.
Dzenovska, Dace, U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'From Multi-Ethnic Socialism to Multicultural Europe: Difference and European Integration in Latvia,' supervised by Dr. Alexei Yurchak
DACE DZENOVSKA, then a student at University of California, Berkeley, Califonia, was awarded funding in November 2005 to aid research on 'From Multi-Ethnic Socialism to Multicultural Europe: Difference and European Integration in Latvia,' supervised by Dr. Alexei Yurchak. The research set out to examine how the European present and the Soviet past constitute contemporary forms of liberalism and multiculturalism in Latvia. It suggested that rather than arriving in Latvia fully formed, it is in Latvia that Europe, liberalism, and multiculturalism are made. Ethnographic research focused on discourses and practices of tolerance and immigration control, while the former aim to incite individuals to reflect on the boundaries they draw between themselves and others and to cultivate a particular ethical disposition towards difference, the latter police the borders of the territory and the national body. Research findings suggest that Europe, multiculturalism, and liberalism are highly contested and heterogeneous sets of practices. While exhibiting liberal inclinations, dicourses and practices of tolerance and multiculturalism are also shaped by the influential articulation of state legitimacy with the integrity and sovereignty of the cultural nation and understandings of good life grounded in a particular way of life. Further analysis will consider how liberal practices, both state and non-state, are enabled by and themselves enable particular ways of life. How does one engage with nationalism as a particular way of life without either rendering it as fundamentally problematic or becoming complicit in its troubling renditions of difference?
Dzenovska, Dace, 2010. Making 'The People' Political Imaginaries and the Materiality of Barricades in Mexico and Latvia. Laboratorium (3):5-16.
Dzenovska, Dace. 2010. Public Reason and the Limits of Liberal Anti-Racism in Latvia. Ethnos 75(4):425-454.
Dzenovska, Dace, and Ivan Arenas. 2012. Don't Fence Me In: Barricade Sociality and Political Struggles in Mexico and Latvia. Comparative Studies in Society and History 54(3):644-678.
Pocs, Dr. Eva, U. of Pecs, Pecs, Hungary - To aid workshop on 'Spirit Possession. European Contributions to Comparative Studies,' 2012, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Pecs, in collaboration with Dr.Andras Zempleni
Preliminary abstract: European conceptions and rituals of spirit possession described by historians and ethnographers of Western and Eastern Europe have never been compared systematically with those observed by anthropologists elsewhere in the world. This workshop intends to trigger an exchange of ideas between qualified representatives of these oddly separated research communities in order to reformulate some basic questions recently raised in comparative anthropology of possession. Anthropological studies are still rooted in European notions of body-soul dualism, concepts of self and personhood, and they convey a whole set of presuppositions inherited from Christian models of ?good' and ?bad' possession. This legacy and these lasting presuppositions will be reviewed in a debate with historians of Europe going back to their origins. We expect a significant contribution of the workshop to ongoing anthropological attempts to redefine the very notion of possession to be freed from the western notion of the self and more clearly delineated from related idioms such as witchcraft, devotion, mysticism etc. European studies which have long been faced at a diachronic level with the thorny issue of delineation may both contribute to and benefit from ongoing anthropological studies focused on interactive transformations of official and popular concepts of possession competing in the contemporary transnationalized religious spaces of the Americas. New field data to be presented on the contents of messages issued by North-Indian and Malagasy mediums in a state of trance may incite both camps to revise former ideas on the nature of 'communication' triggered by trance. A pioneering anthropological approach, experimentally extended to European models, will address African possession rites as a form of indigenous historiography. This perspective promises to become another meaningful meeting point between Europeanists, Africanists, Americanists and Indianists.
Grant, Dr. Bruce M., New York U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Cosmos and Cosmopolitanism in the Azeri Caucasus'
DR. BRUCE M. GRANT, New York University, New York, New York, received funding in April 2008 to aid research on 'Cosmos and Cosmopolitanism in the Azeri Caucasus.' Despite centuries of participation in Silk Road trade and evidence of intense linguistic, religious, and cultural pluralisms, the mountainous Caucasus region has long been thought of as a 'closed society,' unwelcoming to outsiders. Through a project on the life of a small but regionally famous village in rural northwest Azerbaijan over the course of the twentieth century, the grantee combined extended field and archival research to consider the manifold but rarely documented ways that the Caucasus region has deeply embedded in economic, political, religious, and social networks across Turkey, the Middle East, Central Asia and beyond. The research found fresh accounts of Sufi-style networks across Azerbaijan, and worked with a number of local religious leaders who considered that the hard-won religious traditions preserved in the late Soviet period compare in some respects more favorably, paradoxically, to those practiced today in a time of expanded religious tolerance. With this ethnographic approach to cultural history, the goal of this research was to better understand the Soviet project itself, as well as the logics of sovereignty in a world area too long known only for its violence.